Tefal Ingenio Expertise 13-piece pot & pan set review (condensed version): a whopping collection of metallic cookware for all your cooking needs.
According to the Tefal website, the French company was founded in 1954 when a bloke called Marc Grégoire coated his wife’s sticky pans in a slippery substance called Teflon (Polytetrafluoroethylene), the same material he’d been using for his fishing gear. ‘Sacré bleu’, they almost certainly hollered in unison on discovering how brilliantly slippery the substance was, and that was that. Using a portmanteau of the words TEFlon and ALuminium, Tefal went on to become one of the world’s biggest suppliers of cookware. So now you know.
The name isn't the end of the cleverness when it comes to Tefal heads. The brand also makes some of the best saucepan sets you can buy.
Now, back to the task in hand and a fair assessment of this cleverly designed set of high-end non-stick coated pans with no ‘andles attached – you add them as required, a bit like when you go camping.
Tefal Ingenio Expertise 13-Piece Pan Set: Design
The first blindingly obvious thing about these induction-ready aluminium pots and pans is that they don’t have any handles. Well they do have handles actually (a pair of them), but they clip on and off when required. This no-handles approach serves four main purposes: they store incredibly easily in a tower that takes up hardly any space in the cupboard (19cm in height if you really want to know); they don’t clutter up the hob and are much safer to use because there’s no handle to brush your elbow past, causing a catastrophic kitchen fail; you can put them straight into the oven as long as the temperature isn’t more than 260˚C (which is hotter than you’ll ever have it); and you can take them straight from hob or oven to the table, if that is your wont.
The Bakelite handles themselves have a clever latch system that locks onto the lip of the pan with the force of crocodile jaws. Once in place, the grip of the handle shows zero evidence of even the slightest movement. Also, it’s almost impossible for the handle to disengage by accident because you actively need to push in two stiff buttons on either side of the handle to release it.
Even the lids are designed for flat stacking because they’re equipped with sprung rubber butterfly grips that sit flush against the lid when a weight is applied from above. These springy lid grips (great name for a band) also happen to have such a pleasantly tactile feel that you will probably fiddle with them from time to time. The lids themselves have a glass top and a slither of space to release steam so stuff like rice doesn’t boil over in a hot frothy mess.
Now, before I venture further I should add that the 13-piece marketing moniker could be construed as a bit misleading because you only get six pans in the set. The other seven pieces consist of two handles, three lids and two opaque plastic lids for sealing in food for storage.
Regarding pot and pan sizes and shapes, the Tefal Ingenio Expertise comprises two saucepans (16cm and 20cm), two frying pans (22cm and 28cm), one 24cm sauté pan and a medium-sized 26cm wok. They are all coated in ‘Titanium Excellence Non-Stick’ for amazing durability. In fact, according to Tefal, the non-stick coating lasts up to three times longer than the company’s Titanium Force coating and you can even attack them with the non-stick coating’s worst enemy, the metal utensil.
Being of Tefal origin, these pans are also equipped with the company’s proprietary Thermo-Spot heat-indicator technology. In a nutshell, all the pans bar the two sauce-specific pans have a large dot in the centre that turns solid red when the pan has reached optimum cooking temperature.
These pans are also dishwasher safe though I’d advise against too many dishwasher sessions because all that stuff going on inside during the wash is a non-stick coating’s second worst enemy. The handles, by the way, are not dishwasher safe at all.
Tefal Ingenio Expertise 13-Piece Pan Set: Performance
I don’t think that there’s anything on Earth that will stick to these pans. Even dog saliva – which is the grippiest and slipperiest substance known to mankind – would have trouble getting a hold, not that I’ve tried it.
Every item in this Tefal Ingenio Expertise set excelled in its duty, on both gas and induction. The pans feel robust but no too heavy in the hand and, while I wasn’t too sure about the removable handles, I can now see the benefit, especially when it comes to storage.
However, this writer and his partner would have preferred a set that included more saucepans in larger sizes and fewer frying pans. But hey, I’m sure that this current combination will happily suffice for the majority of users. Incidentally, if this set doesn’t meet your requirements, there are five other Tefal Ingenio ranges available, including a Jamie Oliver-branded stainless steel set.
Tefal Ingenio Expertise 13-Piece Pan Set: Verdict
If you’re looking for a full set of high-quality saucepans and frying pans that are super easy to store and perform exceptionally well, then this could be the collection for you. Granted, the Tefal Ingenio Expertise 13-Piece Set is quite pricey but the pans are really well made and the non-stick coating is first class.
Nevertheless, despite all the great things about this product, this dyed-in-the-wool cookster ultimately still prefers a pot with a handle on it.