Is French copper cookware worth the big bucks? Chefs defend Vice President Kamala Harris’s purchase

Call it a tempest in a stewpot.

Vice President Kamala Harris is making headlines for her purchase of what some consider pricey cookware while on a recent trip to France. Specifically, Harris shopped at E. Dehillerin, a legendary culinary emporium that has a history going back to 1820.

“I just want to buy a pot,” she told reporters during the Nov. 13 visit, a portion of which was shown on C-Span. In a response to a question, Harris added that she was shopping with her Thanksgiving cooking in mind.

A report posted Tuesday on the Washington Free Beacon, a conservative website, said Harris’s purchases totaled 516 Euros (about $600) and included a copper dish and copper frying pan.

The visit has led to suggestions that Harris is disconnected from the struggles of everyday Americans. The Washington Free Beacon noted: “The vice-presidential shopping spree came as Americans stateside suffer from the worst inflation in three decades, putting strain on both consumers and small businesses.”

‘I just want to buy a pot.’

— Vice President Kamala Harris during a visit to a Parisian cookware shop

There has also been a bit of confusion about Harris’ visit, with some on social media mistakenly thinking the vice president purchased cookware made by Le Creuset, a French brand, also on the pricey side. It’s known especially for enameled cast-iron pots and pans regularly also sold in the U.S. and elsewhere.

‘Buy as expensive a pot as you can afford because it really does make a difference.’

— Veteran New York City chef John DeLucie

In either case, professional and amateur chefs alike rushed to Harris’s defense, saying that when it comes to cookware, it pays to go high-end. They said that better tools in the kitchen equate to better results. Plus, the cookware will likely last much longer and could thus be a money-saver in the long run.

“Buy as expensive a pot as you can afford because it really does make a difference,” said John DeLucie, a veteran New York City chef who’s behind Ainslie, a restaurant in Brooklyn.

Aly Walansky, a Brooklyn-based food journalist, voiced support for Le Creuset in particular. “I have these pieces for several years now, and they have held up to all sorts of abuse,” she said of her Le Creuset Dutch oven, skillet and sauce pan.

Harris’s choice of cookware made from copper also speaks to a certain culinary savvy, said Alex Tubero, executive chef at Amali, another New York City restaurant. He notes that while copper items require a degree of care and maintenance, they conduct heat very well, which translates into success in the kitchen.

Tubero added that cooks often look to France for kitchenware because of its rich culinary tradition — “There’s definitely the nostalgia,” he said — but he did note that American brands often deliver the same high-quality results.

A representative of E. Dehillerin couldn’t be reached for immediate comment. Le Creuset spokesman Nate Collier emphasized his brand’s durability and also noted its products come with a lifetime warranty.

Harris is known to be an enthusiastic cook and once even did a video, with actress Mindy Kaling, showcasing her skills preparing Indian food.

Many on social media voiced support for Harris’s cookware purchase, saying it showed a degree of practicality because of the French reputation for quality, regardless of price. Even those who seemingly disagree with the vice president’s politics didn’t necessarily balk at her shopping trip. As one observer noted, “There are many other reasons to dislike Harris. This ain’t one.”

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