Magazine article Sunset

Big Stoves

Magazine article Sunset

Big Stoves

Article excerpt

A stove as big as a Buick was the mark of a fine kitchen until oven and cooktop separates became the norm. But as kitchen remodelers and cooking enthusiasts search for higher performance and, paradoxically, yearn for a return to the simpler, hornier kitchens they remember growing up with, big stoves are making a comeback.

What prompted this return to the self-contained cooker? About the time modular cooktops and wall ovens became the standard setup in many homes, serious home chefs started dragging restaurant stoves into their kitchens, both for the stoves' performance (large ovens and burners with high heat) and for their presumed high style. But true restaurant stoves were inherently ill suited for residential kitchens. Their uninsulated side-walls meant they had to sit well clear of combustible surfaces - like kitchen cabinets. Uninsulated doors resulted in nasty burns for anyone brushing against them. The lack of insulation also meant you had a giant space heater sitting in the middle of your kitchen.

Commercial manufacturers started responding to the residential market by insulating doors and sidewalls, making the units 24 inches deep so they fit flush with standard home cabinetry, and generally prettying up the commercial workhorses. Residential-commercial hybrids thus arrived, some with staggering price tags. Now manufacturers have introduced features that give residential users enough choices to make their heads - and culinary imaginations - spin.

RELATED ARTICLE: The big stove lineup

(Note: For a complete list of options, contact the manufacturer.)

AGA. 39- and 59-inch stoves. Patented in 1922. Gas; no controls, it's always on, always hot. Has a warming plate, simmering plate, and boiling plate, and a simmering oven, warming oven, baking oven, and roasting oven. No direct heat, only radiant surfaces. Available in many colors. $7,000 and $10,000.

DCS. 30- to 48-inch. Dual fuel, self-cleaning oven. Black or stainless. $1,800-$5,900.

Dynasty. 30- to 60-inch. 20,000-BTU wok burner, 24,000-BTU charbroiler, ceramic infrared broiler, huge ovens (31-inch-wide oven in 36-inch stove), windows and lights in oven doors. Black, white, or stainless. $2,500-$9,000.

FiveStar. 30- to 48-inch. Dual fuel, both electric and gas ovens in one unit. Black, white, stainless, or almond. $2,800-$5,400.

Jenn-Air and Blue Creek by Jenn-Air. 30-inch. Dual fuel, convection, self-cleaning oven, interchangeable grill/burner pair. Many colors. $2,000-$2,800.

La Cornue. 32- to 58-inch. Dual fuel with gas and electric ovens, gas burners, and electric simmer plates. Many colors. $11,000-$23,500.

Rosieres. 47-inch. Designed by internationally known chef Paul Bocuse. Dual fuel, continuous cleaning oven, 15,000-BTU hot plate on cooktop, convection option on oven. Black or white, brass trim. $3,800.

Russell. 30- and 36-inch. Dual fuel, steam injecting, bread proofing. Black, white, or stainless, brass trim. $3,900-$5,300.

Thermador. 30- to 48-inch. Dual fuel, convection, self-cleaning oven, 375- to 15,000-BTU sealed burners, and sealed cooktop. Stainless. $2,400-$7,500.

Viking. 30- to 60-inch. Dual fuel, convection, self-cleaning oven, infrared broiler, bread proofing, porcelainized grates and burner caps. Many colors. Brass trim optional. $2,200-$7,700.

Wolf. 30- to 60-inch. Dual fuel, 500- to 16,000-BTU sealed burners, porcelain oven interior, convection, infrared broiler. …

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