A Guide to Composing a Cookware Set

A Guide to Composing a Cookware Set

This guide outlines the factors that should be considered when composing a cookware set.

Phillip & Lea allows customers to compose their own cookware set, so it best matches the cuisines/preparations they cook, as well as the heating source(s) available to them, and the numbers in their household and entertain for. This is in contrast to the standard offering of a limited number of sets with pre-defined items.

At Phillip & Lea, Mauviel 1830 cookware sets attract a discount. The set discount is applied automatically based on the number of items in the cart. For more details on the Mauviel 1830 cookware set discount click HERE

The Steps to Composing a Cookware Set

Below is a summary of the steps to compose a cookware set.

STEP 1: Establish your heating sources.

STEP 2: Select a collection(s) compatible with STEP 1.

STEP 3: Select the shapes based on the function the pans perform.

STEP 4: Select dimensions and capacities based on full portion sizes, and the number in your household, and entertain for.

STEP 5: Select lids.

Heating Source

The heating source that customers should be most cognisant of is the induction hob. Pans with exposed copper or aluminium exterior bases cannot be used on induction hobs. Mauviel have introduced a copper range (M’6S) with a stainless steel base – that does work on induction.

If you have an existing copper pan(s), but have installed or inherited an induction hob - all is not lost. An induction disk can be purchased so your copper pans can be used on an induction hob.

Pan Materials

A cookware collection’s quality is determined by the materials used for the pan’s vessel and handle. Below are the fundamentals in relation to the materials used in cookware.

The metal(s) used for the pan’s vessel determines the speed at which heat is conducted and distributed.

  • Metals that conduct and transmit heat quickly (e.g. copper and aluminium) provide precision heating control, as these metals response quickly to changes in temperature.
  • Metals that transmit heat slowly (e.g. cast iron) respond slowly to changes in temperature. This will be desirable for preparations involving braising and searing.
  • Metals that conduct and transmit heat very quickly (e.g. carbon steel) is best for preparations that require searing heat – such as stir-frying.

Stainless steel is used as an interior and exterior lining. Stainless steel is a poor conductor and transmitter of heat. In general, stainless steel’s primary purpose in cookware is as a cleaning surface and as a barrier to prevent the functional metal (i.e. the metal that conducts and transmits heat) reacting to certain ingredients.

  • Unlined copper pans are designated for specific preparations. For example, a copper jam pan can only be must for making jam and marmalades – cannot be used for other preserving preparations, such as pickling as the copper will react to vinegar. In broad terms unlined copper can be used for egg, butter, sugar and chocolate preparations.
  • Quality stainless steel cookware will have a core of aluminium or copper to the lip of the pan. Low quality stainless cookware will only have an aluminium pad in the base.

The handle material determines how quickly heat is transferred from the vessel to the handle of the pan.

  • Stainless steel is a poor conductor and transmitter of heat - so is the best handle material for retarding the heat transfer from the pan’s vessel. All metal handles will heat up when exposed directly to a heating source – such as when the pan is transferred to the oven.
  • Handles are also made of cast iron and bronze. These handles do heat up from heat transferring from the pan’s vessel. These handles are popular as they’re desired for their aesthetic appeal. If the pan is on the heat for a material length of time, a barrier (such as a heat resistant mitt or cloth) will be required to handle a cast iron or bronze handle.
  • Quality cookware will have metal handles riveted to the pan’s vessel. The latter configuration provides durability and the strongest bond between the handle and vessel.

Pan Height and Splay

The splay and height of a pan signals the intended rate of evaporation. Rate of evaporation is an important aspect of cookery. To demonstrate, the following provides a spectrum of pans with different splay and heights.

  • The frying pans is characterised by being splayed with a very low height relative to its base. The purpose of frying is to caramalise the surface of the ingredient while cooking it to its desired doneness. Moisture of any kind will inhibit any caramelisation – instead it will stew the surface of an ingredient. The characteristics of the frying pan ensures that any moisture that leaches from an ingredient is rapidly evaporated.
  • The splayed saute pan (aka the sauciers) is characterised by a wide splay and medium height relative to its base. The purpose of saucier is to develop a fluid’s flavour and viscosity through rapid evaporation – for example a stock-based sauce. The saucier has the splay to promote rapid evaporation – and the height (or capacity more generally) to hold substantial amount of unreduced fluid.
  • The stockpot is characterised by no splay and very high height relative to its base. The purpose of stock making is to enrich water with the flavours of the ingredients. Enriching water involves many hours of cooking at low temperature while minimising fluid loss due to evaporation. The stockpot has the height to slow evaporation - and the capacity to hold a substantial amount of ingredients and water.

    Pan Shapes and their Function

    The below outlines the main pans used in cookery and their primary function.


    In addition to the above, there are a wide range of specialty pans. Specialty pans are designed for a specific cooking preparation. The pans above will perform the majority of preparations. If a specialty is part of your cooking repertoire it will be worthwhile investing in a specialty pan to achieve the best result. For example, achieving a jam with the correct consistency is very difficult to achieve using any of the pans above. A good jam pan has a large capacity, is splayed and of medium height relative to its base and is made of copper. A jam pan has the capacity for the quantity of fruit and sugar required to make a batch of jam (and foaming that comes from making jam), splay and height for rapid evaporation and made of copper for excellent heat conduction and distribution.

    Sizing Pan Capacity/Dimension

    Once the pan shapes are selected then the next step is to determine their capacity/dimension. Below is an approach that should be considered when determining a pan capacity/dimension.

    • Portion size of a finished cooking preparation, in the context of both a fluid (e.g. soup, stock, sauce, etc.) and a mass (e.g. protein vegetables), is a good measure to estimate the capacity/dimension of a pan. The term finished is important as all cooking preparations need additional (that is, in addition to the portion size) capacity/dimension to cook or reduce. This additional space is essential to achieve the desired result.
    • For an average adult we suggest using 250mls, (for fluids) and a fist (for mass) as a full portion – but chose the one that best suits the appetites of your household. While some cooking preparations are served in 1/2, 1/4, etc. portions, still base the capacities and dimensions on full portions – at least in the first sweep. The other inputs required in the sizing exercise is the number in the household. For a frying example, if I have 4 in the household then I will need to add a 26cm or 30cm frying pan to the cookware set - as it will cook 4 fists of protein or vegetables without overcrowding the pan.
    • It is more than likely that multiples are required of some of the same pans – the second sweep. This is because it will be the case some cooking preparations, that make-up a balanced dish, is served in smaller proportions compared to other cooking preparations. In our frying pan example, you may want to add a 20cm frying pan for tempering spices and other preparations that require a smaller frying pan.
    • If you’re an entertainer you will need to repeat the above exercise to determine if additional pans, or pans with a larger capacity/dimension – that is, over and above the ‘household’ cookware set.

      Role of Lids

      Lids are used to regulate the heat loss through the opening of the vessel and minimising evaporation. Lids are essential for large capacity pans, braising, steaming and cooking preparations that require rapid boiling.   

      A Note on Non-stick Coatings

      Why non-stick coating? Fundamentally it’s an invention borne out of poor temperature control and ingredient preparation – leading to sticking.

      Non-stick coatings are not all created equal. Instead of providing a critique on the various non-stick coatings, we instead provide this tip - cookware (or the cookware makers website) that doesn't bear the trademark of the non-stick coating manufacturer then we strongly recommend you avoid using this cookware. No trademark means there is no means of assessing the ingredients, conformity to standards and durability of the coating.

      Mauviel 1830 uses the Eclipse non-stick coating made by Whitford.

      We are here to help

      As always’ we’re here to help. We have made many pan and cookware set recommendations in our time – and always happy to do so. If you require a recommendation please visit us in-store, call us (03 9011 8433) or email us (info@phillipandlea.com.au).

      Also, a Mauviel 1830 cookware set is a life-long investment and the cost reflects this. The cost in turns reflects the design, materials, skill of the workforce and the origin of the production. In recognition of the cost of a set, Phillip & Lea offer various payments methods to suit your cash flow situation. For more details on the payment methods we accept refer HERE