Cooking Like the Stars? Don't Waste Your Money

Readers, I'll be taking (another!) break from writing for a few weeks to work on other projects. In the meantime, enjoy this post from deep down in CK's archives.

Is celebrity chef branded cookware worth the extra money? This was the subject of a recent article in the Wall Street Journal.

The article raised two thought-provoking questions:

1) Is it worth it to pay up for a cookware set endorsed by celebrity chefs like Rachel Ray or Emeril Lagasse?
2) What do you really get for your money when you buy chef-branded cookware?

The surprising answers to these questions were 1) no, and 2) surprisingly little.

"A star endorsement doesn't mean stellar cookware."
The anecdotes from the article are depressing. The silicone handle on Rachel Ray's frying pan catches fire during a test use. Emeril Lagasse's 8-inch frying pan bends "like an accordion." And Marcus Samuelsson's 10-piece set, while of solid quality and design, retails for $500.

Tales like these make me want to crawl into my cupboard and hug my humble Revere cookware.

Neither I nor the WSJ mean to pick on these great celebrity chefs who collectively have done so much to bring great cooking to the masses. But let's be reasonable about the relative value of the products they hawk.

If you're trying to cook on a budget, or if you're trying to build out your kitchen at a reasonable cost, don't trip yourself up with a large capital outlay for overpriced cooking gear. And, most importantly, don't pay up for suspect merchandise. If you buy poor quality cookware, or pay too much for what you do buy, it can suck all the fun out of cooking for years.

Instead, stick to a basic but high-quality set of cooking gear that doesn't include extra branding and advertising costs. In our kitchen we've been overjoyed with the quality and durability of our reasonably priced Revere and T-Fall cookware, which we've been happily using for nearly two decades.

You don't need the stamp of approval from a celebrity chef to cook exceptional meals at home.

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