The following information is provided
courtesy of The Catering Equipment Suppliers Association.
pans, baking dishes and serving dishes and comes in hundreds of
shapes and sizes and perform hundreds of different cooking
tasks, but when construction is stripped down to the basics,
there are just a handful of materials used in professional
Black Iron -
The most simple and cheapest cookware made from mild steel.
While cost is on its side, rusting is a risk. They are not
particularly easy to clean and if not thoroughly dried,
tarnishing can occur overnight necessitating cleaning again
before being used for cooking.
frying pans are notorious for sticking with items such as fish
and eggs and the pan has to be seasoned before use. A layer of
salt is put on the inside base and heated up. The effect of this
is to seal any surface imperfection in the base of the pan. The
salt is removed, replaced by cooking oil and heated till it
smokes. The pan is then ready for use. But if it is washed in
soapy water, then the whole seasoning process has to be re-done.
This is why Chinese chefs seldom wash their black iron woks and
seem never to be troubled with food sticking. When black iron
was much more common in kitchens chefs would often keep one pan
kept aside just for omelettes.
The workhorse of many kitchens and still the predominant pan
metal for institutional kitchens where the kitchen is on a very
tight capital cost budget. The advantage of aluminium is that it
is cheap, does not corrode and is a superb conductor of heat.
This makes aluminium a good pan for boiling and on cost grounds
is suitable for very big pans such as stockpots. One of its big
disadvantages is that it can react with acidic food to give
flavour taint. It also cannot be used on induction hobs and as
with black iron is prone to sticking when food is fried.
aluminium pans are made from a single sheet of metal, but the
best professional aluminium pans have a thicker base to spread
the heat more evenly. Medium-duty aluminium pans with a base
thick of 3mm to 4mm are suitable for open-top cooking ranges,
but with the more intense heat of a solid-top range or for hard
use, a heavy-duty pan with a base of 7mm will perform better.
becoming the material of choice for hotels and restaurants
because it is doesn’t tarnish, is easy to clean, hygienic,
hard-wearing, less prone to sticking than other metals and looks
good. Because it is so popular, there is wide variation in
stainless steel quality on the market. As with aluminium, the
base of the pan will be layered. This usually takes the form of
a three-layer sandwich with stainless steel on the bottom,
aluminium in the middle to give good conductivity and stainless
steel on top. Some top of the range pans will have up to seven
stainless steel pans look serviceable, but are unsuitable for
the professional kitchen. The thin gauge of the metal on cheap
stainless steel pans gives very poor heat distribution, they
will tarnish easily and because the metal surface is poorly
polished sticking can be a problem. On workplace safety grounds
cheap stainless steel pans can also be dangerous. The tack
welding that holds the handle on could be very poor and snap
without warning when full with hot liquid.
Most professional kitchens have a small selection of non-stick
cookware. It is perfect for frying delicate fish such as sole
and plaice, omelettes never stick and using non-stick frying
pans can be part of a low-fat style of cooking. The cheapest
non-stick is coated on aluminium, but because of the relative
softness of aluminium, the non-stick layer will not last as long
as it could when on steel. The main cause of damage to the
the obvious one of using metal utensils is getting the
temperature too high which will damage the coating. While normal
frying is done at 200
deg C, flash
frying over a fierce heat can send the base temperature way over
250 deg C causing splitting of the non-stick coating. That is
why true wok cooking works better with black iron woks rather
than non-stick woks.
Once the material of choice in the classic professional kitchen,
their use is dwindling in the face of stainless steel. The
traditional construction would be copper for the conductivity
lined with tin to protect the food from contamination from the
It is still
possible to buy copper-tin pans and they can still be retinned,
but copper lined with stainless steel is the growing part of
this market, for all the qualities that stainless steel has
combined with the conductivity and good looks of copper. One
downside of copper pans is their solid metal handles, which can
get far hotter than the tubular handles found on stainless steel
or aluminium cookware.
While these colourful dishes are more often used for food
presentation on a servery, they have a lot of temperature
tolerance. The manufacturing process can see the clay baked at
1300 deg C for up to 10 hours to achieve great toughness. This
material will withstand a temperature range of –20 deg to 250
deg, making them suitable for oven to counter use. Most are
dishwasher-friendly and all can be placed in a microwave oven,
but definitely not on a hob as the sudden burst of heat will
cause the ceramic to shatter.
pots are available with matching lids for closed-lid cooking in
the oven and to help keep the food warm while on a service
counter. Baked-on food debris will benefit from soaking in water
before going into the dishwasher, but avoid abrasive scouring
pads of detergents as this may damage the surface. Stacking the
dishes inside each other can also contribute to surface
cast iron -
These pans and casserole dishes are made in cast iron for
strength, conductivity of heat and heat retention, then coated
both inside and out with an enamel paint which is baked onto the
cast iron at high temperature to give a smooth cooking surface
and prevent rusting. The colourful nature of these pots and
dishes make them suitable for oven to counter like stoneware.
The enamelled surface is not suitable for frying due a tendency
for sticking. In addition to enamelled cast iron, a variation is
enamelled stainless steel.