Open burner in black--BS, Viking or AR Performer

needinfo1December 10, 2012

I think I have finally narrowed my choices for a 30" down to three makers and models of open burner ranges. I don't want stainless, so that eliminates some brands. While I still may change my mind and go with some other color, I am thinking black might be the right choice to go with my 20s-30s vintage look that has white appliances (all on other walls than where the range will be).

My best buy is a Viking VGIC with open burners because they are having a promotion where I can get this range in SS, white or black for $3,300. A different color is an additional $600. This has 4 15K burners and good simmer on all burners. I've read about the quality and service problems Viking has had in the past but am willing to give them a try because dealers all tell me that things are improved AND they offer a three year warrantly.

Next in price is the American Range Performer at $3650 in a color (including black). It has two 22K burners, one 18K and one 12K. It is my understanding that it also has a good simmer.

Or, I can get a Bluestar in a color for $4,400. It has 2 22K burners, 1 15K burner and a simmer burner.

I really don't know if I need the BTU power offered by either the BS or the AR. But, maybe I would like it. Never having had the extra oomph perhaps I don't know what I am missing. BOTOH, I've also read here that 15K really is sufficient for most people unless they truly are into lots of heavy duty wok cooking.

The ability to simmer is important to me, and the Viking has good simmer capabilities on all 4 burners. As I understand it, there really is only 1 simmer option on the BS. And, I am a bit confused about the Performer but think it has good simmer on all burners.

I don't know whether it is better to have all burners the same shape and size so I can use any of them or if it is better to have have the variety so I need to decide which to use.

Clean up of the rangetop is also a concern of mine, and while all of these completely disassemble, they all have different surfaces with the Performer being stainless steel, the Viking black porcelain, and the BS primarily cast iron.

I live in a place where there are great weather extremes from very cold (where I'd like the extra warmth a stove puts out) to very hot (where I do not want to add any more residual hear to the kitchen than necessary). So, I also want to know if one of these will heat up the kitchen more than others because of a poorly sealed and insulated oven or burner grates that take a really long time to cool down so they will be emanating heat.

Complaints or concerns I have read about: The Viking--quality and customer service. Bluestar--hot door, fire ball broiler lighting, and some customer service. American Range--not a lot of info out there.

So, I've got a price range of around $1,000. I am not buying solely based on price but obviously would prefer to spend less if I would be just as happy with the product.

Thoughts? Thanks.

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One is not like the others.

Viking.It is a semi-open burner. It is not a commericial type true open burner.

AR Performer Series power bunrers are 25k btu.

Nobody "needs" anything more than a $1k basic/standard range.It will turn raw food into cooked food.

Then there are foodies among us where perfect caramelization is a must. Where accurate and even temps are a must and moving quickly between temperatures is a must.

IF you saute,sear OR wok you can really use those 22k-25K btu power burners.It is not just for Chinese cooking.Fried chicken? If you put cold chicken into 350 degree oil this drops the temperature of the cooking oil.This allows oil to soak into chicken instead of crisping the exterior. With 22k-25K btu burners it allows you to raise the heat to the pot and quickly raise the temp back up to ~350. So you can deep fry not paraboil your chicken. Boiling water for pasta,fajitas,etc etc etc. Many many advantages to those 22k-25k btu open burners.

Simmering. How much power you want spread over what distance depends on what you are simmering,how much you are simmering and in what size pot. If you are simmering chili in a half full 40 quart stock pot that 25 btu burner simmers just fine. If you want to simmer Creme Anglaise in a half full 2 quart pot then a dedicated simmer burner or double boiler would be best.

My ranking for 30" Black Open burner ranges

1) Capital Culinarian
2) Bluestar RNB
3) AR Performer Series

A majority of owners are happy with all three although feeback on AR PS is only a handful of owners.But if BS is really pushing the budget to the max get the AR PS instead of BS or CC.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 3:00PM
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deeageaux--Thanks much for the detailed and thorough response. Actually, after posting (and before getting your reply) I went back to the store and took another look at the Viking and saw for myself that is is referred to as an open burner only becasue the drip trays come apart; the burners themselves have the caps more like a closed burner. So, that is kind of out of contention probably.

I've seen the Capital on the floor but haven't looked at it closely, and I did not know that there were any other options than stainless for the line. And, as I recall it costs quite a bit more than the other two brands. While I could spend more, I just don't know if I want to.

One of the issues for me truly is that I've cooked for all of these years (and pretty decently too I believe) on what would today be considered a very underpowered gas open burner range. I just don't know from personal experience what truly powerful burners will do. And, as my husband was reminding me tonight, we have been several places in the world where we have had excellent meals that have been cooked by people squatting over open fires and making multiple dishes on a wood fire built on the floor.

Thanks again for taking the time to reply. I'm curious. How is it you are so familiar with all of these different models that you could quickly correct the errors I made when referring to the various models? You must work in the industry I am guessing. Maybe I am wrong.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 11:30PM
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You can fry chicken on a 8K burner. My grandmother made the best fried chicken on a smaller gas burner.

I have posted this link before about cooking myths but #2 relates to fat absorption.
The Food Lab's Top 6 Food Myths

It is based on this article.

The best way you can compare simmers is the same way you compare maximum heat. It is by knowing the BTU rating on the low end. Any other way incorporates additional variables that muddy the water. deeageaux makes the point very well comparing a large chile vat to a 2 qt sauce pan. Temperature ratings are irrelevant. It is the power(BTUs). There are some simmer burners that will not require a double boiler for delicate sauces. There are many different amounts of heat that manufacturers call "simmer". Know the number so you can make a meaningful comparison.

I used to work in a food lab and have cooked for many years on all kinds of ranges, gas and electric and there are work arounds for every situation. I would choose based on what you use the most. In my case I use the low end of burners all the time and when I need heat, I pull out the cast iron and my 15K BTU burners will produce a 500 degree surface with a little preheating. If you do a lot of large stir fries requiring high BTUs, and need simmer you can pull out a simmer mat or copper simmer plate.

One consideration with a gas oven is that in general they will put more heat into your kitchen due to the ventilation required for combustion of the gas. This is compounded if the oven is poorly insulated.

I would definitely look at how manufacturers treat their customers. Any appliance can have problems, but it is how you and your concerns are treated that make the difference.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 11:40AM
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I don't work in the industry.

I am a foodie,perfectionist and obsessive researcher.

I embarked on a kitchen remodel about 4 years ago and through researching appliances became an appliance geek.

I have cooked at regional distributors,stores,and homes of friends and family to test cooking appliances.

Knowledge is more important that cooking equipment.

But better tools means more precision. Combining knowledge with better tools equals better results in some cases.

Outdoor cooking with wood,charcoal,and/or other natural combustibles requires its own knowledge and requires no ventilation. You can also get cheap outdoor gas wok burners that don't need to be insulated against wood cabinets in an indoor kitchen. That is not appropiate for year round cooking in most American residences.

My mom made great meals on an old Kenmore range. Mostly "wet food" like soups and stews. You simply can't get a great restaurant quality med-rare steak with 10k btu burners. By the time you get a great crust the interior is overcooked.

Bottom line is if you want to cook indoors a standard range can provide you with great homestyle cooked meals. Some five star restaurant quality dishes require better equipment.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 4:56PM
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"You simply can't get a great restaurant quality med-rare steak with 10k btu burners. By the time you get a great crust the interior is overcooked. "

It is all about heat. You can accumulate it with the right pan or other object. It is about the temp of that surface and the amount of heat it will hold. My niece's boyfriend is the executive chef at a local high end steak house and you would be amazed at what he does with her mediocre gas stove. Knowledge is king.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 5:55PM
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I agree with all that you have to say about the knowledge piece. I thought I was a good cook, but I learned today while looking at the Bluestar that the secret to broiling a restaurant quality steak is to heat the broiler pan very high and then put the steak under the broiler without turning the meat becasue the combo of the heated pan and the broiler will take care of cooking it. But, does this piece of advice contradict the fascinating food myths link that discusses burgers?

Thanks again for all the help.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 7:55PM
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I have been reading some more things from appliance repairmen, and I am thinking the Viking is probably a bad idea.

Bluestar seems to have great build quality and features but I really don't know if their customer service issues and other reported problems have been resolved and how much heat the oven doors really have on the outside. I've had a dual fuel for 20 years and perhaps it is the nature of the beast that I have to accept hot oven doors if I go with all gas.

This post was edited by needinfo1 on Wed, Dec 12, 12 at 11:20

    Bookmark   December 12, 2012 at 9:54AM
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