When you think about it, there hasn’t been that much innovation when it comes to the cookware we use. Sure, we’ve seen new materials and design concepts in the past century or so, but the pans were and they are still round. Is there a reason for it?
Come to think of it, a 9-inch square-shaped pan would have more volume than a round 9-inch pan. Maybe we should be making this switch, especially because we don’t have to mold our cooking vessels from clay or a single sheet of metal anymore. And even if we do, we have better technology that should be able to make square pots and pans with ease.
Gotham Steel is one of the rare companies that is truly exploring this new concept. Let’s see what they have to offer, and how they compare to our favorite, Calphalon (a brand respected for both innovation and the quality of their products at a great price). Bring on the Gotham Steel vs Calphalon showdown.
This brand belongs to the Emson Company, of the As Seen on TV fame. Emson itself is not the manufacturer, but more a sourcing and marketing agent. Where Gotham Steel exactly comes from, it’s difficult to tell. All that’s known is that the products are manufactured in China and that became available to US consumers through informercials first.
Gotham Steel is a little bit more popular amongst bakers because of its innovative and effective nonstick bakeware. Each baking pan is covered by a ceramic nonstick coating that is not only non-toxic but also releases food with ease.
When they ventured into regular cookware, they made a splash with their “only pan you will ever need”. It referred to a square-shaped pan that could be used for any job in the kitchen, including steaming and deep fat frying. It’s actually a great design idea, especially for students and people with small kitchens. And to top it off, the product features the same amazing ceramic nonstick coating.
Top set – Gotham Steel 10-Piece Square Set
What’s in the box?
An 8-inch and a 10-inch frying pan, a 1.5-quart and a 2.5-quart saucepan, and a 6-quart stockpot with a steaming rack.
- Interesting concept.
- Very affordable.
- Non-toxic and durable ceramic coating.
- A novelty item with a few very important issues.
Let’s start with the good. The square bottom of these pots and pans gives you a lot of surface for browning and cooking in general. That also means that you get more capacity out of cookware that takes less space. The ceramic nonstick coating is completely non-toxic and safe, and perfectly suited for cooking tricky and delicate foods.
Also, every item from this set is suitable for all heat sources and oven safe up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit (whole 100 degrees more than a good chunk of the competition). These are all fantastic specs, but…
In theory, this set is awesome, but in practice, there’s a lot of things that were not done right.
The overall quality feels similar to something you would find on sale in your local supermarket. It’s not too bad and it would do the trick for a new cook who plans to slowly build up a repertoire of better quality pots and pans. However, there is a big design aspect that’s making it frustrating to use and energy inefficient: a round disc on square pans.
Each piece has a round disc at the bottom, just like your regular round pots and pans. This is the disc that conducts the heat to the rest of the pan (especially if you’re cooking on an induction cooktop), and you can see where this is going. Those corners are not covered properly which means that there won’t be even heating and that it will take longer to bring the food to a boil. Temperature maintenance is not as bad, but it’s not that great either.
Someone who cooks 4 grilled sandwiches in one go, and everyone who likes novelty items.
Calphalon is one of the brands that fall under the umbrella of the international manufacturer, Newell Brands Inc. This makes them related to other household names like Rubbermaid, Sistema, Sharpie, Crock-Pot, Yankie Candle, etc.
It was originally founded in 1963 by Ronald M Kasperzak under the name Commercial Aluminum Cookware. It used to supply only restaurant and cooking schools with cookware, before becoming available to home cooks as well in the mid-80s. Today, the brand is still beloved by professionals and amateurs alike.
Calphalon is known for both quality and innovation, yet that quality never suffers for the sake of a novelty. Even when a pan is supposed to look pretty in a home kitchen, at the same time it also has to have the durability of the ones used in commercial kitchens.
And when Calphalon innovates, it concentrates on real problems home cooks encounter. For example, the shortage of storage space or (as you will see with the cookware set below) preventing spillovers.
What’s in the box?
An 8-inch and a 10-inch frying pan, a 2.5-quart saucepan with a no-boil-over insert, a 3-quart saute pan, and a 6-quart stockpot with a no-boil-over insert.
- Works great on all cooktops, dishwasher, and oven safe up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Smart features like No-Boil-Over inserts and stay-cool handles.
- Proprietary PFOA-free nonstick coating for healthy and eco-friendly cooking.
- Almost $100 more expensive than the Gotham Steel set.
First look, this is a cookware set that looks exactly the same as so many that are available these days. Where’s the innovation?
These simple silicone inserts, for a start. It’s such a simple addition that goes a long way to prevent messy (and sometimes even dangerous) spills. They also feature a large opening so you can stir the pot or add ingredients without removing the insert every time.
Even without them, this is a solid, well-made, and durable set. None of the pieces feel flimsy when picked up and when on the stove, they heat up quickly, provide even heating, and maintain temperatures with ease.
Someone who wants innovative pots and pans that will last through years of use and abuse.
The showdown: Gotham Steel vs Calphalon
Gotham Steel has a small collection of cookware. Most of what they offer are several individual pieces and their combos for sets of different sizes.
In comparison, Calphalon is a proper giant. If we ignore the fact that they make many more things for the kitchen (large appliances included), we still have a lot to choose from since they have 8 different collections of pots and pans.
Calphalon is famous and beloved for its commercial-grade quality. Of course, there is a bit of a difference between collections, with more affordable ones being slightly inferior to their premium offerings. That being said, they still tend to come on top when compared to other brands within the same price bracket.
Gotham Steel, on the other hand, is less professional kitchen or cooking school, and more As Seen on TV. And just like most the infomercial stuff, though the quality is not bad, it’s overshadowed by the novelty factor.
Gotham Steel is extremely affordable. You can get a full cookware set from them for only $150.
You can also spend only that much on Calphalon if you wish, but most of their interesting sets retail for $300 to $400. The most expensive set goes for about $700.
Gotham Steel is mostly available through their website and Amazon, as well as Walmart and Home Depot. On the other hand, Calphalon is also available from other large retailers, brick and mortar stores, as well as professional kitchen supply shops.
Both brands don’t use Teflon. Calphalon created a proprietary PFOA-free nonstick coating, while Gotham Steele uses a type of ceramic coating that is free of both PFOA and PTFE.
Though Gotham Steele is made in China, there are no reports of issues with production. Especially since their factory is not located in Xinjiang province, a place that is filled with Uyghur labor camps.
Calphalon also doesn’t have any black marks against its name as of now, though it has to be said that their parent company, Newell Brands, landed themselves in hot water recently. Most recently, it was for safety concerns in factories during the lockdown in Australia, though this incident is related to another brand under their umbrella and has nothing to do with Calphalon itself.
Which one should you pick?
Let’s talk shape first. Square pans give you more cooking surface and provide more volume, while round ones are more energy-efficient. If you find yourself cooking 4 servings of French toast each morning, it may be more practical to pick a square pan. And since Gotham Steele is the only one here that makes them, go for them.
But if you don’t want to wait forever for a pot of water to boil, it may be a good idea to take a pass on the novelty shape. Plus, Calphalon is a great choice who want restaurant-quality on a home cook budget.