Why do some people choose to spend more than $6000 on a kitchen range when they can get one for $600? It’s not just the array of sizes, colors, trims or the number of ovens, burners, and grills that are tempting, it’s their new features and reliability that attract serious, dedicated home cooks. They’re not looking for commercial stoves like those found in restaurants, but rather professional or luxury ranges that offer advanced technology that is as much about style and name recognition as performance.
These home cooks become annoyed when they can’t get the heat source low enough to simmer a spaghetti sauce or when the water for the pasta takes too long to boil. They want dual-fuel sources to combine the best of both worlds — gas and electric — typically gas burners and an electric oven, or if they have two ovens, they want one to be gas and the other electric. Sealed burners for easy cleaning are important. Manufacturers have listened to these suggestions and have built them into their higher-end ranges.
Preparing gourmet foods at home has become easier thanks to food-themed television shows and instant recipe retrieval from the internet. “People are finding out that cooking at home is just as good as going out to a restaurant,” says Terry Cosco, service manager at Marsillio’s Television and Appliance in Fairfield. “They’re using their kitchens more.”
What should you look for when buying a new range? “Find a stove that fits the amount of cooking you do, the size of your cookware, and how much you entertain,” recommends Fred Albano, co-owner of Albano Appliance and Service in Pound Ridge, N.Y. “Buying a stove is no longer the providence of just the women,” he adds. “Men are getting into the decision making as well.”
Once you start looking at professional ranges, you’ll find similarities in their cooktops. Most have a grill or griddle and at least one power burner with an output of 18,000 BTU’s (the measure of heat given off), plus another burner low enough to melt chocolate. Induction cook tops are a popular trend. Their magnetic field heats more quickly and precisely and cleans with the swipe of a damp sponge.
Ovens may have steam settings to allow baked goods to proof (rise quickly) before baking. They all have convection ovens with several fans for even distribution of heat. Gas ovens aren’t all self-cleaning as the heat blast of 800 degrees F. may damage the electronics.
Appliance stores and consumers consult the Yale Appliance Buying Guide which breaks down the brands, updates information and trends, and offer links to articles and videos. They list the top six brands: Wolf with its distinctive red knobs and nameplates, Thermador with radiant heat, induction and gas cooktops, colorful La Cornue, the French custom line with over 800 combinations of sizes, colors, trims and cooktop elements, Miele with its highly technical electronics, trendy and attractive German Gaggenau, and the professional and custom Viking series.
“In Fairfield County, Wolf continues to be the most popular,” observes Elio Vetrini, owner of County TV and Appliances in Stamford, “but we carry all major professional luxury brands.”
Tony Aitoro, co-owner of Aitoro Appliances in Norwalk, agrees, saying, “Wolf stoves are functional and easy to use.” He mentions their induction cooktops, the speed of boiling water, finger touch easy control panels, self-cleaning porcelain gas ovens, air blown convection ovens, and dual-fuel capabilities.
“If you’re interested in a Wolf stove, come here first,” says Heather Beland, marketing manager for Clarke Showroom in South Norwalk. “You’ll find design inspiration in our full size showroom kitchens, taste culinary perfection in demos and classes, and find Wolf experts to answer your questions. They’ll give you a list of local appliance stores who carry Wolf when you’re ready to make a purchase.”
Other professional stoves to consider are Jenn Air, Bertazzoni, Blue Star, Garland, G.E. Monogram, Verona, Caliber, American, and ILVE. It’s important to do your homework before visiting these stores as the choices of colors, trims, burners, and features can be overwhelming.
Although these stoves are designed with spacious kitchens in mind, smaller models are available. “You don’t have to have a four- or six-foot stove,” Albano says. “Wolf sells a thirty-inch range with professional perks and Blue Star offers a twenty-four-inch model which is perfect for small spaces and apartments.”
I overhear a conversation between a husband and wife during one of my visits to these appliance stores. They’re also studying the professional ranges. “We’ll be using our new stove for decades,” she says. “It’s not every year we remodel our kitchen.” He nods. “A luxury range is a good value for when we want to sell our house.”