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Simply Calphalon or Kitchen Aid KCH1S10KD ?
on December 15, 2015
First, I did not receive these products for free, I bought them. The Simply Calphalon was rated a best buy by CR and I thought that the specs for the Kitchen Aid KitchenAid KCH1S10KD Hard Anodized Nonstick 10-Piece Cookware Set - Black Diamondmade them worth consideration. I have been in the restaurant business for over 30 years so I have a lot of experience with pans, mostly professional sets. So that is my point of reference. The Calphalon and Kitchen Aid were in the same mid-range price point (170 - 220) in November of 2015. Truthfully they are very similar but not equal.
First thing I noticed was that the Simply Calphalon were slightly smaller. Especially the Saute pan. The Kitchen Aid set is dishwasher safe, Calphalon is not. For better or worse (as you'll read better in this case) the Kitchen Aid are heavier. The Calphalon are double-coated nonstick, the Kitchen Aid are triple-coated. Packaging for KA says oven safe to 350 degrees and Cal. says 400. Amazon says 500 for KA vs 400 for Cal. Being curious I had both in the oven at 425 for 15 minutes with no issues. Both are Hard Anodized aluminum. If you have an induction cooktop only KA is compatable.
What is Hard Anodized and does it matter? Hard Anodized pans are naturally nonstick, and completely chemical-free. These pans are made with an aluminum base, which essentially gets submerged in a sulfuric acid bath that has low electrical charges running through it. As it cools, it causes the pans exterior to anodize. A hard anodized pan is extremely strong, has a long lifespan, and because it is virtually non-porous, it resists sticking. Add a few layers of non-stick coating and you have a great, relatively cheap (cost wise), pan.
So what are meaningful differences? The most important, and the one most often overlooked by consumers, is that Calphalon set is 3.2mm thick and the Kitchen Aid is 4.5mm thick. Meaning (all else being equal) the Kitchen Aid is more thermally conductive and durable. And my non-scientific tests show this. The KA heats up far quicker, stays at temp longer and cooks more evenly. It's not even close. Boiling water took about 1:30 less time in the KA and eggs cooked over medium heat in far less time. I had to lower the heat on everything I tested with the KA set. It conducted heat far better that my old Cuisinart or the Simply Calphalon. The difference in thickness also accounts for the difference in weight.
Calphalon double-coated and KA has a triple-coated non-stick coating. The name is pretty explanatory but does it really matter? Yes and no. Right out of the box there is no noticible difference. However, in 4-5 years there should be a difference. Kitchen Aid's triple-coating should last longer and look better. We'll wait and see.
The Kitchen Aid is dishwasher safe the Simply Calphalon is not. Truthfully, I don't care what the manufacture says if you want you cookware to last don't put it in the dishwasher. With the non-stick coating it takes little effort to clean these so it's not worth it. Also, don't use metal instruments and never use cooking spray. Buy silicon utensils and a oil mister. The utensils are cheap and a mister lasts forever and is less expensive than 2 cans of Pam.
Real world cooking experience. After spending a week with each I gave the Calphalon to my son who recently moved out. They are nice pans and should take most of his abuse but they do not compare with the Kitchen Aid set. Cooking is quicker, food cooks more evenly and they look great. The deep black finish and flat tops are a stark change from the grey, domed cookware you usually see. I did find that the handles of the Calphalon set were slightly more comfortable. But that is subjective. Anyway who holds their pans for more than 10 seconds at a time?Neither sets handles became hot but, as expected, the handles on the lids of both became hot.
Lastly, while I like the look of the flat lids on the Kitchen Aid set, they do have issues. Domed lids like those on the Cal. set allow the condensation to continually drain. The flat lids tend to collect the condensation so that when you remove them... water everywhere. You quickly learn to tilt them as you remove but it is something of which to be aware.
Are they a professional set, no. But restaurants cook 300+ meals a day with people who don't care if the pans last to the next shift. So why pay triple the price? Well, the speed at which a 6mm or 7mm thick set gets to temp. is nice but that's the only difference. Usually, the Kitchen Aid set is slightly more than the Simply Calphalon but the they are worth the difference. So, for a mid-priced set of cookware, I don't think you'll find a better value than the Kitchen Aid.
I hope this is helpful in your decision. Be well.