It's durable enough for a restaurant kitchen but attractive enough for a dinner party.
If you've been looking for cookware that's both versatile and durable, but affordable, look no further than Symon Home, the cookware collection that Chef Michael Symon and his wife Liz designed for HSN. Symon told Food & Wine that the line was inspired not only by his decades of experience cooking in restaurants, where “everything is about functionality, so I don’t worry about how pots and pans look,” but also by 25 years of entertaining and hosting dinner parties as a couple. The result is a practical collection for home cooks, one that “performs like restaurant equipment, but [that] you could set in the middle of the table to entertain.”
“We took everything that we’ve learned from 30 years in the restaurant business and brought it into the home kitchen in a seamless, useful way,” Symon says.
In the first batch of Symon Home products, you’ll find cast enamel pans, a set of chef knives, and a set of wooden spoons, among other smaller, but still essential, kitchen appliances (like a pair of tongs). Here are Symon’s tips for how to get the most out of the line:
“I go to a sauce pan to the stove top and make a mess,” admits Symon, who says that Liz often teases him for cooking in their home as though he’s still in a bustling kitchen.
If you’re mess prone like Symon, the kitchen tools—like the wooden spoon spatula—are designed to sit upright rather than laying directly on the counter, reducing your post-cooking clean up.
One of Symon’s favorite dinners to cook for family and friends is his “Sunday supper” of braised meatballs and pasta. He uses the 4-quart casserole pot to cook his meatballs (he says sausage also works), but since it’s a Sunday (although this method would work any day of the week), he makes it easier on himself by serving the meat directly from the pot at the dinner table, alongside a “big bowl of pasta and beautiful crisp salad.” He also brings the acacia wood spatulas and spoons out from the kitchen, which can double as serving utensils.
According to Symon, cast enamel pans are also an essential tool for both beginning home cooks and those who are more experienced. If you ever plan to cook for your family, cast enamel is the way to go because it “holds heat the best, which makes them the most forgiving, makes clean up relatively easy, they release food really well, and you still have the ability to caramelize, which you can’t do with a straight non-stick pan.”
Symon think that one of the collection’s greatest strengths is its versatility. If you’re a seasoned dinner party host, or looking to get entertain guests more often, Symon Home offers a simple 2-in-1 deal: You can serve dinner in the same dishes that you cooked in, which cuts down on time and mess.
“People want to know how to make things taste great, look great, and present great, for a reasonable amount of money and in an easy fashion,” Symon explains. “If we didn’t have these great cast enamel pans, we’d have to scoop [the food] out, then put it on a platter, then clean the platter. All those things make entertaining harder, which is why people don’t always want to entertain."
The Symon Home collection cuts down on some of those steps—you’ll still have to dishes, of course, but Symon hopes he and Liz’s designs simplify and demystify the process.
“We find a lot of joy in entertaining,” he explains. “We just want to show people that if you have the right stuff, this really isn’t as hard as people make it out to be.”
And you can start out small, working your way up to bigger dinner parties once you get comfortable: The pieces in the current collection serve anywhere from four to ten people at a time.
Not only will the collection give you a high level of functionality, it also looks good on the table, according to Symon. He and Liz chose a series of colors that he hopes people will be proud to showcase on their dining rooms tables.
“We tried to pair up a lot of different color options,” he explains. “[The tools] are going to come in burgundy, grey, and blue. I’m a mix and matcher, but people can have all burgundy—burgundy handles on the wooden tools, burgundy handles on the knife set—so there can be cohesiveness to it.”
Comfort is key
The couple decided to create a range of sizes for the chef’s knives because Liz would often grab her husband’s knife while cooking and think, “This is stupid, this doesn’t work for me.” She needed something smaller, and figured other people out there would want the same thing.
“We designed a chef’s knife that’s around 8/12 or 9 inches that’s [comfortable] for me, and a 5-inch knife that is comfortable for Liz,” explains Symon.
The chef is also slightly arthritic, so he designed the smaller tools, like the peeler, to be especially comfortable to hold.
Symon Home 12" Enameled Cast Iron Frypan, $40 on hsn.com
Symon Home 3-piece Stainless Steel Knife Set, $30 on hsn.com
Symon Home 3-piece Essential Kitchen Tool Set, $20 on hsn.com
Watch Michael Symon introduce Symon Home on HSN at 12p.m. and 4 p.m. tomorrow.