Calling all "high-end" stove heretics

hawksterNovember 4, 2013

We have just moved, and I have a stove dilemma. Over the past 15 years, I have owned two 36" Wolf AG ranges with the grill, in two different houses. I really enjoyed them, and will miss the grill especially (as well as the spacious oven). That's because I only have room for a 30" range in the new, smaller, house (dishwasher on one side, door on the other). At 30", the advantages of a "pro-style" range seem less obvious; everything out there is four burners and an oven. (Although I did discover that I could configure a Blue Star with a grill and two burners; that might be an option.) And, of course, brands like GE and LG are offering fancy ranges at half the price of Wolf, Viking, et al. So, do you think I would really be giving up that much by going with a more middle-of-the-road stove?

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GE Profile/TOL LG vs sealed burner pro-style ranges like Wolf and Viking.

You are not giving up much in real world functionality. Wolf has been known for great quality, top notch customer service, and fantastic ovens but recently there are some very vocal members complaining about the blue porcelain in the Wolf oven. Viking quality has been suspect for quite a while.

GE Profile/TOL LG vs open burner pro-style ranges like Bluestar RNB, Capital Culinarian and American Range Performer Series.

Yes, you are giving up quite a bit of functionality. The burners are much more powerful and delivery the heat much more evenly. In the BS and ARPS 30" range oven you can place a full size commercial baking sheet. In the CC 30" you can not place a full size commercial sheet but you can get self-clean oven, motorized rotisserie, and easy glide racks. The broilers also get quite a bit hotter.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2013 at 2:36PM
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I kind of like the idea of the Bluestar with two burners and a grill. Maybe not for everyone, but a very unique set up for someone who knows how they cook! I rarely use more than two burners at once, and could make that set up very productive!

    Bookmark   November 5, 2013 at 11:15PM
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The biggest thing I would miss would be the extra depth allowing you to use bigger pans on all the burners.

I have had trouble with all of my appliances, three brands so I am a little soured on the concept of high end appliances. No brand seems to be immune from stories of poor service and appliances that don't function well. The repairs/service can be hard to come by if you live in the wrong area or the company just won't pay attention to you. You may have to go through "their" service people and you will be at their mercy as far as what they want to charge-no getting bids on repairs. I cooked on an all electric Frigidaire range with a convection fan this summer and it worked pretty good.

I would never buy another high end range. I would buy a range top and separate oven. If the oven goes you are not replacing the whole thing.

The BS with a grill sounds like it would be a good option for you. You could always buy a couple of plug in induction hobs if you needed more burners occasionally. There was a lady on another forum that was moving into a small apartment and was considering buying all plug in induction hobs to have the counter top open.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2013 at 12:46AM
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"The biggest thing I would miss would be the extra depth allowing you to use bigger pans on all the burners."

Agreed. My favorite pans tend to be larger diameter ones, and I do enough entertaining that I find a real convenience in having the extra topside real estate of the "pro-style" ranges.

OTOH, there are less expensive choices in major brand ranges that might (or might not) suit you well. The GE Cafe all-gas and dual fuel models, for example. They look like slide-in ranges without the side-overhangs, and allow the same kind of pot spacing you get on "pro-style" ranges.

The current Cafe models have been available for a couple of years and the reviews here are pretty favorable. The current models do not have the design issues (like the oven venting onto the control knobs) that plagued some of the original versions from four years ago. The potential downside is that the back burners on the Cafe stoves are small. That may or may not pose difficulties depending on whether need them for higher-heat applications with large pots.

The GE Cafe stoves have large ovens that bake very evenly and have good convection features. (For example, you can run convection with the upper heating element for browning and convection roasting.) While you can't fit a full size sheet pan in the GE range's ovens (the ovens are not quite wide enough) but that is only a problem if you use full size commercial sheet pans. The largest pans that most of us home cooks use are the equivalent of a commercial half sheet pan.

Unlike the Wolf AG units you have been used to, there are a lot of oven features (Sabbath modes, probe and timer controlled roasting, etc.). The tradeoff is that the complex electronics that give you the features --- well, stove heat can eventually lead to circuit board failures and the boards are expensive to replace. Hard numbers are difficult to come by but, judging from the membership surveys in Consumer Reports, it seems that somewhere around 4 to 6% of GE ranges will fail in the first five years and most of those failures seem to be related to the electronic controller boards. Many people seem to be having no problem with running self-cleaning on ten year old GE ranges. OTOH, the controller board in my former GE Profile failed after 11 years, and, at that point, I was no longer interested in statistical probabilities.

The BS with a grill sounds like it would be a good option for you. You could always buy a couple of plug in induction hobs if you needed more burners occasionally.

Agreed, again, but there can be some practical limitations to using portable induction units in small kitchens. It depends on how small the kitchen is and how many electrical circuits it has. Portable induction units mostly tend to be 16 inches (or more) deep and 14 inches wide which consumes counter space at the same time that you are doing the kind of large-scale cooking that needs the most counter-space for prep. The electrical limitation is that the better portable induction burners are 1800-watt units which, like a microwave, pretty much max out a typical 120v circuit. So, to use two portable units, you need to run each on a separate circuit and have the circuits separate from the ones used by your fridge and MW. (You can use the MW circuit as long as you don't try to run the MW at the same time.) Same limitations apply, btw, when using electric griddles, electric frying pans and some slow-cookers (aka "Crock pots").

    Bookmark   November 6, 2013 at 2:23PM
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My Blue Star RNB304BVI was delivered two weeks ago, and I'm delighted. I'm glad I bit the bullet and went with a pro-style range again. Much nicer than the Wolf. Power to spare. And, I bought a nice little gas Weber grill for the patio, which I'm using regularly. Just had to shovel a path through the 20" of snow on the ground!

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 2:07PM
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    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 3:43PM
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If Costco US carried Blue Star it would be in my kitchen now, as I would of chosen it over my NXR.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 8:01PM
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hawkster, that is gorgeous, love it! ...Enjoy!

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 11:54PM
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See if you can find any way to try out the burners on whatever range you're considering. The burners on the GE profile or cafe are a big step down from what you're used to. It is one of those places where heat is not just heat. The burners will not get as hot and will not heat a pan as evenly as those you are giving up. You can cover over some of that difference if you have really heavy cookware.

As an example, there are assorted gismos to add grilling or griddle features. I'm not sure how well any of those two-burner ones would work on GE. There's a big difference in the sizes of the front and back burners - both in btu and in physical size. You might end up with an accidental teppan yaki, with a cliff edge instead of a smooth gradient.

If you've tried it, you might be able to tell if you like it or not. I always worry about people ending up resenting a lesser burner system.

The other everyday range you could consider is the GE induction slide-in. You'd have a cooler small kitchen and more usable power. Because it has an electric oven, perhaps the board life will be longer?

    Bookmark   February 17, 2014 at 7:46PM
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