October 31 2011
Lucia van der Post
There’s something curiously satisfying about rows of gleaming saucepans, all arranged neatly by size. Since saucepans have been rethought and redesigned by almost every major chef, from Raymond Blanc to Jamie Oliver, I wasn’t too excited at first by Michel Roux’s new collection of GreenPan cookware, until I looked into it a little further.
These don’t have quite the gleaming beauty of Alessi’s magnificent contribution to the world of pots and pans, but they do have something else – a non-stick surface which, unlike most non-stick materials, does not include polytetrafluoroethylene. This is a substance that, when heated above 260°C, starts to break down; it also releases fumes that are known to be responsible for killing pet birds. On its own website, DuPont, which makes Teflon, says that “bird owners should take steps to protect their pets, such as keeping their birds out of the kitchen”. GreenPan, though, uses Thermolon, a ceramic material that can withstand very high levels of heat (up to 450°C). A pan that was sent to Michel Roux to try in the kitchens of Le Gavroche became so popular he found that each of his chefs tried to hide it and keep it for himself. A normal frying pan, it seems, lasts only a few weeks in a professional kitchen. The GreenPan one was still going strong after many months.
This led Roux to develop an interest in the company, for which he has now designed a complete range of 11 saucepans, all from a professional point of view, carefully assessing weight, balance and function. They are made from tri-ply stainless steel with an aluminium core for even heat distribution. Four of the pans are non-stick – three frying pans of different sizes (from £55 to £80 for the largest, which is 28cm in diameter) and a pan for milk or scrambled egg (£50).