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Cookware is a personal thing, many chefs will tell you. Find the right instruments for you to improve your skills and enhance your final product. But while many chefs, professionals and amateurs alike prefer one particular brand of cookware to another, only one brand stands out as the clear choice of the majority.

All-Clad Cookware has established a reputation as the preeminent manufacturer of cooking devices. From technical features to varied styles to artistic designs, All-Clad receives praise from nearly every individual who uses it. It could not be said that such products are perfect or that they are the end-all, be-all of cooking; and, moreover, fine cookware is produced by such other companies as Calphalon and Paul Revere, but even these do not receive the universal commendation of their buyers.

There are several technical features that distinguish All-Clad cookware from its competitors. The first is its triple-ply construction. While all top quality cookware uses an aluminum core to help distribute heat properly along the base of their pots and pans, All-Clad extends this aluminum layer up the sides of the pans. The continuation of the aluminum provides for better heat conductivity and distribution along the sides of pots; this is especially important for gas ranges, which often send flames up the sides of the cookware. All-Clad’s aluminum core prevents food from burning or from cooking unevenly. On top of the aluminum layer is a stainless steel layer that is excellent for cooking, as it will not react with foods (marring their tastes). Outside the aluminum layer is a layer of 1) anodized aluminum, 2) magnetic stainless steel, 3) brushed aluminum alloy, or 4) copper. The outside layer is determined by the style of cookware chosen.

All-Clad also offers a four-ply series of non-stick cookware, with a non-stick surface covering the stainless steel interior.

An additional advantage to All-Clad is the long, stay cool handles. The handles are ergonomically designed and have long reaches to reduce heat and improve the ease of hanging.

Unfortunately, there is no such thing as perfection and even All-Clad suffers from occasional inconvenience. A chief concern for these quality products is keeping the cookware clean. Only the magnetic stainless steel exterior is suitable for dishwashers, which means frequent cooks will do a whole lot of washing by hand. The copper exterior is even more problematic, as it must be burnished to keep it looking bright and stainless (heat and exposure to oxygen will discolor the copper over time if it is not polished).

Furthermore, in spite of every attempt to keep the handles cool, the incredible heat distribution properties of All-Clad tend to warm the pots and pans up significantly, which can translate to hot handles for high heats. Some users, who do not hang their pans, but store them in cabinets instead, may find that the long handles become an inconvenience rather than a feature.

Although the cookware requires more effort to keep it clean, many users demand just such exacting appearance from their pots and pans. For them, the pots and pans are so attractive that they can be used as serving dishes themselves, eliminating the necessity of additional cleaning and even expense, if one prefers to disregard such purchases altogether (this would do much to offset the cost of the cookware). To increase the effect of such design at the table, All-Clad even offers a line of stainless steel kitchen tools to complement their cookware.

All-Clad is expensive and it is not perfect, but it has achieved what few brand names have managed in any manufacturing process: appeal that is not just widespread, it is almost universal. Even the most stringent and exacting chefs approve of All-Clad cookware and recommend it for use at home or in a professional kitchen.