Tag Archives: wok

Frying pans: everything you never wanted to know (but should!)

Remember when there was only one kind of frying pan?

Okay, I don’t either, but in light of all the advancements in material, cooking styles and food trends, I thought it might be a good idea to offer a crash course in frying pans, including the different types of material, size, usage, and care and maintenance of your frying pans.

Here we go.

Material and construction

Nonstick. “Nonstick” usually refers to a surface coated with a layer of calphalon, anodized aluminum, or sometimes a proprietary material to keep foods from sticking to the pan while cooking. Another pro: Nonstick pans can be used for lower-calorie cooking because additional oil is not required. Con: May not be as durable as a natural finish due to natural wear-and-tear in a restaurant environment.

Natural. A pan with a natural stainless steel or aluminum finish allows for fast, even heating and can often stand up to heavier abuse in the kitchen than pans with a nonstick coating.

Hard Coat. Some brands advertise a “hard coat” finish, which simply means the pan has an additional layer of anodized aluminum (meaning, aluminum hardened by oxidation) making the surface more durable and resistant to scratches and wear.

Induction-ready. Because induction cooking generates heat via an electromagnetic current, the induction cookware must have a magnetic element to conduct heat. Normally induction fry pans have a layer of carbon steel or magnetic stainless steel. Induction cookware has superior heating capabilities and is ideal for use in buffet and catering environments because there is no open flame.

Carbon Steel. As mentioned above, carbon steel can be used for induction cooking. It conducts heat quickly and evenly, and is also safe for use on gas or electric cook tops, or in an oven or broiler.

Cast Iron. Cast iron is also a sturdy material than conducts and holds heat well. It is heavy, durable, and lasts for years with the proper care. Make sure that your cast iron skillet is properly seasoned before using to prevent oxidation and ensure a nonstick surface.

Copper. Copper cookware is making a comeback, due to its superior heat conduction. It is often combined with a layer of stainless steel for added durability.

Size, Shape and Usage

Ribbed vs. smooth. A ribbed pattern in the pan helps drain away fat and creates grill marks for a more appealing presentation.

French Style. A French style fry pan has a balanced handle and specially curved edge for easily tossing ingredients in the pan.

Woks. A wok is used for stir-frying and traditional Chinese cooking. The pan is wide and round. Woks are most commonly constructed from carbon steel or cast iron.


When cleaning nonstick cookware, or any piece that has additional coating, don’t use abrasive or steel wool sponges or scrubbers, as they will scratch the coating. The best technique is to use soapy water and dry thoroughly.

Never put a hot pan immediately into cold water– this will cause cracking and wear.

Sometimes soaking nonstick cookware in soapy water can actually cause the coating to retain a soapy flavor. Remove stains with a little baking soda or bleach water and rinse immediately with hot water.

Cast iron fry pans should not rust or wear if properly seasoned. Clean cast iron by letting it cool, washing with a little soap and water (never let it soak, as this will break down the seasoning) and dry thoroughly. Then place the clean, dry pan on a warm burner and lightly oil the inside of the pan with a neutral cooking oil.

Just like aluminum, copper cookware can change color with use and exposure to air. Wash with soap and water and remove tarnish with a mixture of salt and lemon juice or a commercial copper polish. Be careful to remove any mixture or polish by rinsing thoroughly and drying.


Never put any piece of cookware away without thoroughly drying it. Store fry pans with the lids off, especially in humid climates. If needed, store with a paper towel in the pan to absorb any excess moisture.

Post-event wrapup: NAFEM 2009, Orlando

The 2009 NAFEM Show, held in Orlando, Florida, this month at the Orange County Convention Center featured several common trends in foodservice products and equipment, including food safety, green/sustainability trends, multi-function appliances, and appliances that increase productivity and decrease prep time.

Tarrison offers an induction range with a concave surface, like a wok. Chefs love induction ranges for their powerful and precise heating capabilities; hotels and caterers are beginning to embrace them for the safety aspect– no open flame. View Tarrison’s flyer here.(PDF)

Chef Revival – The fully-insulated Rotissi-glove couples protection up to 350°F with the dexterity needed for easy handling. Chef Revival also offers a variety of chef and service apparel—much more than just your average cook’s whites.

Robot Coupe, known for its rugged, high volume food prep blenders, unveiled the new and improved CL50 Ultra. It prepares 1,200 servings in three hours or less and has dozens of attachments for versatile processing.

Hatco – Known for warming equipment, Hatco introduced the Glo-Ray Max Watt Foodwarmer, which holds food at the optimal serving temperature, but with more space and higher clearance. Hatco also introduced a sexy new black heated glass shelf—a heated shelf for self-service with a more modern presentation.

Tradeco – Their trendy square china has been around for a while, but is growing in popularity as chains restaurants struggle to be distinct from their competition. Tradeco also offers a variety of colors in their popular Celebration line of dinnerware.

Vulcan unveiled a new Energy Star certified convection oven and hot holding cabinet in one. Operators can now take food straight from the oven and load it into the cabinet for instant hot-holding. This unit offers energy-savings, labor-savings and space-savings—a triple threat!

No more flipping burgers

Vulcan also had on display a gas (or electric) rapid-recovery griddle, now available with an upper plate, allowing the operator to grill on both sides without flipping.

Blakeslee – I got a chance to see how far we’ve come in dish-machine technology—Blakeslee had on display a dish machine from 1912! The all-manual unit actually had a crank that was used to lower and raise dishes from the tank. Their current line of dish machines are much more advanced—reducing both water usage and the energy used to heat dishwater.

Cleveland Range’s new “Mini” Combi Oven Steamer is, obviously, a convection oven and steamer in one, with dozens of capabilities, including cook-and-hold, slow-cooking, and features that allow the operator to program frequently used recipes into the system for one-touch cooking.

Cooper-Atkins offers dozens of different HACCP monitoring systems for food safety, including TempTrak, which provides around-the-clock monitoring and alerts, and user-friendly software for keeping the numbers organized and stored.

San Jamar introduced the Saf-T-Wash Food Sanitizer, designed to thoroughly sanitize product, increasing the shelf-life of produce and reducing costs by eliminating the need for expensive chemicals. The unit attaches to the faucet, using your water line to combine sanitizer with water. It easily switches back and forth from water to sanitizer.

Scotsman’s new Prodigy Nugget® Ice Machine is one of the most energy-efficient ice machines available. It’s Energy Star certified, and comes equipped with an alert system for operation and maintenance, so in addition to using less water and electricity than typical ice machines, it also helps reduce costs associated with service calls.