Culinary School Grads: What Construction Pans Were You Exposed To?

It occurs to me that most of us are initially exposed to cookware choices in uncritical, noncomparative ways. E.g., Gran’s CI chicken fryer, Mom’s Revereware, the All-Clad we put on a registry, etc. We may stick with what we have, or replace based on someone else’s sayso, but what have we actually done to compare? And how meaningful has any such comparison been?

It also occurs that culinary students (and cooking lesson customers) may also suffer from having few or no choices as to cookware choices. As with the first category, this may result in “unknown unknown” issues, and sticking with what the student learned on, and little or no subsequent comparisons.

So, directed at those who were taught in cooking schools, what were you taught on? Was there any time spent to educate or expose you to different cookware constructions of the differences they can make?


Great question Kaleo. I’ve come to where I am with cookware, pans, utensils and appliances from years of reading…a lot from Chowhound, cooking classes, observations of restaurant kitchens in person and on cooking shows. Goodness knows we have all read countless discussions, and reviews from the droll Consumer’s Reports of our youth, to more current focused websites of the Cooks Illustrated/Serious Eats nature. Me…I’m always on the lookout not for the latest, newest, but for quality built kitchenware that will survive serious usage.

I’m certainly interested in how formally trained chefs come to use what they use.

1 Like

Circa 1972 tinned copper, but my course was only mother sauces.

Copper, ECI, carbon steel, and stainless. The copper was virtually all tinned.


What year did you graduate, and do you think your school still familiarizes its current student to all of these?

And no bare aluminum or cast iron?

  1. No bare cast iron, only ECI, maybe a tiny smidgen of bare aluminum cookware (not counting bakeware) but not worth mentioning. I don’t recall ever cooking in any, seems like a may have seen a piece or two pressed into service at some other station.

I wouldn’t expect it would be tons different today, probably more ply cookware. I’d be shocked, and a little disappointed, if they weren’t still teaching sauces in tinned copper though.

They didn’t “teach” cookware per se as much as they did using your senses.

If I were starting a place from scratch, there wouldn’t be any bare CI or bare aluminum (other than for some bakeware items.) There’s no real need for either, it’s too limiting. I’d build a core around SS with some copper, ECI, and carbon steel – all pretty true to the way I was taught and to my experience in the workforce after graduating.


Funny how I, as a home cook, have come to the exact same conclusion.

Straight aluminum cake pans, stainless steel cookware with thick aluminum bottoms, straight copper, enameled cast iron, and carbon steel. This is what I use. The usual suspects, and they all have their own strengths and weaknesses, so you pick whatever your recipe needs.


One of the reasons I asked the question is a lot of chefs’ cookbooks have cookware sections, and hold forth about all main constructions. But were they exposed to, say, bare aluminum or tinned copper in school? Unless they were (or somehow included what was excluded later), maybe they’re not fully informed.

Exacerbating things further are the online sellers, who are commonly not especially knowledgeable and/or are only hawking their own wares. I think this explains much of the success of jobbers like MadeIn and the myriad mattress makers.

Both Charlie and Tim are old enough that they may no longer be representative of who the schools are training today. My strong suspicion is that recent grads aren’t exposed to copper cookware at all.

I’m doing a google image search for “culinary institute of America classrooms” to see if there are any images of the teaching kitchens that show copper. I did find this on an Australian travel website that describes a trip to the CIA

The caption says” One of the students hard at work in a training room.” So the picture show copper hanging from pot racks, not someone actually using copper. Best I could do…

A modern class and no copper in sight…at the new location on the Ile.


And what are those glass tops they’re working on…

Yeah, is that induction or electric heat? I would think gas would eb standard. Why I’m no pro.

Who knows? Maybe it’s a super-secret new form of raging hellfire under giass…

1 Like

Watch for Mauviel’s new induction compatible “copper”…

I’d pay extra for that. Molten steel, or something sweet, under there.

I love pictures like this. They look so clean. I love even more when you see kitchens on TV and they’re just sloshing sht around everywhere.

Induction copper, eh? love Mauviel.

I’m hoarding my beloved copper until the emergence of an all-metal capable induction range. Not a countertop appliance! It’s okay - I’ve got a lot of stuff I want to see before I die … so hurry up! I’m not getting any younger.

It exists, Meekah:

Falls a bit short of being a range - this looks more like a countertop appliance

1 Like

It’s the only induction unit that works with aluminum and copper–but it’s kind of weird. . .

It’s optimistic to think that a professional chef will have written an entire cookbook himself. Probably likely that an editor added some non-critical content like a cookware section - keeping in mind book sales so trying to reach an audience as wide as possible.

So I can imagine things like copper cookware may even be scrapped in the editing process: who in their right mind fiddles with copper anymore?! :slight_smile:

Marcella Hazan does have a dedicated section on cookware in her book, and very likely written by herself. She doesn’t go into actual cookware materials in great length, but she hammers home the idea of a saute pan being the quintessential pan for Italian cooking.