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Calphalon sucks. The anodized aluminum grey interior makes it difficult to determine the actual color of cream sauces; it also has a tendency to stick. I will give a nod to All-Clad LTD (on sale, of course). Huge stockpots should be the cheap stainless steel ones from the hardware store. It is worth having a couple of cast iron frypans; they are matchless for sauteing vegetables, meat, fish, eggs, potatoes, and hellaciously inexpensive and durable. In general, whatever is heavier is better.
Henckels and Wusthof are the Mercedes and BMW of knives. A knife is a certain amount of weight will do some of the work for you (i.e., gravity will help your meat cleaver hack through those pesky chicken leg joints). Whatever you choose, you want a drop-forged piece of steel with a full tang. You'll want a sharpening steel to maintain the sharp edge, but twice a year you'll want to take your knives to some old guy with a funny accent to have them sharpened on a grinding belt.