For most people, pots and pans are a lot like friends - you find a good set and then stick with them. They aren't necessarily the most exciting purchase on the planet but they can improve your cooking experience, the resultant meals and even reduce your utility bills. Since moving to London last June my girlfriend and I had been making do with a cheap set of pans purchased for a song from Argos and they were fairly nasty. The supposed non stick was peeling off - possibly poisoning us over time - the handles were always coming loose and they were less than enjoyable to cook with.
All this changed when I chanced upon my lovely new Tefal Expert Cook pans at a large reduction in my local BHS store. BHS isn't really a store that markets itself to mid twenty somethings like myself, but I'll pop in from time to time to look for reduced cookware and kitchen gadgets. They also do very good sunhats for men... The pans set me back £60, from a supposed RRP of £150. Call me a cynic, but I suspect that very few people have ever paid that RRP. That said, these are a great set of sturdy pans and I have no doubt of their value.
*The saucepans came in one by one*
The set comes with more than enough saucepans for all but the largest of families (I come from a family of seven and gigantic cast iron pots were the order of the day). Included is:
A 14cm 1L milk pan - Ideal for making sauces and gravies
A 16cm 1.5L saucepan with lid - Usually used for cooking vegetables and cooking for one in our house.
A 18cm 2L saucepan with lid - A great medium sized saucepan, ideal for cooking potatoes and pasta sauces etc.
A 20cm 3L saucepan with lid - Somewhat large when you're cooking for two, this hasn't been used much yet. I suspect it will come into its own when we hit stew season!
A 26cm French skillet - A great frying pan for cooking with (quite deep). Can be used for making lovely omelettes, but not quite big enough to cook an unhealthy breakfast on.
*Where have you been all my life?*
As these are the best set of pans I've ever owned, I am quite happy to rhapsodise about their virtues.
They are remarkably light, but at the same time are fairly thick and retain heat very well. Since purchasing them I've found that I can typically set the heat on our electric hob one notch lower than was the case with our previous pans (a cheap pressed metal set). The pans are anodised, which makes them very durable and scratch resistant. They look like a good quality, robust set and they don't disappoint 'in person'.
The non stick coating on these is great and this allows the health conscious chef to use slightly less oil than might typically be the case. There are, however, some types of food which stick slightly and it's best not to skimp on the oil.
The lids are very well machined, fitting the pans incredibly snugly and the heat that builds up during use can be quite fierce. They all feature steam vents to prevent them popping off as a result of all this chemical energy.
A small point, but very important for anyone who cooks a lot, is the excellent handles. These feature soft silicone grips that are very easy on the hands and are riveted to the pans. This is preferable to handles which are bolted on, as the only way they're coming loose is if they snap off!
The pans handle high temperatures particularly well and are safe up to 250 degrees Celsius in the oven. I would advise that people with fan assisted ovens remember to adjust this figure downwards, as ovens which use active air circulation are a lot hotter in real terms. The manufacturers don't recommend using these pans for deep frying, as the temperatures reached by the oil during deep frying are truly staggering and this can damage the non stick.
*Take care of these pans and they'll take care of your meals*
Like most good quality pans, it's best to prepare these for their first use by rubbing a small quantity of olive oil over the interiors with a folded square of kitchen paper before you start cooking. This helps to protect the non stick and can be repeated if you haven't used the pans for a while.
The manufacturers recommend letting the pans cool before washing them (I suppose that this helps prevent any buckling) and also suggest that you wash them as soon as possible and also dry them immediately after use! This might seem a little demanding, but I'm assured that this is to help keep the riveted stainless steel components from getting damaged or staining over time (as 'stainless' steel is simply a challenge for messy people). I don't mind taking care of a good quality product that will hopefully provide a decade of use.
*(Not) panned by the critics*
In summing up, I'd like to offer these very well made pans the full five stars. They were economical to purchase, are light, strong and easy to use and have a consistently high manufacturing quality throughout. Tefal have won a new fan. Please shop around if you decide to purchase a set, as the promoted link to Amazon does not represent the best value for money on every occasion.
Hard Anodised 3mm gauge / Hard anodised technology for even heat distribution & maximum durability / Non Stick Interior for healthy cooking / Glass Lids with riveted handles & silicone grips / Suitable for all hob types except induction / Oven safe up to 250°c.