Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Cookware >
Apr 19, 2007 07:41 PM

Ultimate Kitchen suggestions

i guess i am pretty fortunate because i am getting to build my kitchen exactly how i want to... but i need help. i am a veteran of a few fine dining (and some not so fine!) restaurants and former pastry chef, so performance and durability are critical. any cooktop with less than a 17,500 btu burner is unacceptable, yet reliable low simmer is needed too (i currently use my griddle to simmer, but i am going to say goodbye to my commercial range before i move to the new house). without being uppity i would like to say money is not the issue. i do entertain quite a bit, so scalability is important... 48" is probably what i need in the cooktop with a grill and griddle (or perhaps a double griddle, any thoughts?) what brand and models do i turn to, i've been using commercial ranges so long, i feel i am at the salesmen's mercy when it comes to residential appliances! same thing with ovens..., i am not a fan of warming drawers, i'd rather another oven. holidays and parties have all 3 of my ovens going (36" in my range plus dual convections on the wall). at the new house i'll have a catering kitchen downstairs at the dumbwaiter for extra capacity for events, but it is not like i would like to run up and down for a gathering of 12 to 20... so i really need two ovens if not three in the main... what about the gaggenau 36" and the 24" steam combi... not to mention the microwave which is entirely politically incorrect for me to display but yet needed on a daily basis to cook my morning oatmeal and pop the kids some corn!

seriously, i know i got the kind of problem to enjoy, but i am quite anxious to do this properly, how would you equip your ultimate kitchen???, and the wow factor is important too, but i think that follows naturally from the informed cooking decisions. oh, the new subzero fridge with the glass door is something i've waited for for years, other than loud commercial alternatives (one of which will be going in the catering kitchen), are there any competitors with that capacity, clear door, and freezer?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I'm building a house now too and in a similar type of situation to pick whatever we want. I'm getting a viking 48 inch dual fuel range with griddle. But I believe that the btu's on that are a little lower than what you want (I think they are 15,000). You may want to check out Wolf? However, I have an answer to your microwave "display" dilemma. We are getting the Viking microwave VMOS200SS that fits in the viking microwave "chamber" VMWC101SS, which fits into the wall like a wall oven and has a big stainless steel door that flips up. It is the same size as the warming drawer so it looks good on the wall above or below that. You could probably get something similar to match whatever wall ovens you pick. We're not getting a third oven for now (we have the two on the viking range) but I have my eye on one of those steam ovens eventually.

    As for the fridge, I would go with the sub zero that you picked. I haven't been able to find anything better. What dishwasher are you getting? We're getting a miele because we really like the cutlery tray on top (second choice was bosch, but we liked the setup of the miele better).

    1 Reply
    1. re: baloo

      thanks for the feedback. i am going with two sets of fisher paykel drawers, gives me convenient/efficient high loading and unloading on a daily basis as well as capacity for entertaining. i was originally going with a range to get more "confined" capacity, but because i believe the cook needs to face out into the room, i necessarily have the cooktop in an island. the cooktop lets me get open shelving underneath for pan/pot storage... and a bit more professional kitchen feel. that means i got to get all my baking done on the wall...i am reluctant to commit to just one 36" wall oven as has become "fashionable", it simply cannot give me the scalability i need, but will the addition of the 24" combi get me where i need to be? a double 31" with the combi and microwave set all together seems a bit overwhelming, but i cannot seem to figure any other way to have a true entertainment kitchen. then there is the 30" vs. 36" dilemma. i love my range's 36" when i need to keep things warm for big dinners, it allows me to do much more prep beforehand so i can enjoy company as well as concentrate on the saute or grill. ....maybe i am answering my own questions! it certainly helps to brainstorm.

    2. Dear fellow cook. Much like you, I am about to do my dream Kitchen remodel in our new home. I grew up in a kitchen (my dad owned 2 restaurants in SF) so I decided that money would be no issue for this dream kitchen - but dang it, I want this kitchen to perform! So my husband and I did some extensive research. Having drank the koolade on Viking, Wolf, Gaggenau, Dakor, Sub Zero, I started there...and was shocked to find how medicore most of that stuff is. The BTUs were not up to par, I didn't want warming drawers either, the Sub Zero didn't seem that special on the inside, so on and so on. I was not impressed.

      Anyway, after extensive research, I realized that if I was ready to shed the "brand name" showcasing and prepared for a little function over form, then there were many excellent, restaurant quality appliances that are available to home owners..."Pro-sumer" models if you will. And they're not necessarily cheaper, though with some aplliances, it's 10%-20% cheaper. And IMO, I don't think these appliances are ugly at all- I actually think they look, well, professional, and therefore, a little more sophisticated.

      My husband and I stumbled across these brands. We found a place that sold used restuarant appliances - I forget the name, but its on Venice, 1 block east of Western (on the north side of the street). It looked totally HUGE and jenky from the outside. The moment I walked in, I realized that I had discovered a SURFAS equivalent - tons of restaurant gear. Where Surfas is middle to high range and relatively pricey, this other place had low to high range, but even at the high range, stuff was 10-20% cheaper than Surfas. I was in heaven! When looking at the used restaurant kitchen ranges, the salesperson told me that this stuff was not approved for home use...however, there was a brand called IMPERIAL that made a "restaurant" stove for home use...(the insulation was different). I looked at their catalog, ans blown away. This was what I had been looking for. But my husband said, look, if this brand has a prosumer model, so should other brands.

      We found Blue-Star appliances. Their ranges are powerful, beautiful, and expensive. But this is TOP top of the line and the performance will blow you away.

      And below, I've attached an email that we sent to a salesman when asking about the stove we wanted (a Capital Range - 4 range, 12 inch grill, and 24 inch wok with 30K BTU - yeah, awesome right?)

      But I have a question FOR YOU. As a pastry chef, are you going to build your baking station on a 30 inch counter instead of a 36 inch counter? I have done extensive research and I guess 30 inch height is ideal for all the rolling, or kneading, etc. But considering I've never worked on a 30 inch counter height, will I miss something I've never had in the first place? I ask this question because we are debating if we want to commit to this, interupting the height of some portion of the counter, etc. We're definitely going to do marble, but what do you think abotu the height?

      Look forward to your's that email:

      From: Dick Bergstrom []
      Sent: Thursday, April 05, 2007 2:31 PM
      Subject: RE: GRT604GW . 60" Gas Range-Top w/ Four Power-FloT Burners + Flex-RollT + Power-WokT

      Your best price will be at Friedman's Appliance Center in Long Beach
      Tel: 562 285 1130 or 562 598 7756

      There is no warranty service on units purchased on the internet out side of California.



      11 Replies
      1. re: Lynndsey Rigberg

        IMHO you guys are all missing the most important thing in a home kitchen: ventilation. You need a legitimate hood, an (external) fan, and an outside source of incremental air (or you risk blowing out things like hot water tank and furnace pilot lights). You must design your kitchen so the hood is on an outside wall (a vent loses about a third of its efficiency every time it turns a corner). The greatest appliances in the world will stink up your house forever if you don't give careful thought NOW to how you're going to properly ventilate your kitchen. And I can promise you that you will not find a single appliance salesguy that will know anything about it; he'll sell you whatever is a cosmetic match for the range you've chosen and you'll end up with major-league disappointment. And you don't require fire suppression but it would not be the dumbest thing in the world to give some thought to where you might attach a couple of fire extinguishers.
        Best wishes to you all.

        1. re: chip

          Since you know alot about ventilation, I have a question for you. Part of why I'm getting a range instead of a cooktop is because the cooktop would have been on the island and I did not want a downdraft fan and we thought the chimney island fan would look strange the way it's set up in the kitchen. So we moved it against the wall and chose the range, so that I could have a powerful fan. I am planning on the Viking fan hood that has the 1200 cfm blower. Do you think this is enough blower, or should we switch to a higher rated one? It's on an inside wall, but it's pretty close to the outside wall (if that makes any sense) so it shouldn't have more than one turn and it wouldn't have more than a few feet to go after that before it would reach the outside.

          1. re: baloo

            There is nothing special about the VIking fans/hoods. For the same money you can have a much better ventilator installed in a custom hood -- a bit more work upfront in getting proper contractors, but in the end a far better solution.

            I take it that your catering business turns a profit, is there going to be any probably with zoning / licensing? I ran into some issues with a former client that ran his catering business out of his home, or rather tried to, and then got shut down for a non-permitted use...

            1. re: renov8r

              you are correct that there could/would be licensing issues with a "home" based catering business, but that is not my situation. i just need the scalability for my personal events.

              1. re: renov8r

                Please say what type of ventilator you are talking about that can go in a custom hood. I am buying a 48" Blue Star and think I will need a decent vent but don't want to spend a fortune. Thanks.

                1. re: tigerz007

                  My advice about hoods for commercial style ranges is to track down the folks in your area that build the hoods for the local mom & pop fast food places. They typically will use a commercial blower and pre-fabricated grease filters with custom shaped stainless hood and ductwork. WIth a 48" Blue Star you are going to be a capable of generating a HUGE amount of heat/smoke so it makes sense to spend the money on the commercial blower and custom hood. In bigger cities you should have several shops to choose from. Look at the hoods next time you are at a local owner burger joint...

              2. re: baloo

                1200 CFM is, to be harsh, peanuts. And if one uses the rule of thumb that suggests one loses 30% of efficiency every time one moves air around a corner, it sounds as if you'll be down to 800 immediately. My advice would be to get an external blower and have a ventilation guy help you plan your exhaust. I've never understood why people spend $5000 on a sub-zero fridge, which to be fair doesn't really do a 'better' job refrigerating than an $800 Maytag, but will only spend $800 on an exhaust. You will NEVER regret doing a great job on your ventilation, and you WILL regret doing a second-rate job as soon as you make your first french fries.

                1. re: baloo

                  Everything depends on your personal style, but I wouldn't go back to a stove for anything. I love my island cooktop because it allows me to be part of things instead of standing facing a wall while everything goes on behind my back. There are some extremely attractive commecial vent hood that are incredibly powerful. Or you can always get a very sleek one (there's one that is simply a round SS tube that descends from the ceiling) and then have a custom pan rack built to go around it. Lots of possibilities.

                  I'm still in the process of remodeling my kitchen. Still have to do countertops and decide what to do about the cabinets. I will be replacing my current glass cooktop with an induction cooktop. It's the most economical kitche fule for cooking, and it's extremely fast and responsive... And produces very high heat. Mine will have NO handles that stick up! The current cooktop does, and it prevents me from using the full island as coutertop when I'm not cooking. Ceramic glass cooktops are great for rolling out pastry dough when they're sleeping.

                  For ovens, I shopped ever brand in the world that I could find on the web. And finally chose General Electric! Two seperate ovens mounted in the wall to look like a double oven. The top on is the Advantium (220V model) that is super fast and cooks by microwave or halogen light or a combination of the two. It browns, it bakes, it does everything but turn the food over by itself when I'm defrosting! My other oven is the TriVection. My first Thanksgiving with it, I cooked a 22 1/2 pound stuffed turkey in two hours and twelve minutes, and it was the juiciest turkey I have ever had, bar none. The TriVection will function as a straight thermal oven, or as a convection oven, or in the "Speed Cook" mode, it cooks with thermal, convection, and microwave. That's the method I used for the turkey. But the Trivection cannot be used as a microwave exclusively. Anyway, they are both fantastic ovens. Eveything I hoped for and more.

                  For refrigerators, you're on your own. I goofed and bought a counter deptth SS side by side by Maytag. Bad move! Ver poorly designed interior, and the fan that circulates cold broke after 14 months and cost me a freezer and refrigerator full of food! The fan was so poorly designed Maytag contracted another company to make the replacement for them and adapters to house it. If anyone sees a Maytag repairman, hit him over the head for me.

                  Something I thought of doing for refrigeration but haven't yet is to do all under-the-counter refrigerators and freezers. I just haven't yet convinced myself I can give up that much cabinet space. But maybe just thinking about the counter space I'd gain will help.

                  I'm glad I didn't rush into trying to do everything in the kitchen at one time. No matter how much you think you've thought things out ahead of time, living with the reality of your well thought out plans is often an eye opener. This way gives me time to work out the kinks as I go.

                  Good luck with your new kitchen!-

                  1. re: baloo

                    I am not into commercial grade stuff, but my 6 burner jenn air is not in our island; it is on an outside wall and we have a mother of an overhead vent hood, which is more than what we needed.

                  2. re: chip

                    Chip, you are on top of it! Got my CFM's where I need them, and I ALWAYS keep an extinguisher in the kitchen!

                  3. re: Lynndsey Rigberg

                    Counter height is critical in a high volume kitchen and a lower table top does make it easier to work some dough. I am 6'4" so I was always okay with 34" prep tables while persons of average height would wilt away. I think the same thing goes for the cooktop...saute pans can fly at 33-34" versus traditional 36" and especially the latest craze of putting them at 37 or more... it is just wrong. On the other hand, for chopping and other prep I use 39.5" counter height with a vegetable sink...a bit high for some of my vertically challenged friends, but good for me and a great gathering spot for friends wanting to perch up on a stool and lend a hand. I don't know if you make your own stocks, but the lower cooktop height helps TREMENDOUSLY for working with large pots. Hope I was some help. Oh! so with the need to Knead question... I think you should really measure how often you will be Kneading it versus the other uses that space can serve. One option is to use the lower cabinet for a mixer garage that swings out and up, proud of the cabinet, and let the 30-32" wide base cabinet (then stores the mixer and bowls or sheet pans) have a stepped down top, not a lot of space to work some dough, but nice enough, and a good size for laying out phyllo... just a thought!

                  4. Compared to some of the other responses so far, I suppose I am a rank amateur, but recently I have really wanted a small clothes washer/dryer in my kitchen for kitchen towels and cloths. Or if not in my kitchen, at least separate from my *clothes* clothes washer. Just something to think about.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: marzeth

                      dishtowel washer drawer...! you may be on to something!

                      1. re: marzeth

                        A kitchen washer/dryer is on my dream kitchen list. I want one of those small combo models friends have in Europe that fit under-counter. Hoping to put it into a walk-in pantry for cookware, serving pieces, linens and drygoods storage. I use linen kitchen towels, cloth napkins, tablecloths, and have a good amount of kitchen laundry so it would be a terrific thing to have.

                      2. Don't forget outdoor grillling. You will need a nice dual fuel Kalamazoo grill. A bargain at $12,000.

                        1. I think the best purchase we ever made was our double Gaggenau convection wall ovens. They are fantastic. We went with a Heartland rangetop because of the super low simmer setting on all the burners (450BTU) -- this ended up being more important to us than a super high BTU rating (all burners go to 15,500). I have heard they are made with the same parts as the Wolf, and they do look very similar (the dual ring).

                          Good luck!