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Lodge is one of America largest Cast Iron Manufacturer. Their products are durable, affordable and perform well overall. Perhaps their most popular product is the skillet. Its iconic straight sided pan can be seen in household all around america. However, there exist another pan that is much better designed and recommended over their standard model. Lodge Chef Collection has all the advances of a modern skillet with the durability of the cast iron.
What is Lodge Chef Collection?
Lodge Chef Collection is Lodge modern take on their traditional cast iron cookware. In general, they are 15% lighter, more ergonomic and comfortable. With a redesigned sidewall. These are advances that most modern stainless steel cookware have. A much needed improvement over the traditional straight wall pan.
Lodge Chef Collection vs Classic
My experience with the Chef Collection is primarily with their skillet. The main difference between these two pan is the sidewall. Instead of a straight side, it is now curved with a gentle slope. The height of it is slightly shorter as well. As a result, the frying ability is greatly improved. Steam has more room to escape and scraping the edges is easier.
Another added benefit is the ease of turning. Since the walls are shorter, you can easily reach in with a spatula. On either side of the skillet, there are pouring spouts, much like the classic model. Handles are also improved with a slight curve at a slightly longer length.
This design is actually very similar to how Le Creuset design their skillet.
In terms of heating up, it should be slightly faster due to its reduction in weight. However, this also means it holds less heat. Around 15% more. But for most people, they wont notice a difference.
Seasoning and Rough Surface
In the cast iron world, collectors love the vintage stuff. Their interior is smooth and they are generally lighter. They believe it gives the pan a superior nonstick performance. However, this is simply wrong. What gives a cast iron pan its nonstick performance is the seasoning. Its the black caked on grease that makes it nonstick.
In order for a cast iron pan to hold onto the seasoning, it needs a rough surface. In fact, the rougher it is, the better. While you might see marginal difference due to a smoother surface. Those rough surface pan will hold onto the seasoning better. As a result, your net gain or usability of the coating, is better on the modern pan.
Seasoning Lodge Chef Collection
To season your pan, add a thin coat of oil. Then bake it in the oven at 350 for around half an hour. Remove and wipe off the excess oil. Use a tong to do so. Once cool, rinse and repeat for the best result. If you want, you can even use Lodge’s seasoning spray. However, I find that normal canola oil will works as well. Cast Iron collector like to use flax seed though.
Perhaps one of the most annoying thing about cast iron is the cleaning. You can use soap and it gets black and gunky. There are some ways to clean it though. What I like to do is hit a hot pan with water. This usually soften up all the hard bit. Use a wooden spoon to scrape it.
If that doesnt work, a paper towel with salt as the abrasive work as well. Just rub it in with tong or your hand. Then discard as needed.
If you must, you can use a mild soap. Just be sure to dry it off to prevent rust. I like to heat it up on the stove. Once dry, I put a light coating of oil and heat it up to the smoke point. This reinforces the seasoning.
Performance wise, you will see a improvement in the rate at which liquid evaporate. As a result, food should sear better. However, to the naked eye, you most likely wont notice.
In terms of usability, its a lot more ergonomic. You will find yourself reaching for that pan a lot more than the classic model.
For heat retention, it will suffer a little compared to the classic. However no real world performance will be noticeable. All in all, its a better than the traditional classic model.
Lodge Chef Collection is their modern take on a traditional skillet. Lighter design, rounder edge and a more ergonomic handle makes this a winning cast iron pan. However, most people have never heard or used this model. If you are reading this article, I hope this have convinced you that its the way to go.
Is lodge better than Le Creuset? Check out our Lodge vs Le Creuset Article.