Are chefs embracing nonstick pans for home cooking?

While avid home cooks stock their cupboards with a rainbow of Le Creuset, gorgeous glowing copper pans, and high-dollar triple-ply cookware, restaurant kitchens contain more utilitarian pots and pans, usually plain stainless or aluminum pans. You rarely see a nonstick-coated pan in a restaurant, and chefs often exhort home cooks to get rid of their nonstick cookware, claiming that it is a waste of money. However, after being stuck at home cooking in circumstances that differ wildly from their restaurant kitchens, a few chefs are changing their tune about Teflon and other nonstick surfaces.

David Chang is one such chef who recently praised nonstick cookware. In March, he confessed his newfound admiration for the product in his podcast: “I never thought in my wildest dreams that I’d cook with a Teflon wok,” he told listeners, adding that “I’m not embarrassed any more, I’m coming out, I’m telling the world that my favorite piece of equipment right now is a Teflon wok made in Korea.” What changed Chang’s mind? The ease of cleanup for nonstick cookware. Most chefs never have to do the dishes at work, but as we all know, cooking in quarantine means there is a never ending parade of pots, pans, and dinnerware that need to be cleaned. Easy cleanup is a virtue.

The biggest drawback to nonstick cookware is its limited durability – even the best pans only last a few years, and the coating is easily scratched. Most nonstick cookware fares poorly in the dishwasher as well. There is a litany of precautions you must take with nonstick pans: don’t use them on high heat, don’t use metal utensils, avoid sudden temperature changes, don’t use oil sprays, and so on. That’s why most chefs embrace well-seasoned cast iron or carbon steel pans instead.

After initially praising his Teflon wok, Chang has since tempered his enthusiasm for nonstick cookware, telling his audience that it is pointless to spend a lot of money on nonstick pans. In our house, we have phased out most nonstick cookware, mostly due to concerns about the coating’s safety. One of the chemicals that was formerly used to make Teflon has been linked to cancers near the plants that produce the cookware. Do you embrace nonstick or have you eliminated it from your kitchen?

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6 Comments

  • gamulholland  on  August 19, 2020

    We have gradually gotten rid of the Teflon and gotten GreenPan ceramic nonstick pans instead, just for the few things that really need a nonstick pan (one big frying pan and one little frying pan, both of which are for eggs, and a crepe pan.) We now have a pet— our little guy’s beloved and very friendly and curious parakeet— and Teflon left on high temperatures can cause toxic fumes that can kill birds, so although I don’t think we’ve ever done that to a Teflon pan, we’ve changed to ceramic. But we have gotten rid of some nonstick pans and replaced them with regular ones, also.

  • dc151  on  August 19, 2020

    We don’t use non-stick because it gives off fumes that are deadly to our parrot. We are careful not to use PFOA and PTFE, which are also used in toaster ovens, air fryers and other small appliances.

  • CapeCodCook  on  August 19, 2020

    I’ve eliminated nonstick pans since I discovered how easy it is to keep carbon-steel skillets and pans seasoned and slick. They are durable but lighter than cast-iron and easier to season. I also have a few thick copper tin-lined sauté pans and skillets that I use for medium-and med-low heat sautéeing and they are very non-stick too. Haven’t tried the GreenPan ceramic non-stick pans–

  • CarlaCookery  on  August 21, 2020

    We have stainless steel, cast iron and one ceramic nonstick pan. I eliminated all nonstick teflon or teflon looking cookware after watching The Devil We Know.

  • Jpatterson  on  August 22, 2020

    My Anolon cookware works amazingly well and is extremely durable. Nothing cooks like the Maviel copper though. I also use cast iron for many things.

  • Jpatterson  on  August 22, 2020

    Copper can last a lifetime. Ok so my old Maviel copper pans are nickel lined. Where can I get them renickled/relined? I live in California not France.

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