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Jun 26, 2011 06:09 PM

finally building my 1rst kitchen and need help w/ at least BS v Wolf ranges, griddles and vents. 1000000 q's

long-time renter getting my own place and re-modeling. I am excited and intimidated at the same time.
looking at rangetops, wall ovens and all-in-one freestanding ranges. and vents. I dislike the look of hoods and the sound of loud fans, but I am pretty sold on either a Wolf or Blue Star range or range-top.
I think that means there will be a hood and vent. do we think vent-a-hood is better than the Blue Star and Wolfs? I'm leaning towards the 36" because of the built-in griddle feature. we'll have a grill outside. my obsession with the built in griddle is tied both to my add and hatred of doing dishes. I usually cook for two and tend to scale back on the number of ingredients and the number of steps in our dishes, because it just gets too complicated to use many pans and also to clean them all up after relaxing with a meal. anyhow, I'd love to scrape a griddle instead of deal with pans. the Wolf one looks easy to use and clean. I have never seen the BS griddle in person, but it looks as though it'd be the same. please correct me if I am wrong! of course I need burners. I am curious about the french top. I think I can get griddle, 2 burners and one French top into a 36"? it could be a super-bad idea. what do we think? if so, I'm leaning away from the French top, then, and towards four burners. and griddle. my usability concerns: the griddle looks skinny, but 24" would be silly and I know it's just be reactionary against so many years of renting apartment-sized kitchens. also, I hear the built-in griddles take a long time to heat up/or they don't get hot enough to use. I'm hoping the newest generation is different? also, I am guessing the center griddle plan is to get the venting right without getting a hood larger than the range. still, I am pretty sure I'd burn myself with a griddle between four burners. I'm thinking of a right hand griddle. curious about the Heritage BS line which seems to have a raised griddle and a broiler in the 36". is the height awkward? if I do the 36" (which seems enormous) I will likely get the oven underneath instead of on the wall. stooping will be tougher than a wall, but I do want a wide oven. then, I can use full sized sheets. which will mean that I will also need a giant sink. washing baking sheets doesn't bug me as much as frying pans. without a wall stack, perhaps I could stick a microwave on the wall and possibly a supplemental (more narrow) oven over or under. or a steam oven. I have never used the later. more likely: just the honking range/oven/vent/hood/sink. and call it a day. if I sound super-nuts because I usually just cook for two, consider that when we do have company, it could be upwards of eight. also, when I bake, it's always for more than just us (I'll bring to parties, etc.). but, I know that I need some practical advice from people who have owned appliances before. willing to hear all comers. thank you for your time and help...

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  1. 1. Next time, use capitalization and punctuation in your post to make it easier to read and understand.

    2. Visit the Garden Web: . They know much more about kitchen remodels.

    3. Visit a high-end appliance store and ask to try out the goods. Reputable places will let you. Wolf, in particular, has great demonstrations.

    4. Hire a kitchen designer.

    5. Take your favorite pots and pans and cookie sheets to the appliance store and make sure they fit.

    6. Don't skimp on overhead ventilation. Hire a d*mn good contractor.

    7. Don't skimp on lighting. Hire a kitchen designer.

    8. Don't decide to just "stick a microwave on a wall." Hire a kitchen designer.

    1 Reply
    1. re: E_M

      I 2nd 4, 6, 7 and 8 esp. - If you're going to spend that kind of money on the range, ask yourself "am I in for a penny or in for a pound?" no point in that investment and render it almost useless due to oversight. (lighting is a pet peeve of mine)

    2. Agree with above and checkout the gardenweb appliance forum as well. There are huge amounts of opinion on this forum and that one. Think about what you want your kitchen to do. What is your cooking style? Why do you want a French top? Why do you want to cook on full sheet pans? I cook for 30-40 at least once a month and I find it much easier to deal with half sheet pans. Consider storage, prepared trays that need to be refrigerated, washing and just general handling. Some people do prefer the full size but just be aware of what you will be dealing with.

      1. Geeze! Take a breath, already!

        A friend of mine just did a remodel only involving gutting, new cabinets, counter tops, a sink, and some other carpentry. No new appliances, no new flooring. He bought the cabinets at the Bargain Outlet and put them together himself, and the contractor put them in. He estimates this frugal remodel cost him about $35-40 k.

        The kind of remodel you are talking about involves big bucks. If you have the budget to do this kind of remodel you really need to hire a professional kitchen designer. Don't be penny wise and pound foolish.

        Is the work going to be done before you move in or after? If the latter, can you live without a kitchen for a couple of months?

        Finally, before you settle in on a range, make sure the kitchen you are putting it in can support it. My sister had to shore up the kitchen floor to support her fancy new unexpected (and expensive) surprise.

        1. Great opinions so far. Does anyone have specific recommendations for Kitchen Designers in the Boston area? Does anyone have experience with the griddles or ranges I am considering?

          @al b : We move in January 1. Using ply slab, fireslate and probably rubber floors. Open shelves for uppers. Spending the $ on appliances.

          @wekick : Never cook for that many, but I do bake and sell some cakes, etc to caterers. I suppose they could just transfer things to their own full sheets. That's what they do now.

          10 Replies
          1. re: cef

            These boards (and others) are filled with an equal amount of lovers and haters of the two brands you are considering. Of more importance is the LEVEL OF CUSTOMER SERVICE SUPPORT in your area. This is critical in out-of-the-way areas, so you should be OK in Boston. But double check.

            French tops are not often used in residential applications. They are essentially a giant cooktop that holds as many pots as you can cram on them. This makes them rather complex to properly manage (safety is a factor), so unless you often have a lot of pots in varying stages of done-ness, you may want to forgo this. There are other ways of keeping things warm, such as warming drawers and a pan of simmering water over an auxiliary burner.

            Wolf and Bluestar are very different. Bluestar has 22K BTU open burners, while Wolf maxes out at 18K (I *think*) and has closed burners. Wolf is famed for their simmer function, so if you don't temper a lot of chocolate or have an extra induction cooktop, it might not be important to you. Personally, I like an open burner, although they are harder to clean.

            Gas cooktops are, or should be, simple things. When you add an oven beneath it, particularly an electric one, there is suddenly much more opportunity for the unit to break. This is why I like separate ovens and cooktops. The Bluestar cooktop I know to be as simple as they come (I am not sure about Wolf.) One thing you will need to double-check is whether or not the gas unit is usable without electricity, as in the event of a power outtage. The Bluestar is, but I am not sure about the Wolf. (I was considering a single Wolf burner and nixed that idea because it wasn't usable without electricity.)

            Grill and griddles are useful, the grill more so. This is because you can put a griddle on top of it and use it that way. I believe if you opt for a griddle, you are stuck. A griddle pan on top doesn't work well. (At least, I think that is the correct order. You will want to double check.)

            Other things you might want to consider is a double induction cooktop for simmering and rapid boiling, and a warming drawer. Also, with the level of BTUs you are looking at you may need MUA (makeup air). This could get very complicated and expensive.

            Bakers prefer electric ovens, especially these days, convection ovens. (OK, they are awesome.) Large sheet pans require correspondently large refrigerators and storage. May not be worth it.

            Good luck.

            1. re: E_M

              Wolf has 2 burners, a semi open on the all gas and a sealed on the dual fuel. A griddle overlay is great on regular burners as well and you can get different sizes to cover as many as 4 burners. You could almost use it as a kind of a french top if you wanted to. Another range people like is Capital Culinarian. Level of service is critical. Also check online reviews of the dealer and the BBB before you buy your appliances. On some all gas ranges you will have an infrared broiler, with very high heat great for steaks and the convection in the oven will be a fan. On a dual fuel the electric oven may have different modes that direct the heat from top or bottom and a heating element around the fan. This called true or European convection. I have the DF and I like the modes and being able to direct the heat but am not sold on the necessity of the third element.
              Convection is great for a lot of things but I don't use it for cakes, quick breads or batters that need to rise because depending on the air movement the cake can look blown and the crust may set quicker restricting the rise. The heat coming from all directions will cause the cake to bake differently as well, but there are those on the forums here who DO bake cakes with success so there must be a difference in the convection. The convection is great when you want crispy. I can't tell all that much difference between electric or gas for baking/roasting. You might consider a range top and 36 inch wall ovens if you want a very wide oven.

              1. re: wekick

                I completely agree on not getting the permanent griddle. It wastes space (although arguably not sure how you're reconciling your "don't want to wash pans" lifestyle with a 36" pro-style range in the first instance) and doesn't give you much more functionality than a rectangular stovetop griddle.

                1. re: ferret

                  @ ferret: Fair comment. I neglected to explain that, especially when cooking all at once and for many, I cannot avoid using at least four burners and producing multiple dirty pans. I just hate to do it every night.
                  I passively avoid doing it every night by using simple recipes with few ingredients or steps when I cook for just my husband and I. If I had endless fresh produce, that may be okay, but I do not shop so regularly that I can get away with it. Anyhow, my husband is getting the short end of the stick just because I am lazy. I picture (maybe "fantasize" is a better word) that the griddle would have me cooking more and cleaning less.
                  I wanted to know (among other things) how flawed my thinking is...from folks who have already experienced the appliances I'm considering buying. For example, if it really takes 20 minutes under a loud hood to heat the griddle, I know it'll never work out the way I imagine. If I can get a reasonable-sounding vent with a fast griddle, I think I would use it--if it was as easy to clean as spraying and scraping a single surface while hot.
                  I don't mind the actual prep and cooking, but after eating a meal and drinking wine, I'm better at napping than scrubbing.

                  @cutiepie721: Thank you for the recs. I have been to Yale but not to the other so far. I will go for sure.

                  Thanks again to E_M and wekick for your generous help. I appreciate it.

                    1. re: cef

                      I am completely confused. What does a vent have to do with how fast a griddle heats? Also, could you provide a few examples of what kind of fast cooking you are doing? I can't envision cooking dinner solely on a grill or griddle.

                      1. re: E_M

                        <<I can't envision cooking dinner solely on a grill or griddle.>>

                        I can think of three scenarios though I'm not sure how this fits in terms of home cooking:

                        1. Diner
                        2. Plancha
                        3. Teppanyaki

                        Onion volcanoes?

                        1. re: E_M

                          @E_M I have said that drawbacks for me with these products would be, for example: a very loud vent and/or a slow-to-heat-griddle. The process of cooking soothes me, but it'd be harder to get into that zone when starting with irritations like noise and waiting. People who have the griddles and the vents I am thinking of getting could comment on their experience, I thought. Also--I am not looking to simply buy a griddle. I am looking at the griddle feature on a 36" range or rangetop. So, that is four burners (which is all I have ever had) and a built-in griddle. Another configuration I was considering is: a griddle, two burners and a French top. This is because someone told me that a French top is (for them) much more useful than two burners. I have never used one myself, so I wanted to hear the opinions of others.
                          I'd use the griddle to cook multiple vegetables to seperate levels of finish without mixing them and without seperate pans., then turning it up to sear fish. and finish some par-boiled grains with oil. for all of that, I could deglaze and scrape the debris into the little tray, throw some water on it and turn it off to serve. When I am done eating, all I have to do is empty the crust from the front lip tray, wash it off and drop it back into the range. It's like washing one knife after a meal instead of getting into soaking and scrubbing.
                          I serve wine in good glasses. Those are what I like to hand wash and dry after dinner, because it is so quiet and satisfying to do it right. then I clean out and and set up the coffee machine for the next morning. that's how I like to end my day.

                          1. re: cef

                            well then get a good HVAC/mech engineer and put a good strong hood fan at the OTHER end of the duct at the exhaust point - then the noise is outside-ish.

                2. re: cef

                  I don't have any kitchen designers for recommendation. But if you want to check out appliances, do not miss out these two places.


                3. some tips that might change the way you cook:
                  in my experience, with high btu ranges that have the pan elevated on high grates [like the wolf], the heat is so evenly distributed there arent the hot spot scorches from the heat source you may be used to. you will find the pots arent as hard to clean as a result.
                  BUT this also means the range's burners pour out astounding heat, and you really need a high cfm exhaust fan [wall mounted, not downdraft] to go with the high btu range. and if your house is modern and not drafty, you probably need a source of fresh air while the vent hood is running to prevent backdrafting. backdrafting means your fireplace smoke or gas furnace fumes are sucked into your house. this is such a recent problem that kitchen desgners and appliance dealers are usually uninformed about it. it's a new problem, as it requires high btu ranges, high cfm exhaust fans and "tight" energy efficient houses. an opened window can provide the fresh air, but is rather inconvenient in the winter.
                  when you have to pull hard to open a door and then have it slam behind you, that can be from negative air pressure, another term for backdrafting.
                  by the way, i chose a thermador for the vent hood. whatever brand you get, i recommend the type with restaurant style baffles that can be but in the dishwasher.
                  I always wash my cookware in the dishwasher, its mainly stainless sitram and stainless calphalon. if i get something really scorched [usually from stir-frying], i boil water with a 1/4 cup of baking soda in the dirty pot for 5 to 10 min, let it cool and all the residue wipes out with toweling -- the magic of chemistry! then put in the dishwasher to clean the rest of the pot. pots look amazingly new after the baking soda treatment.
                  i think scraping a griddle is lots more work that using the dishwasher.
                  if you want to use full sheet pans, be sure check the oven; a lot of ovens are smaller inside than they look because of convection fans. and a lot of ranges have a small and medium oven rather than one big oven.
                  good luck.