Good, better, best? Need options for oven stack

alermarMarch 5, 2014

While we go back to the drawing board on our kitchen design, I am looking at appliances. I will have one oven stack and perhaps a micro somewhere else (drawer or in pantry). Right now I have 2 traditional 17-year old wall ovens (not convection) and a microwave. I cook a lot and am hoping to entertain more (almost empty nesters). Our "new" house is in a beautiful, upscale neighborhood and it's considered a "knock down". We are doing substantial renovation to the interior/exterior but keeping outside walls intact. We intend on living in the house for the foreseeable future, so I'm not too concerned with what appliances are "expected" in our neighborhood. DH has balked at the Miele oven stack I'm considering (steam, convection, oven, warming drawer) and has asked for other options (he also thinks a warming drawer is silly). So . . . if you had 1 oven stack, what would be your good, better, and best choices in terms of functionality/quality/price. (we're doing an induction cooktop).

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I lusted after the Miele and loved the idea of the internal rotisserie but in the end couldn't justify the extra cost. We went with the Thermador 30" dual convection ovens and have been very happy for the seven or so years we have owned them. My VAH has duel heat lamps so between those and often having an oven free (there are warm and proof modes), we get by fine without a warming draw. We use the heck out of our ovens, and the large interior capacity of the Thermador 30s have turned out to be more critical than I originally imagined. I am often baking two 5+qt dutch oven no-kneed breads at a time (one rack) in one or both ovens, and run two large pizza stones at a time (two racks) per oven when we have other families over: Most of the ovens I longed for would not have been able to pull this off.

The Thermador comes with the interior probe and a bunch of smart cooking features. I think I used this once in seven years. Other than the two timers, the clock, the oven lights, and bake, broil, roast, warm, and proof with some combo of convection, all the clever modes and gizmos turned out to be a non factor for me.

As an FYI, we have a Bluestar 6 burner rangetop. I'm also a big fan of separating the cooktop from the ovens.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 1:57PM
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I keep hearing great things about steam combi ovens and so would probably do a conventional oven and combi steam oven. Per Yale Appliances, Miele has the lowest rate of repairs in the business (2.9%) so perhaps that would persuade DH they are worth it? Maybe you could find a floor model on discount? Thermador could also do a combi steam, conventional oven combo, so could Wolf but I'm not sure Wolf would be cheaper than Miele.

We are leaning toward a range with a gas oven and a warming cabinet with a separate 24" electric oven that will be a combi-steam, probably Miele. We aren't doing a total renovation of the kitchen so I get to splurge on the appliances.

Like stevep2005, I also don't imagine using much beyond what he mentions in terms of use except for the addition of steam. All the food specific options are just clutter in my mind. I never use them on my microwave. I won't use them on my oven.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2014 at 5:22PM
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Thank you both -- I find all the new options confusing. I've lived without them for 17 years etc etc. Now DH is suggesting a speed oven instead of a microwave. So that would mean 1 regular oven, 1 combi/steam oven, and 1 speed oven. I'm going to go to a Miele steam oven demonstration later this month. Should be interesting.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2014 at 6:05PM
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I'm going to a Miele combi steam oven demo next week! Should be interesting. I don't know that much about speed ovens but I've heard the combi steam oven cooks pretty fast because it's small and steam can help cook things faster so I'd just make sure a speed oven is worth it. Of course the third oven could be an awesome warming cupboard when needed if it has low temps.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2014 at 6:52PM
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Christy -- please post after your demo!

    Bookmark   March 11, 2014 at 10:52AM
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The demo was great. The people at the Miele were incredibly knowledgeable about their products, down to earth, and very informative. We ate/made all sorts of things.

The steamed salmon was far and away the best steamed salmon I've ever had from a 'home' kitchen. We always grill it on cedar plank because the times I've steamed it on the stove or in tin foil in the oven, it just hasn't turned out that well. Everything else was very simple but moist and delicious - quinoa, pasta, frozen vegetables, chocolate cake, bread pudding, omelet, etc.

They cooked frozen chicken tenders and defrosted, steamed and broiled them all in one cooking time. They said you can even do that with a whole chicken.

I think it's pretty cool that 99% of all their parts are made by Miele (not outsourced) and that all their products are made at one of three factories in Germany, which to me means they directly dictate all aspects of quality control of their product.

It also sounds like for the most part you can simply use any recipe you already have and just add a bit of steam. This is important since there are no steam oven cookbooks and one concern is not having a lot of information about how to use the tool when really cooking.

For us, I imagine using it to defrost some things, heat up some things, cook grains (steel cut oatmeal, quinoa, etc), make bread, and steam roast vegetables. We often cover root veg with tin foil to let them 'steam' before taking off the foil and then roasting them - we could do this directly in the steam oven without foil. I'd definitely experiment with it, e.g. steam and then roast chicken.

Part of our context is that we only have space for a second 24" oven so while my priority is a second oven since several 24" come with steam, I figure we might as well try it. We can still use it as a standard electric or convection oven without steam. My only wish was that the interface was less fussy, but I learned I can chose mode of cooking without having to designate a cooking time so that's good.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2014 at 11:20AM
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Thank you! I truly appreciate your detailed review -- it sounds like we cook fairly similarly. I've read elsewhere on this forum that there is some trial & error with some recipes and that some adjustments need to be made. I have a habit of trying new recipes for company (not a great idea), but with the steam oven, I think I'll be sure to do some practice runs for awhile until I get used to it. I'm fairly settled on getting the steam oven, and I just need to compare the Wolf and the Miele. My decision may also depend on what other appliances I'm getting and whether it makes sense to get a package deal.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2014 at 10:35AM
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Update: We ended up getting a Gaggenau combi-steam oven because it fit into our space better being side opening, we wanted a simple interface, and we got a full warranty new in box model (270/280 series) for less than the price of the Miele.

It's installed! We are on the upswing of learning how to use it, but it is F-A-S-T, at least compared to our old electric range oven. We had delicious steamed salmon and peas in 12 minutes last night and it was a bit overcooked, though still tasty. Anyway, just thought I'd let you know how this turned out for us.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2014 at 6:56AM
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Thank you so much Christy -- we purchased a floor model Gaggenau, but we're many months away from being able to install it. I'm pleased to hear that you like yours. I suppose it'll take some getting used to. I'm very glad to hear that you like yours -- I definitely have oven-envy :)

    Bookmark   October 1, 2014 at 6:35AM
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Alermar, congrats! The only part that was (a big) leap of faith was that we were putting it in an old dumb waiter than was 1/4-1/2 inch bigger than dimension the of the Gagg. It, fortunately, worked out perfectly.

Also, BTW, I can fit a 5qt Le Crueset pot in it with room for circulation. It's a lot deeper than I remember when I looked at it in person. I think we are going to be very happy with it in the long term.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2014 at 8:18AM
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