To me, good cookware is a must have in any kitchen. My theory, and what I live by, is buy quality, take care of it and you will have it for a lifetime. People come into the store asking about cookware and what the essential pieces are. Hence, this column. In my over 30 years of cooking, the essential pieces to me are a 7 or 8 qt stock pot, a 3 qt or larger saute pan, a couple of different sized fry pans, and a small and large sauce pan. I would also throw in one or two nonstick pans, definitely one for sure. Buying good pans is an investment. If you can't do it all at once, do it like I did, purchase one at a time. I would rather cook in one really good pan than have five not so good pans. Take your time and find the cookware that is best for you. Ask questions and get feedback from friends. My kitchen has an assortment of different brands simply because each was the right pan for me. It could have been all about the grip, the handle, the weight, or the specific size. Enjoy!