Why Our Associate Restaurant Editor Is Obsessed with This Pan
The Always Pan promises to replace eight pieces of cookware—and it delivers.
The year is 2020, and my Instagram feed overfloweth with advertisements for direct-to-consumer cookware urging me to replace the battered starter pieces in my kitchen with ultra-sleek, over-achieving newcomers. Given both my job and my inexplicable proclivity to be an early adopter, I’m a sucker for these brands, but I’m also a realist about the extremely limited cabinet and counter space in my New York City apartment. In fact, I often compare the pots, pans, and skillets vying for space in my tiny New York City kitchen to the characters in Lord of the Flies; like in the book, someone almost always gets hurt (read: relegated to the donation pile).
On first glance, The Always Pan from Our Place seems like it was made to win new-wave cookware bingo: designed in Los Angeles, it comes in a muted, chic rose color called “spice”, and claims to do the work of eight pieces of traditional cookware. What drew me in, though, was the message behind the brand, which prominently features people of color in their kitchens, cooking their own food, and enjoying it with their families. Created by education nonprofit Malala Fund cofounder Shiza Shahid, Our Place celebrates cultural food traditions through limited-edition color releases of the Always Pan and other pieces centered around holidays. For Ramadan, the pan goes green, and for Chinese New Year, it comes in a vibrant red alongside a limited-edition cleaver, serving platter, and bamboo steamer.
In my own kitchen, the pan earns its keep by easily transforming from stir-fry wok to dumpling steamer to steak skillet. I use it to make pancakes in the morning and simmer pasta sauce for dinner; it’s just as good for frying eggs as it is for sautéing greens. The handle’s nesting spatula rest saves me from dirtying my countertop or a plate, and the built-in spout makes it easy to serve curries when I can’t find a ladle in the chaos of my utensils drawer.
I don’t want to say the other items in my kitchen should be worried, but they’re definitely going to be up against some stiff competition.
To buy: The Always Pan, $145 at fromourplace.com
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I’m not quite sure why the word “side” is in here, because as far as I’m concerned, these are the main event. I reach for them when I need to serve soup or salad, as I feel like they tend to be a little too wide and deep for things like oatmeal and cereal. The speckle pattern is beautiful when paired with the spice-colored terracotta bottom.
The Side Bowls, $45 at ourplace.com
Good tortillas do a lot of heavy lifting when it comes to tacos and pozole, which is why they deserve a cozy, elegant home. Woven on a treadle loom by Textiles la Soledad in Oaxaca de Juárez, these warmers are part of Our Place’s Makers collection.
Soledad Tortilla Warmers, $40 at fromourplace.com
This cleaver is, in a way, the Always Pan of my knife drawer. It’s just as well-suited for chopping up stubborn root vegetables as it is mushrooms or bok choy, and the grip feels nice and secure. If you’re looking to add this to your kitchen, act fast: the Lunar New Year collection won’t be on the site forever.
Eternal Strength Cleaver, $95 at fromourplace.com