A guest blog from Corina Quinn, a former Chicago Home + Garden assistant who’s now associate editor at La Cucina Italiana



It generally takes a few life stages to equip your kitchen with professional or investment pieces—I’m still in between a few myself. But more and more, longstanding imperial brands are adopting a “grow into it” philosophy toward their cookware, offering lower-priced but quality sets that call to mind the now-retro idea of a starter home. Here are a few I spotted at the International Home & Housewares Show last month. I love the idea of being able to own some of these high-performing pieces without ignoring my pay scale:

All-Clad’s new MC2 line is made of stainless steel and a brushed aluminum exterior that’s lighter in weight yet designed for heavy usage. $500 for 10-piece set (single saucepan shown here).

Mauviel is synonymous with fancy copper cookware, but the M’Cook 5-ply line combines the French manufacturer’s quality in an ergonomic set made of stainless steel, aluminum, and magnetic steel. $750 for 9-piece set, mauvielusa.com.

This August, Circulon will unveil this eye-popping red version of its popular Contempo series, an induction-suitable, dishwasher-safe entry line of the gourmet brand. $200 for 10-piece set.

Renowned knife producer Hampton Forge unveiled the Skandia, geared for first-time apartment dwellers and college students with a reliable, space-savvy block of five symbol-coded knives and three color-coded synthetic cutting boards. $80.