When you have a dormant aluminum factory in Chile and you don't know what to do with it, you could be lucky enough to have Consolidated Imports discover you. What Consolidated has done is convert an old-line Chilean aluminum factory to making copper pots, heavy copper pots with brass handles, copied precisely from French imports of the medium to high quality level. the French versions, as any cook knows, are very expensive, with a small asute pan running about $34, a large one pushing towards $100. These Chilean versions run 30 to 45 per cent less, ranging from a seven-inch saute pan for $18 to a twelve-inch version with a lid for $54. So far, the factory is producing saucepans with lids ($25 to $40), casseroles with lies ($33 to $36), tea kettles ($32 to $42), and saute pans. There are hopes for beating bowls in the near future. The tin linings are applied by a new Chilean technique known as hot-press, which is noticeably smoother than typical tin linings; the company claims the linings can last for years and years, but we'll need a long time to test that claim.

Consolidated Imports, 5127 Lee Highway, Arlington. Open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p!m. 536-6803.