Our Place’s Always Pan, a do-it-all skillet for small kitchens

The millennial kitchen aesthetic is all about smart, well-designed products that are ethically made and multi-use for tiny kitchens. No company embodies it quite as well as Our Place, the instantly Instagrammable startup that brought us the Always Pan, a self-claimed replacement for “8 traditional pieces of cookware.” The 10″ pan is deeper than your average fry pan (2.7″) and broad enough to boil unbroken spaghetti (2.6 qt capacity). Add design quirks like a peg and notch for the accompanying beechwood spatula, and removable, stainless steel nesting steamer basket, and the Always Pan is just showing off. With one non-stick Always Pan, Our Place’s do-it-all claims include a: “fry pan, sauté pan, steamer, skillet, saucier, saucepan, non-stick pan, spatula, and spoon rest.” And now, you can get the $145 pan for just $95, with the code “SUPERSALE” for Black Friday.

“There was a gap in kitchenware and cookware,” explains Our Place founder Shiza Shahid. “They’re selling a 16-piece cookware sets, but what’s the difference between a saucier and a sauce pan? A couple of inches? A little roundness? The cooking industry makes specific pots and pans in different sizes and calls them things derived from European cooking techniques. You end up with bulky, difficult-to-use, confusing sets that aren’t designed for the home cook.”

Stanford grad Shahid worked in consulting before co-founding the Malala Fund with activist and Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai. With Our Place, Shahid hopes to serve the “multi-ethnic kitchen,” creating products for homes like her own in Los Angeles, where she and her husband love to share Pakistani and Iranian food with friends, but don’t have tons of space. The Always Pan is Our Place’s “North Star,” an uncomplicated, modular, but beautiful design.

[Photo: Courtesy Our Place]

In my own small galley kitchen in Boston, I tested the Always Pan with my classic barometer: scrambled eggs with cheese. The pan is coated with non-stick, non-toxic ceramic that lends great slip to clingers like melted cheese. I also test-drove my own frequented kitchen headaches: sautéed vegetables cooked just a little bit too long and skin-on salmon in a sticky glaze, and both slid free from the pan with a nudge of a spatula. The pan also quickly washed clean, with a soft sponge and hot water, but it’s dishwasher safe as well.

The pan is made from cast aluminum and advertised as lightweight — but at 3 pounds, it’s still much heftier than most similar-sized iron skillets in my arsenal. However, the weight isn’t astronomical, and, in fact, feels satisfyingly grippy when held in one hand to give buttery pancakes an airborne flip. To measure the pan’s heat conduction, Shahid recommended I attempt a tried-and-true test by sprinkling a layer of flour to see if it browns evenly. My flour got toasty and beige after five minutes, and while the center browned slightly deeper, no section burned or remained white. The steamer basket works well, fits snuggly, and will be frequently used for one-pan meals and dumplings. Our Place also sells an additional set of Spruce Steamers that look like they’d make shumai and tamales a dream.

Oh, and it’s beautiful. Currently, the pan comes in dreamy shades like Spice (a pale terracotta) Sage (a muted green) and Blue Salt (a new for December color that resembles a dusty robin’s egg blue). My pan arrived with a few cosmetic blemishes — chipped paint and dings around the edges and handle. Our Place ships their pan in the box its housed in as to cut down on waste, but I do wonder if it’s given enough padding for something so precious. My gas burner also scorched and scratched the bottom, adding chipped paint spots, after only a few uses.  

Searing proteins and shallow frying were also was a challenge. I was able to easily remove my sticky salmon filet, but it never quite got as caramelized and crisp as it would have in a cast iron or stainless steel pan. Based on its advertising (and name), I fully thought the Always Pan was oven-safe. It’s not, which means my trusty 2-quart Dutch oven remains in its rightful place, perched on the top of my stove. Not being able to add cheese on top of a bubbling pan of tteokbokki and throw it under my broiler is a major drawback. And so go my hopes for endless one-pot pasta bakes out the window. 

Despite those flaws, I still like the Always Pan. And I like Our Place for their values, commitment to the environment, and plans for the future — Shahid hinted at new products down the line that hopefully are as clever as their first. There are several things the Always Pan can’t do, but they don’t quite cancel out the things it can. The recipes I can make in the Always Pan are the best kind of uncomplicated, and choosing it removes barriers like excess pots and the dreaded sink soak before I can have a clean kitchen again. 

Our Place is a year old and is challenging a multi-generational industry of kitchenwares and customs. It has plenty to work on and plenty of room to grow. However, in considering the needs of a multi-cultural household, Our Place and its Always Pan are headed in the right direction.

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Morrison funds new kitchens — slashes unemployment benefits

A huge number of Australians will be plunged into poverty overnight as others get to renovate their homes — courtesy of the Morrison Government. Tarric Brooker reports.

AS THE coronavirus economic crisis continues to unfold, millions of Australians face the prospect of joining the 1.6 million people already on Centrelink benefits when JobKeeper concludes in September.

To add insult to injury, the Morrison Government’s JobSeeker $550 per fortnight supplemental payment also concludes at the end of September. This will potentially leave millions of people far under the poverty line in an instant, during the worst economic crisis to hit our nation since the Great Depression.

Whether the Government is choosing this course of action due to a genuine belief that the economy will “snap back” to normal – despite warnings from the Reserve Bank and economists that it won’t – or simply due to the ideological priorities of the Coalition’s leadership, it doesn’t really matter, the end result is the same.

A huge number of Australians will be plunged into poverty overnight.

Want a home reno done? 

Meanwhile, the Morrison Government has confirmed it will be offering cash grants to homeowners to renovate their homes, in order to boost the construction sector.

However, builders seem to feel quite differently. In an interview on Monday with 3AW, president of the Builders Collective of Australia Phil Dwyer said he “can’t imagine why” the Government would introduce such a scheme.

Mr Dwyer told 3AW, the building sector is as busy as ever:

“At the moment I think it’s a little bit busier than usual! There’s a heap of renovations in every suburb in this town. I can’t imagine why we would need cash injections to help us. We’re just going to overheat the industry. I don’t think it’s needed.”

Mr Dwyer’s view is supported by the data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, which shows that spending on residential renovation work was within nine per cent of all-time record highs during the December quarter of 2019 (the latest available data).

Unfunded empathy and a relentless ideological agenda

It’s like our nation has transited to some sort of weird parallel universe, where helping over a million unemployed Australians get back on their feet is unfunded empathy, but handing out large amounts of money for homeowners to renovate their properties is “superior economic management”.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison likes to say that the best form of welfare is a jobbut the number of jobs on offer has collapsed and economists are warning of the economy and labour market heading “off a cliff” when JobKeeper and mortgage holidays conclude. Yet the Government continues to be hell-bent on pursuing its ideological agenda.

The world has changed; the Coalition hasn’t

The reality is, the world has changed and even nations such as South Korea – which were hit with the pandemic early and dealt with it extremely well – are now struggling. Economic forecasts around the globe continue to be downgraded and unemployment predictions revised upwards.

Even with the global economy in recession and despite the United States literally burning under the strain of current events, the Coalition continues to insist that somehow the economy will quickly “snap back” once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

As our nation heads into this dark and uncertain future, it’s concerning to think that the Morrison Government may continue to pursue its ideological agenda, regardless of the reality being experienced by everyday Australians.

So far, the proposals put forward by the Coalition Government to kickstart the economy have been variations on the its ideological greatest hits. Including some of their top favourites, such as industrial relations reform, cutting corporate taxes and subsidies for the fossil fuel industry.

Ultimately, it’s a worrying time to be an Australian, as a Government devoid of a grand vision of the future attempts to navigate the largest economic storm in almost a century, while simultaneously continuing to attempt to pursue its narrow ideological agenda.

How this all ends is anyone’s guess, but it seems likely that there will be homeowners who are going to get a subsidised kitchen renovation, courtesy of the Morrison Government, while needy Australians go without even the basics.

Tarric Brooker is a freelance journalist and political commentator. You can follow Tarric on Twitter @AvidCommentator.

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