A new status symbol for the kitchen is a commercial-style stove.
Many home cooks, who want to cook like their favorite restaurant chef, are renovating their kitchens to have a professional stove of shiny stainless steel or stainless and black epoxy.The commercial-style stoves, which vary in size from 36 inches to 60 inches wide, can start at about $2,000 and go as high as $10,000 and more.
Besides, kitchens must be designed to handle the weight of some of the stoves, and the stoves need to have venting through hoods, which cost extra.
We talked with several kitchen designers to find out how popular the stoves are and how they compare with conventional stoves.
Sleek styling of the stoves is definitely a consideration in the purchase, says Jack Moritzkat of Appliance City. And Larry Fendley, co-owner of Standard Kitchens with Steve Simpson, says, "For a really serious cook, yes," commercial stoves are the coming thing.
Fendley says each year when he goes to the National Kitchen and Bath Show in Chicago he sees more and more commercial stoves for homes.
And, he says, more and more of his customers want additional cooking surfaces and double ovens, though not necessarily all of them want commercial-style stoves.
Even the larger traditional residential-type stoves aren't all that inexpensive. Prices can vary from $250 to $500 for separate cooking elements (burners) and $600 to $2,000 for built-in double ovens, says Juda Russell, a manager of Appliance City.
Price of a "regular" free-standing stove, such as Maytag, may start at $399, says Mark Duncan, district marketing manager. Maytag makes both gas and electric stoves as well as cook tops and built-in ovens.
Patty Shelton, showroom consultant at Modern Supply, Bath and Kitchen Galleries, who also designs kitchens for customers, agrees more and more customers are becoming interested in the commercial-style ranges. "But you must have the right spot to put one," she says.
Modern Supply has a 48-inch Viking professional range on display.
"Flexibility is today's kitchen design," says Moritzkat. In discussing "regular ranges," he says gas stoves also are becoming more and more popular. Many customers request gas surface burners and electric convection ovens. Sixty to 65 percent of ovens being sold now are convection, he says.
Convection ovens, which cook 25 percent faster, have uniform air circulation so temperatures are decreased by 25 degrees, explains Ann Bone, co-owner with husband Charlie Bone of Friedmans Microwave Ovens.
A convection oven has three elements, top and bottom and a back element with fan in the middle of it to circulate the air. A "regular" or thermal oven has a top and bottom element and, as a general rule, the bottom element heats the air for baking and the hot air rises and eventually sinks. But in a convection oven air circulates to give uniformly cooked foods.
Thermal-Convection oven is a trademark of KitchenAid, St. Joseph, Mich. Thermador Convection Thermal is another popular brand. Dacor, Pasadena, Calif., manufactures a convection oven that has six rack positions. Complete meals can be baked at the same time. "Put fish on one rack, lemon meringue pie on another and the odors won't transfer," says Moritzkat.
General Electric, which has been manufacturing stoves "well over 40 years," is also into convection ovens, says Chip Keeling, manager of communications, Appliance Park, Louisille, Ky.
General Electric started with fans and small appliances before going into major appliances, including both gas and electric ranges. But he says GE has no plans for manufacturing commercial-style stoves for the home.
Keeling cooks on a convection oven at home. "It's unbelievable, I love it. The evenness of the cooking within the oven is the best thing I've seen."
New GE cooking tops have a spill-proof top that can hold up to a quart of liquid, he says, and some have 12-hour automatic shutoff so if you leave on vacation and forget to turn off the burner or stove, it shuts itself off.
Among other innovations in regular ranges are those with special surface burners, about 5,000 BTUs, to use when making sauces or melting chocolate or butter - they keep food at a low simmer setting.
FiveStar Division of Brown Stove Works, Cleveland, has a barbecue grill with ceramic briquettes.
Modern Maid, Caloric and Amana are subsidiaries of Raytheon Co., Lexington, Mass. Modern Maid has a slow-cook oven facility that can replace the slow cooker. "Only you don't have to cook it all in one pot," says Moritzkat. "You can put meat in one pot, vegetables in another. ... The entire oven can be a slow cooker with the push of a button."
Larry Fendley says people are still buying microwave ovens, but many want small ones to fit over a range. "They use the microwave for quick cooking, reheating or thawing out frozen foods."
Ann Bone says she definitely sees a trend for built-in microwave ovens and microwave-convection combinations.
Another term you'll hear is quartz halogen elements, which Amana says produce virtually instantaneous heat and light when turned on.
Some surface burners are ceramic and cooks need to use flat-bottom pots, not pots with a concave bottom surface. Lay a ruler across the bottom of the pot to be sure it is flat, Moritzkat suggests.