So you’re in the market for new cookware. But there are lots of choices and doing research online can lead to information overload.
Alison Cayne wants to help. The founder of Haven’s Kitchen, a New York City cooking school that opened in 2012, Cayne’s goal is to make cooking fun and easier. She is now making a line of fresh, squeezable sauces and flavor starters.
Her love of cooking dates back to the age of nine when she began sharpening her culinary skills in her parent’s kitchen. She would eventually earn a Master’s in food studies from New York University.
“As a kid growing up I watched a lot of Galloping Gourmet and Julia (Child),” Cayne said. “Cooking always made me happy and feel confident.”
She is now aiming to help ease the daily effort of meal preparation by offering insight on the type of cookware she feels people should have in their kitchen. As with her cooking style, she feels it’s best to keep it simple.
KITCHENWARE TODAY: What are some key pieces of cookware people should have at home?
ALISON CAYNE: For me, a Dutch oven can be a lot of things. You can make pasta in it. Use it in the oven. Make a stew. There are a lot of really nice Dutch ovens available today in a variety of sizes. I also think it’s good to have a braiser, a good quality skillet, and a little saucepot.
KWT: Is there cookware that you feel is underrated or underused?
AC: I’m a huge fan of a grill pan that can go across two burners. But it’s important to have a vent hood or you will smoke yourself out of the house. Using a grill pan, I can make eight chicken breasts at once. When needed I can lower the back burner to create a warming station. There are some grill pans that you can flip over and use the smooth side to make pancakes. I’m also a fan of using a rack with my baking sheets. It allows for proper air circulation and allows the skin on the bottom of a chicken to get crispy.
KWT: What’s the best way to buy cookware?
AC: I think it’s nice to feel and hold something before you buy it. How does the handle feel? Is it too heavy? Does it fit on your shelf at home? I also think it’s good to look for cookware from companies that have been around for a long time. This gives me confidence that they will continue to be in business for a while and will be reachable if I have a question about the product. The same can’t always be said for those companies who sell products via flashy Instagram ads.
KWT: Is there one must-have piece of cookware in your kitchen?
AC: It’s my Dutch oven. I can make eggs in it. I can also use it to steam, boil, roast, and braise. It can also be used to make bread. I also love my cast iron pan. But without a lid, there are a few things I can’t do with it.
KWT: Where are the best places to shop for cookware?
AC: I think Williams Sonoma and Sur La Table do a nice job with their cookware assortments. It’s difficult competing with a lot of digital outlets out there. But they are both reliable. I also think Nordstrom and Target have solid cookware selections.