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Apr 27, 2011 11:26 AM

30" Wolf vs Viking Vs. Capital Culinarian

Hi. I have 2 days to make the following decisions (due to great rebates available)

1) Wolf 304 ($4000 Canadian plus tax) or the Viking VGCC530-4BSS ($3500 Canadian plus tax or the Culinarian ($4500 Canadian)?

2) Dual Fuel of All-Gas? I will be keeping my current Jenn-Air Electric stove in the basement so I will have an electric oven which is why I am thinking to go All Gas for the oven. Increase in cost for dual fuel is around $1000.

3) Open or Sealed Burners? I'm leaning towards open burners based on cooking patterns and they don't seem too difficult to clean

Concerns: I want the ability to simmer on at least one burner in a small pot and don't want a difficult stove to clean (stove-top or oven). Thinking a self-cleaning oven would be ebst suited for me.

I was offered a Dual Fuel Electrolux Icon range for around $2100 Canadian but I haven't heard much about it and am guessing it is a far inferior range to the two mentioned above.


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  1. If you are looking for the ability to simmer, the Capital Culinarian offers great versatility. You can boil or simmer on any burner - no limitations!

    Here's a video on cleaning the Culinarian, you might find it helpful:

    Good luck with your purchase decision!

    1 Reply
    1. re: camelgirl

      Thanks. I've read about every post on here dealing with these ranges and still can't make up my mind. I'm leaning towards Capital or Wolf at this point.

    2. The original comment has been removed
      1. Don't you think you need to wait and do more research? Everybody has regular sales. Have you looked into induction? That will REALLY muddy the water for you :)

        4 Replies
        1. re: c oliver

          I've been doing research for weeks and am just having trouble pulling the trigger ;)

          1. re: hershy79

            Did your research include and then eliminate induction? I've use it for over a year and would never go "down" to gas.

            1. re: c oliver

              I haven't really considered induction to be honest. I currently have a Jenn-Air electric flat top and hate how easily it scratches (though it is very easy to clean). I understand induction is much better than the electric flat tops but I've been so turned off on them that I want something different. I've always loved gas cooking.

              1. re: hershy79

                To each his or her own. And feelings run high on the subject. But were I making as expensive a purchase as you, I would 'test drive' induction. That ease of cleaning is matched (more than matched!) by a sensitivity far greater than gas.

        2. Here's something to think about that nobody really brought up in all the discussions I read when researching my stove (went with a 36" Wolf dual fuel) - the make-up air for the ventilation hood. We put a 900 CF/M exhaust hood over our stove, and then spent nearly as much on the make-up ventilation as we did on the stove itself. It's entirely possible that the research I did was just bad, but nothing I read talked about how much construction would need to be done to an average house to put in the kind of ventilation system that would be required for the hood that you have to put in over one of these stoves.

          I know that there's always the wink-wink-nudge-nudge type of contracting work that you can get done, with no inspections or permits, but if you're going to get things done the right way, make sure you talk to a reputable contractor who has real experience with ventilation systems *before* you get into this, lest you end up footing much more of a bill than you anticipated!

          7 Replies
          1. re: pramjockey

            I have a Jenn-Air hood above the stove that is more than adequate for a gas range according to the specs. That part of it I considered.

            Thanks though as I'm sure it is overlooked quite often

            1. re: hershy79

              Oh, it's not the hood that's the problem. It's making up the air that's being pushed out *by* the hood. But, if the existing hood is sufficient, then hopefully what was built around it before is sufficient. The problem we ran into is that we went from a crappy recirculator to a full exhaust, and all that exhaust air has to come from somewhere. The path of least resistance, unfortunately, are the flues from the water heater and furnace, so that's where the air gets drawn in if you don't have sufficient cold-air (exterior) ventilation to make up the difference. But, it sounds like you should be OK there.

              As far as sealed vs. open burners: people say that you need the open burners to get even heat distribution, but I haven't found that to be particularly true - the caps on my Wolf are heavy iron, so they heat up and distribute heat, and your pans should also be distributing heat, so there shouldn't be any issue there, either way.

              Dual fuel vs. all gas? Have to vote for dual fuel. The control is better, the convection systems work better, and the moisture levels are lower, allowing for better searing. You can always raise moisture levels in your oven if you want, but it's darn hard to dry out your oven when you need it dry (burning gas produces steam).

              Don't know anything about Culinarian. All the research I saw on Viking vs. Wolf said Wolf. I'm *extremely* happy with my range so far, but it has taken some getting used to - those burners put out a lot more heat than I've ever dealt with before. But the level of control, and the sturdiness of the stove? Worth every penny.

              1. re: pramjockey

                If you are concerned about even heat distribution when considering open burners, you are wise. Why don't I let this video do the talking as it compares the heat distribution of 3 ranges:

                1. re: camelgirl

                  But who cooks with pie plates? Anyone who's investing several thousand dollars into a range would hopefully understand the need for decent pans that distribute heat.

                  1. re: pramjockey

                    Actually, they are frying pans in this video, not pie plates and very high quality commercial ones.

                    Trevor of Eurostoves works on multiple ranges in a commercial kitchen (which takes up half of his store) and produces helpful videos (like the one shared above) to help educate customers. They offer over 300 culinary classes per year with many different chefs and customers coming through their doors so really know what they are talking about. I hope you found this helpful.

                    1. re: camelgirl

                      Sorry, at first viewing I didn't see the handles.

                      "very high quality?" I dunno, I guess quality is in the eye of the beholder. They look like, at best, the thin cheap aluminum ones that every commercial kitchen uses.

                      But, in any case, the difference seen in the video would have minimal, if any real impact on cooking.

                      And, of course, it's an advertisement for one particular brand, and so should be taken with a grain of salt or three.

                      1. re: pramjockey

                        It's been great discussing this with you pramjockey. Good luck making your choice hershy79! You've got lots to consider. : )

          2. Since your time is up I assume that you have already made your decision.
            I just finished a kitchen remodel last month. I decided on the Wolf R304nd have been very happy with it.
            Duel fuel is a real plus if you are an avid baker. The convection was enough for me and works great. Have not used the broiler yet but it throws a whole lot'a heat.
            Open burners for the higher BTU and they are not hard to clean at all.
            The simmer works fine on all burners.
            Stove is easily disassembled for clean up.
            So far I am really pleased with my choice (could you tell?)

            23 Replies
            1. re: chefj

              I think I've decided on the Culinarian actually. It was a tough choice but since I am keeping my current stove in the basement, I'll have an electric oven that is a nice size available to me still.

              I liked the open burner with very high BTU option afforded by the Culnarian vs the Wolf.

              1. re: hershy79

                I liked Trevor's presentation. Got a Culi 48 incher from him. It's a NIICE STOVE. I've been cooking since 1962, mostly having to live with "Betty Crocker" grade electric coil and "safe" gas, so supplementing with inexpensive Camp Chef 30k btu outdoor stove for getting a wok hot )red-blowing bottom) for stir-fry.

                American makes a really good 1500-1800F gas broiler. Culi doesn't do that either on the top "BBQ grill" or broiler.

                The Culi doesn't have the Capital Precision option of a 30k btu wok burner. It would be nice. Also they started, in prototype, with 8k and 15k low-heat burners, then went with all 23k burners. For superlow heat, you have to double-stack the burner grates, or use another mechanism to diffuse heat. Not that hard.

                For ovens, Culi's large oven is good. We decided to also install Wolfs, which can do really low temp convection. (We had to wait to become empty nesters to afford this stuff, we're 58 yo's.)

                If you are in a remodel situation, you might like American commercial, with 35k burners, and one of their hot lava-rock grilsl, and convection ovens. And a 150k jet burner from another source, and a wood-fired oven.

                1. re: MarkKS

                  Sadly, I ordered a Culinarian, was promised by the distributor (to my contact) that it'd be delivered in a week. 2 weeks later the distributor said he has NO IDEA when it'll be available in Ontario for a delivery. Therefore, I have cancelled my order and have now missed the rebate for Wolf. I'm not a happy man

                  1. re: hershy79

                    I really like Culinarian. I saw Trevor's Youtube demos, read spend-the-day-cooking visitors' comments, so I ordered (pre-preduction) a Culi from him.

                    Do over, I would consider a commercial range, restaurant broiler, e.g. American Range. We had the opportunity to build a restaurant fire-code kitchen. I dropped the ball on this. If I get another chance, I think I will go for it. Culi is good for home-code. Top grill not even close to charcoal grill/ restaurant broiler heat. The big oven is nice. It goes to pretty close to independent thermometers register. I mostly go to Wolf L electric though, lower oven. mostly to protect the electronics from heat. It's good. Culi gas oven is very good.

                    Full commercial stuff, that's what I would go with, on a complete kitchen re-build, next time, if I live so long. Which isn't likely. :(

                    Culi played with multi-BTU burners, decided to go with all 23k. You have to use heat-diffusers for really low temps. Easy to do. For high BTU wok stir frying you need a different stove. 30k btu Camp Chef stoves are good, decent prices. Or for really hot, 100k+ jet burners can be found inexpensive.

                    Unless you have a restaurant-grade hood/bower fan system, do the smokin hot cooking outdoors.

                    1. re: MarkKS

                      You touch on a good point. Without major retrofitting and reconstruction, you can't just stick restaurant equipment in your home due to fire danger.

                      1. re: c oliver

                        I also believe that Insurance companies get quite rattled when you want to put in a industrial range (they wont insure you for fire).

                        1. re: chefj

                          I talked to our insurance agent about this (at State Farm), and he claims that they don't care, even if the kitchen is *not* built to restaurant code. Now, sales people will tell you anything, but he said there was no chance that they would not pay damages, even if we put in commercial equipment and our house burned down (though he did allow that they might not renew our coverage).

                          In our area, there is no inspection either (either by the city or by the insurance company).

                          All that said, we still did decide to go with a range rated for residential use (Capital Culinarian) rather than commercial restaurant gear, though of course a commercial range does give you more power for less money. Maybe will consider putting in an indoor commercial wok range if / when we remodel.

                          1. re: will47

                            I believe you but I'm very, very surprised by that. I'm also surprised that a kitchen remodel doesn't require a building permit. I'm guessing you're not in CA :) Replacing a deck here requires a permit.

                            1. re: c oliver

                              Actually, I'm in California (Southern).

                              Remodeling a kitchen does require a permit. However, my understanding is that they don't send someone official to *inspect* at any point. And in either event, we wouldn't have been remodeling, just putting in a new stove.

                              1. re: will47

                                Gotcha. Thanks for clarifying. When we did our whole house remodel five years ago, we got inspected every step of the way. But Lake Tahoe/Placer County is rather a stickler for such things. Especially if it has any fire danger.

                                1. re: c oliver

                                  The Culi is built to residential fire code. It's a NICE rage. Not as hot as American Range commercial, but you'd have to meet restaurant fire-suppression code. If you are doing a complete remodel and can have the contractor install restaurant code fire suppression, look into AR. If not, Culi is the best.

                                  I am kinda sad I didn't go for restaurant code, I had the opportunity, I passed. Culi is great for residential code.

                                  Trevor at Eurostoves is a great entrenpreneur. You can come over to Eurostoves, cook ALL DAY with your fave recipes on multiple-brand stoves. If you buy a Culi, you get your airfare back. What kind of other appliance dealer does that?

                                  Trevor is having fun, putting you on the stove(s), do what you like, and HAVE FUN.

                                  Personal experience: For really high stove-top heating, for 16-inch stir fry, I go to Camp Chef, cheap 30 K btu. I haven't tried 00BK jet burner k btu, but I wiil in the future.

                                  I'd like a 1500F steak broiler. AR has that. I can superheat my Weber to super-brown steaks fast, alas the grill gratings get red hot and sag. And i burn my eyebrows off when I lift the lid. Oh well...

                                  Ovens, I mostly go to my Wolf Ls but the Culi is up there. The Wolfs don't have a rotisserie, but I go to the Weber grill for some of this big-roast, whole bird roasting.

                                  If Wolf or Viking had a 23k range burner, I would have gone with that. Sub-Zero refrigeration not that impressive. We had a SZ. For our total kitchen remodel, we went with Liebherr (Am Caddy vs. Gerrman Mercedes).

                                  My personal preference for "best home residential code" would be if Culi had a 30k burner or two, and a downtuned 8k burner or two. The lowest-setting for Culi 23k max is still a little to hot, but you can use a heat diffuser device. Their prototype had a couple lower-output burners.

                                  Overall, the Culi ia a GREAT RANGE, for residential code. If you can't do restaurant/commercial code installation, it is AWESOME Waay better than lower-BTU sealed burners.

                                  It cleans easily.

                                  I use the Culi oven for sourdough bread. The "secret" of sourdough starter is you get some plain live yogurt culture, like Greek, keep it 85 degrees with no-fat milk and flour for 5 days, good sour fermentation, then add flour and water, and knead, and let rise. TANGY!

                                  1. re: MarkKS

                                    I am not 100% sure, but I think they can still add the 15k or 8k burner if you want - it's just not the default. I find the lowest setting on the Culinarian low enough to simmer in a fairly small pot most of the time, so I was happy we ended up going with all 23k. The clicking / relighting problem was annoying until they came and replaced our burners with the 2nd gen burner assemblies (with the little metal disk in the middle).

                                    1. re: will47

                                      Thanks will47. I'm going to contact Trevor.

                                      If there was a memo sent to the "test monkeys" who pre-ordered Culis last summer and were sent the first-off-the-line stoves, alerting them that a fix had been made to the not-quite-right oriignal burners, re simmer-setting/constant ignitor clicking, I never got it.

                                      Maybe my kitchen designer, who placed the order did. If so, he never notified me.

                                      Did you complain, or did Capital/Trevor spontaneously notify you? Was the 2nd-gen upgrade done no-charge, or if not, how much did it cost?

                                      Do you find that the disk enables you to cook with small 6-8 in diameter pots at uber-low temps?

                                      1. re: MarkKS

                                        I don't think they've been proactively replacing them, just fixing it if people have problems with the lowest simmer blowing out. I complained, and since I'm local, they were able to send out one of the factory techs to replace all 4 burner assemblies. It has been mentioned on the Gardenweb appliance forum a few times, I think, though I don't follow it very closely.

                                        The little disk in the middle doesn't enable lower simmering than without it; just prevents the problem some people had where the igniter would click continuously at low settings. It did seem to help a little with keeping all the holes continuously lit at the lowest setting.

                                        I can melt solid fats in a 1 qt saucepan without it burning; I've had mixed results with low simmers and small pans - sometimes I actually have to turn the stove up a little; other times, it's still a little too much heat. I don't do a lot of super delicate low-heat cooking, so it hasn't been an issue to me thus far. IIRC, the actual difference in heat between the lowest setting of the 23k burner vs. the 8k one is only 10-15 degrees F.

                                        1. re: will47

                                          Thanks for info . I posted the clicking issue on Gardenweb last winter.

                                          I'll call and see what they do. Trevor assured my kitchen guy that Capital would provide service here, even though Capital doesn't have a dealer closer than Texas.

                                          I don't need every burner to be able to simmer without clicking, but I think one or maybe two would be in order.

                                          What do you like especially about your Culi OVEN? How's that rotisserie? I haven't tried mine yet, I'm kind of reticent about making a mess in the still-looks-new oven. ;)

                                          We are going to have a couple major bakefests next holiday season.

                                          1. re: MarkKS

                                            I don't have the rotisserie or self-cleaning version (didn't want the additional mechanical complication of having features we were unlikely to use). I'm vegetarian anyway, though, and my wife rarely cooks meat in the house, so no big loss. I like the oven pretty well so far. It's my first convection oven. Mostly used for baking breads and cookies / pastries. Haven't checked the temperature against a thermometer, but seems to have a pretty accurate thermostat, and I've had good results with everything I've cooked in it. I like the size too, though would be nice if the 30" could hold a full sheet pan the way the Blue Star can.

                                            1. re: will47

                                              I checked mine with two thermometers. Very good temp control.

                                              I can't say the same for Wolf L digitals, they're kind of like a pseudo "precision" gimmick. Mostly the thermometers show lower temps than the digital readout, but on "convection dehydration" the temp jumps between 120 and 135, so fine digital temp-gradation readings are a joke--at customers' expense.

                                              1. re: MarkKS

                                                Even though I was excited about using convection to make several rows of cookies at once... one tip I got from a pastry chef of mine is to *not* use convection for cookies.

                                                1. re: will47

                                                  Interesting. I use convection for my sourdough loaves. But I put them into an alu-foil "purse", so they aren't getting dry air, just hot air flowing around the "purse", which is generating steam inside. Then I pop it open for browning.

                                                  For awesome sourdough, use the live yogurt, nonfat milk (to provide lactose for Lactobacillis to digest), flour, kept at 85 degrees for 3-5 days, described in the Sunset Cookbook. When the "sourdough starter" is ready put it into some flour, water and yeast, knead it and let it rise. Shape it, put it on foil, let it rise some more, then purse it and put it in the Culi at 425 for 25-30 minutes, then open the purse and let it go for another 10-15 at 375-400. Delish!

                                                  1. re: MarkKS

                                                    We do use convection for bread baking usually.

                                                    Our normal sourdough starter is traditional - just flour, water, salt. No need for yogurt or milk.

                                                    1. re: will47

                                                      You could check it out. A UC Davis microbiologist found that old sourdough had Lactobacillus, a new strain, he named L. sanfranciscensi.

                    2. re: hershy79

                      Quick Update: Through speaking directly with the Chairman of Capital, my order has now been re-instated and the delivery should be by the end of next week. I am VERY impressed with the quick work at rectifying an unfortunate situation by both Capital and the Canadian distributor.

                      1. re: hershy79

                        Hello! I came upon this thread while doing my own research on how the CC 36" self-clean model stacks up against the Wolf R36.

                        Just curious to hear how your choice in the CC has worked out?? We are also from Canada (in the GTA), and so any feedback on local service/suppliers/distributor would be greatly appreciated!!

                        I am leaning more towards the CC, as the Wolf (for the price point I can afford) is basically an entry-level model. The CC has more features, like self-clean, that seem to fall into the top-end of Capital's product line.

                        Thanks to all who respond :-)