Name's Tim, newb to the board, amateur cooking fanatic in the making. Just a quick background to help answer my question...
Got the cooking gene from my mom, who is a fantastic cook. Started dabbling in it through helping her at the age of 8 or 10. Cooked a few things here and there in my teenage years, but had more important things on my mind at that time haha. Started seriously cooking about 6 years ago (currently 26y.o.). Got a set of Cuisinart Multiclad three years ago for Christmas. LOVE my 10" skillet, it's my go to pan for everyday use. Use the 1.5 and 3 qt saucepans a lot for various sauces, reheating leftovers, etc...
Starting to get to a point in my life where I'm realizing what hobbies I TRULY enjoy, and being the "planner" that I am I'm constructing a "Kitchen Wish List" of things I want to start acquiring over the years. My line of thinking is, even if I have to save up just to buy one pan, if that pan outlasts me, well then it's money well-spent. I've got a good understanding of what I like to cook, and what kind of pans I will need. Dutch oven, cast iron, etc are all things I'm planning on but this post is purely for SS clad/disc bottom pans.
So I'm looking at slowly adding pans to my cupboards. At this point, I've done a tone of research and know that there are a LOT of good pans out there (Demeyere, AllClad, Calphalon/Cuisinart, Bourgeat, Sitram, Paderno, Mauviel, Falk, etc...). I know I'm looking for disc bottom for things like a saute pan, fully clad/copper for sauciers, fully clad/copper for fry pans, etc.
My eternal question however is this:
What are the real-world benefits I'll see by cooking with a $300 pan versus a $100 pan? My style of cooking is generally just good, old-fashioned cooking like Mom used to make. I'm no gourmet, nor do I aspire to be. I simply want to be a "good cook". I want to have friends over for dinner, and not wow them with a 7-course classically inspired French meal. I want to grill some ribs, or make a great seared steak with a pan sauce, or whip up a nice chicken alfredo. Or whip up a mole and braise some chicken in it for a Mexican feast. Things like that. Last night I browned some beef in my Multiclad skillet, whipped up a quick gravy, threw together some mashed potatoes, reheated some frozen corn from the farmer's market, and made some weird version of shepherd's pie that was pretty darn tasty. Obviously my skills will increase as I go along, but like I said, my goal is to just be a really good, homestyle cook.
I guess I just can't wrap my head around how much better the food will taste cooked in a Demeyere Atlantis pan vs a Sitram or Paderno pan. Or even a Calphalon or Cuisinart. I fully understand how cladding and disc bottom works, and how some have greater thicknesses with the core and whatnot.
I just don't understand where the real-world benefits come into play. Aside from copper's great heat conduction which makes it great for sauciers and the like (I definitely plan on a copper saucier, probably SS lined). So I'm good to go on that.
But for my saute pans, skillets, etc will I be just as well served with a $80 pan than I will with a $300 pan? Aesthetics and handles aside, I can cross that bridge after I get this other stuff figured out haha.
Long winded I know, but for those of you who made it through, thank you and I look forward to your help!