Consumer vs Commercial Grade Cookware, which is better? Brands like All Clad has become a household name for an all American Made Cookware. While brands like winco or generic brand cookware is geared more towards restaurant professional. Does that mean commercial cookware is better? Not really, what most people don’t realize is that there is a difference in quality between commercial and consumer grade products. It does not necessarily mean that one is better than the other, but rather they focus on different needs.
Commercial vs Consumer Grade Cookware
The general understanding is that commercial is usually better than consumer. However, in the realm of cookware, the opposite tends to be true. In the restaurant industry, the cookware is subjugated to a intense about of heat and abuse. If the heat from their industrial stove does not warp the pan, the banging and toss of the cookware will eventually break it. It makes more economical sense for restaurant owner to just replace it instead of repairing. For this reason, industrial cookware tend to be more on the affordable side. They might not have the fit and finish of an consumer product like All Clad, but they perform almost as well for a fraction of the price.
All Clad, is also used by many professional kitchen but they are geared and marketed towards the home market. The fit and finish will usually be perfect because consumer has come to expect a pristine factory made product. Industry professional would rather focus on something that is more practical than pretty. They would rather not have to spend the extra money to buy a product that is pretty.
Another thing to note, is that a lot of consumer grade product is not designed to be used for commercial use. That is why a lot of company will claim that the product is only meant for home use. If it is something that is used constantly in a professional setting, more than likely, it will not last very long. For this reason, if you ever want to maintain your warranty, never say that it was used professionally. Luckily for All Clad, their product is actually made well enough to withstand the abuse and rigor of the restaurant industry. The only problem is the price that they charge for the cookware. Most restaurant are not willing to spend 2-300 dollar for a single pan, especially if they have multiple cooks. Getting a pan that only cost 20-30 dollar would be a lot more economical.
What about performance, which grade of cookware perform better. That really depends on the type of cookware that you buy. High end consumer cookware are mostly fully cladded. They offer a good even distribution of heat, but the outer stainless steel exterior is really unnecessary and expensive to manufacturer. It is there to maintain its structural rigidity and to prevent it from marring. The center is aluminum to conduct heat and the inner layer is stainless steel so that it wont react with acidic food.
In the commercial market, the cookware will usually be just aluminum. They do not need the other layer of stainless steel to maintain its appearance. As far as the cooks are concern, they need heat fast and a straight aluminum pan will perform better and cost less.
What about copper cookware? Aside from the French restaurant, most will have the same cheap aluminum cookware. Usually restaurant who have copper cookware on display, is meant mostly for show. It is a lot cheaper for the restaurant to just have aluminum as their cookware. As soon as they break, they can readily replace it without any issue. Nowadays the people who buy the copper cookware for performance are mostly non restaurant professionals. Those are cookware collector who enjoy the performance of the pan, but in reality, it will offer marginal gains in performance.
Professional kitchen will have stove range that output heat that is much higher than a home kitchen. Any performance gains that cookware provide will pretty be nullify by heat of a professional range. If you truly want good performance, then get a professional stove top range instead of a professional pan.
Commercial Aluminum Cookware
So what are some examples of a straight aluminum cookware. Well brands like Tramonita will often have straight aluminum cookware. One of them is extremely affordable and is made with a thick layer of aluminum. That aluminum will outperform a pan that a unnecessary layer of stainless steel on the exterior. However, the chances of it warping is also high due to the heat output of their gas range. For the home consumer, you will probably not notice it at all.
Another example of this is De Buyer, then have the De Buy Choc pan which is a aluminum pan with nonstick finish. It has a very thick layer of aluminum that will conduct heat effectively and evenly.
Carbon Steel Commercial Cookware
Carbon steel is another restaurant favorite. Because non stick tends to deteriorate at high heat, they would use carbon steel as a substitute. These pans can withstand the intense heat and provide the non stick performance needed. One popular brand is Matfer Bourgeat Carbon Black Steel Pan. Another close competitor would be De Buyer Mineral B pan. Both of these pans are lighter than cast iron, yet offer the same performance.
Consumer vs Commercial Grade Cookware Thoughts
Which should you buy? It depends on what you want. If you care about only performance, get a commercial grade pan. If you care about performance and fit and finish, a consumer will be better. Just be prepared to pay extra for that fit and finish quality. In the end, the food really depends on the cook, not the cookware.
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