I have been talking about needing new pots and pans for years. Our set is a nonstick set my in-laws generously bought for us off a home shopping channel a few years back, but unfortunately the set had no longevity. The nonstick surface has peeled, it takes a lot of cooking spray to make anything not stick, and it doesn’t heat evenly.


I’ve researched cookware that is supposed to be eco-friendly. I test drove Xtrema and was not impressed. I’ve read user reviews on many, many other types of cookware that are made to be environmentally friendly, and I haven’t come across one that gets rave reviews by users.

So I started looking into mainstream cookware and decided that I needed to make an investment in layered, stainless steel cookware that will last a long time. I needed to look beyond cookware that was labeled green or eco-friendly or environmentally safe and look into cookware that is safe to cook on for my family, won’t need to be replaced in five years, and does a great job. But, I hadn’t bought any because I was concerned about spending the money and then finding I don’t like the cookware.

Enter Williams Sonoma and its 90-day “you can bring it back if you don’t like it” policy. I did a little research and decided that eventually I would try the All-Clad d5 Stainless Steel cookware. Still, I was hesitant to take the plunge, so my husband took it for me. He surprised me on Christmas with one piece — a large saucepan with a lid. And while I can’t give you a time-tested glowing review of the cookware, I can say this: so far, very good.

Last night, during the first snowstorm of the season, I turned to Ina Garten’s “Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics” cookbook to try my hand at Coq au Vin* for the first time. It was delicious. The sauté pan handled the recipe beautifully. Food did not stick. Everything heated evenly. It went from stovetop to oven and back to stovetop with no problem. When all was said and done, it cleaned up easily.

I am sure there is other cookware that is made well and cooks well that is less expensive than the All-Clad. Because of what I do, though, I’m willing to make this investment. I’m going to give this pan about a month before I decide if I’m going to buy more of the d5 line. I may have to skip a few meals out to be able to afford it, but I’ll be more likely to cook restaurant-quality meals in the better cookware. I won’t have to worry about poorly made cookware ruining the meal partway through.

Do you have cookware that you absolutely love? What is it?

*The recipe online skips a step that the recipe in the book includes. When the cognac or brandy is added (before the bacon and chicken are put back in the pot), the alcohol is burned off by lighting it with a match. Wow, those flames go high! If you do it, stand back, be very careful, and you probably also want to know where your fire extinguisher is, just in case. 

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

The right cooking tool for the job
A Christmas gift of good cookware is already making a difference in the kitchen.