As we often say, a good cook could work with a campfire and a license plate and produce a good meal. Some people can scorch water…well, not really, but close to it.
I had a aunt who on three successive occasions allowed pots of beans to catch fire due to inattention. Her insurance company nearly cancelled her policy. Her breakfast biscuits were nearly as hard as dog biscuits. To my knowledge she never cooked or served a dessert. Probably that was for the best. The finest cookware in the world wouldn’t have helped in the least bit. Neither could she have cooked over a campfire with a license plate.
All that said, having good cookware can certainly make it easier in the kitchen. Higher quality ware will heat more evenly, be more balanced, may be easier to clean up, may provide an boost to the cook’s ego. Cooking good food is largely following directions using the correct tools. Recipes today are more explicit than they were 50 or 60 years ago. From 130 years ago, a Delmonico Restaurant’s cookbook in our library is nearly incomprehensible, both for the odd ingredients and the dense instructional method accompanying the recipes.
We think magazines such as Cook’s Illustrated is a great gift for a cook just starting out. The recipes are simple and they come with enough commentary any cook can turn out passable food from them.
So, good cooks find a combination of adequate cookware and good recipes a pretty foolproof combination.