Although cookware preferences are typically chef-driven, there are a number of considerations when choosing materials, type and sizes.
Here, Melissa Miller, director of business development for Northern California at San Diego, Calif.-based TriMark/R.W. Smith & Co., provides insight on the category.
- Determine what the chef hopes to accomplish, the volume and what type of food they’re cooking.
- Cookware should not impact the product or its authenticity. For example, aluminum shouldn’t be used with tomatoes or other acidic foods, as it will change the taste.
- Stainless steel is pricier than aluminum, but most chefs tend to gravitate to the cookware on which they were trained.
- Operators mainly use copper cookware to showcase the production process in an open kitchen. These products generally feature a mix of stainless steel on the inside with copper on the exterior.
- Black steel, another form of cookware material, is trendy and mainly used with fry pans as opposed to stock pots. It’s lighter weight and provides even cooking. This type is popular when cooking at high temperatures.
- Induction-ready cookware can be used in the front of house for buffet and display cooking or in the back of the house. This type may have triple-ply construction with an aluminum core for event or display cooking.
- Operators can choose from a variety of specialty cookware pieces, with paella and wok pans among the most common. When poaching eggs, cooks commonly use a 4- or 5-inch single egg pan. Mini fry pan versions, some with shiny finishes, serve as popular options for tableside presentations of appetizers, tapas or small plates.
- Cookware handles are either riveted, which offers added durability, or welded. The commercial type handles are constructed out of the same material as the pan or pot body. Handles can be either rounded or flat. Some may have a rubber coating that may or may not be removable. These are based on chefs’ personal preference.