As for me, my kitchen contains just about every brand and type of cookware that’s out there, with the exception of the celebrity chef line cookware that seems to emulate the reputable brands that have been around for a much longer time. I grab things from tag sales, estate sales, thrift shops and of course, my local Marshall’s and T.J. Maxx, especially when they have that lovely red sale tag on them that seems to be calling my name. I thought this was just another characteristic of a foodie like myself, someone who puts cooking and creating in the kitchen above all other household duties.
Recently, I’ve had a bit of a change of heart about the quality of my cookware when I realized that every time I cooked with my Le Creuset dutch oven, my food really did taste a lot better than it did if I cooked it in an an aluminum pot of the same size and shape. This was particularly true when I made things like lamb stews and other one-pot meat dishes. But, was I just imagining it? After all, Le Creuset is some of the most expensive cookware on the market, even if you buy at an outlet mall or retail store like Marshall’s and T.J. Maxx.
A few months ago, I visited a Le Creuset store (didn’t even know they existed as stand-alone stores) at an outlet mall and was able to see the variety of cookware they offer to home and professional cooks. I was greeted by sales professionals who actually knew a lot about the products and could recommend ways to care for the enamelled cast iron cookware they sell. I thought about my own dutch oven, which was a gift from my mother a few years ago. It had a chip on the lid and the bottom of the pan had some defects, so I was concerned as to why that happened and how to fix it. I was given a piece of paper with detailed instructions on how to return the item to their Quality Control Department located in South Carolina. I was told that Le Creuset, a French company, stands by their products with a Lifetime Limited Warranty.
I have to admit, I didn’t really think it possible for a company to completely replace an item so precious and valuable as my dutch oven, so I hesitated to call and find out if it was possible to get a repair or replacement. Much to my surprise, when I did finally call I was amazed at how easy it was to send the product in and wait for a replacement. I had to pay about $13 to send the bottom of the dutch oven only (they didn’t want the lid). In just a few short weeks, I received a brand new dutch oven, lid and all, shipped to me via FedEx free of charge and without any hassle from the Le Creuset company. Amazing!
What I learned from this experience was that more often than not, you get what you pay for. In this case, I truly missed my Le Creuset pot when I shipped it out and waited for a replacement. My food really did cook differently in other pots, which affected the taste. Also, in the long run it is more cost-efficient to start out with a good-quality, all-purpose piece of cookware bought from a company that stands behind their products’ quality, versus going out and spending another $30-50 for a mediocre replacement.
In these turbulent economic times, it’s often easier to think about what’s less-expensive right now rather than thinking ahead towards what can cost us more later. Think of this as ’smart home economics’ for your kitchen tools.
I think I’ll be making a lamb stew soon…
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