Cookware has always been one of the top selling categories in the housewares business, and is one of the absolute cooking basics for the kitchen. It is also one of the most important cooking tools because good food preparation starts with proper heating.
When I think about the cookware that my parents used when I was growing up, it’s hard to imagine you could effectively cook anything with it. The cookware that began coming to market in the early 90’s was such a substantial improvement, I can’t imagine cooking without something that heats as well and controls heat so precisely. I used to say the reason that the food in restaurants taste so good, especially things that were sautéed, was that it was cooked over a hot heat source, with a quality pan, and prepared by someone who knew how to get the proper brown caramelization of the protein without burning it. This was now possible in the home kitchen thanks to the introduction of better quality cookware.
I started in the housewares business during the early 90’s when I had the opportunity to sell Calphalon just as it was raising the bar for performance cookware for the home. It began a revolution in better quality housewares that only seemed to build steam as we headed for a new century. At the time, “commercial” became the catch word to signal to the customer that the product was designed to meet the demands of the most demanding cooks of all, those cooking in the restaurant kitchen. Soon, we had access to some of the best products produced on the planet. For me, that meant Bourgeat copper cookware from France. I became an absolute cookware snob, I must admit, but it elevated my cooking to another level. The product was very heavy, which appealed to us males, whom associate quality with heft. I used to turn my nose at the sight of some of the lightweight cookware offerings on the market that seemed to sacrifice cooking performance for ease of use.
Times certainly have changed, and the cookware market is changing rapidly too. The challenge that cookware manufacturers are facing now, is to motivate the younger generation with disposable income to invest in good cookware so that they can cook good meals at home. Fortunately for them, they are faced with some great choices in the cookware market that seem to be designed to fit their lifestyle. The advances in metal sciences have enabled manufacturers to turn out products that perform as well as the heavy pans in my kitchen, with much lighter weight, and presumably lower material cost, which translates to a competitive price point that insures great value for the customer. On the coming pages you will see some of the latest product introductions that seem to exemplify this the change in the marketplace.