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Rachael Ray and Ayesha Curry Talk Cookware

Consumer Reports logo Consumer Reports 11/10/2018 Kimberly Janeway
Rachael Ray et al. posing for the camera © Provided by Consumers Union of United States, Inc.

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Walk through the aisles of a housewares store such as Bed Bath & Beyond and you’ll practically trip over one celebrity-backed product after another. Stars from Marcus Samuelsson and Martha Stewart to Ayesha Curry and Rachael Ray lend their name to cookware, bakeware, and a kitchenful of goods.

Chefs selling their own products certainly isn’t new, and some household names endure: George Foreman still packs a punch with his indoor electric grills after 20-plus years, and Emeril Lagasse pots and pans remain in stock, with Emeril’s brand name outlasting his TV fame.  

Consumer Reports has tested cookware from Lagasse, Guy Fieri, Jamie Oliver, and Wolfgang Puck—to name-drop a few—over the past 15 years.

“Most were not stars in our tests,” says Cindy Fisher, who oversees the cookware lab. “But despite their celebrity status, they weren’t the most expensive of the group, either.”

The demand for celebrity cookware continues to grow, thanks to the proliferation of cooking shows and a rising interest in cooking at home, says Joe Derochowski, an industry analyst at the market research firm NPD Group. “On the other hand, consumers expect more,” he says.

“For a celebrity brand to be successful, it has to be functional, it has to deliver, and it has to also represent the consumer’s interests,” Derochowski says.

Our ratings of cookware sets and frying pans include products from Curry, Ray, and “The Pioneer Woman” Ree Drummond. We asked them about their cookware and how involved they were in bringing it to consumers’ kitchens. Drummond did not respond to our questions. Here’s what Curry and Ray had to say.

Rachael Ray

Ray is a Food Network star, host of a daytime show that bears her name, and author of more than two dozen cookbooks.

Are you involved in the design and functionality of your cookware? 

“I am absolutely, 100 percent involved in the design and functionality of anything that I put my name on,” Ray says. “There are no products that go out into the marketplace that I haven’t either conceived or been instrumental in developing, testing, and approving.”

She says that one example is her oval pasta pot. “It never made sense to me that pasta pots were only deep and narrow instead of long and oval, so that they could more easily fit pasta like spaghetti. So, I drew the design of that pot on the back of a napkin and worked with my husband to find a partner who could build it.”

Do you try it out at home before the cookware is in stores?

“Of course I use my cookware at home before and after it hits stores,” she says. “If you tune into my daytime show, most everything you see me cooking with is part of my brand.”

What should consumers know when choosing cookware?

“When we decided to offer sets, I would only agree to do it if we included pots that were big enough to be useful, and we figured out a way to include pots that are larger than most other sets out there, so you can use them every day,” she says. Another tip? “Look for cookware that can do double duty, like going from oven to table to save the extra time and cleanup of using serving pieces.”

Ayesha Curry

Curry is a restaurateur and author of “The Seasoned Life.” She hosted “Ayesha’s Home Kitchen” on the Food Network for two seasons, and she’s set to host ABC’s “Family Food Fight,” a culinary competition among families, later this year.

Are you involved in the design and functionality of your cookware?

“I was very hands-on during the entire process—every decision, from inspiring Pantone colors to creating the shape of the handles and lips on the pots,” she says. “It was very important that every piece feel and look the way that I wanted it to.”

Do you try it out at home before the cookware is in stores?

“Every piece was tested and used in my home before hitting stores.”

What should consumers know when choosing cookware?

“Try picking the essential pieces that fit your family’s needs,” she says. “I'm always using a Dutch oven, stock pot, sheet pan, and a large skillet. And you just can’t go wrong with buying a complete set to meet all of your needs.”

Consumer Reports is an independent, nonprofit organization that works side by side with consumers to create a fairer, safer, and healthier world. CR does not endorse products or services, and does not accept advertising. Copyright © 2018, Consumer Reports, Inc.

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