New house needs new range. I only have LP option, no natural gas. I used to have the Dacor duel fuel and loved it because they had a gas broiler with an electric oven. No longer an option. I like to bake, roast, and wok cooking so high power burner a big plus. LP seems to run colder than natural and I make a lot of pasta and don't want to wait for the water to come to a boil. I have done a lot of research and it seems like non cover all my "wish list". So far have identified the following pros/cons but am still struggling with a decision with so many options:
- Bluestar - pros : 22K burner, infrared broiler, oven large enough to fit a full sheet pan even in the 48". cons: cooking on a full sheet pan does not cook evenly and pans have to be turned mid cycle, broiler is smallest in the business so provide small broiler area, open burners seem like they would be a hassle to clean but could live with them.
- Wolf - pros: quality, closed burners, looks. cons: smaller oven than Bluestar, lower burner power 16K.
- Capital - Pros: All 23K burners?, a rotisseire, moist baking/roasting (not sure exactly what this is), looks. Cons: new to my list and I know nothing about them.
If burner high heat and good baking oven are both top priorities, any opinions on which is the best way to go?
We have a CC (30" manual clean, no rotisserie), and have been really happy with it for both baking and stovetop cooking. Not only is the heat about as high as you'll get on a residential stove, but the low simmer is very low, the heat dispersion of the open burners is very even, and the wok grate holds the wok very securely. There were some clicking / relighting issues with the burners on low simmers at first, but Capital has since slightly changed the design of the burners to fix this. Overall, we really love it; I have cooked on a Wolf once or twice, but never on a Bluestar. I consider the closed burners on the Wolf a con more than a pro.
I've live in an apartment and my oven doesn't work at the moment, but I get by with a microwave. I'm not in the market for any appliances. However, the Bluestar Oven was reciently mentioned on the new show Two Broke Girls. One of the girls sells an expensive ring
to get a Bluestar Oven for their Cupcake Business. I wasn't sure such an oven existed so I googled it. When I think of high end ovens my mind goes to Viking, (thanks to a New Yorker article.) Does anybody out there watch this show, (my rings made a ding.")
I doubt the difference in burner power from 16K BTU and up makes any difference, even for wok cooking, for residential use. I've been using a wok for 40 years, on typical residential ranges both gas and electric, so I understand the usefulness of having a burner with twice the heat output. Once you get into that territory, however, the differences between pro-style ranges are small.
Home cooks typically use a 12" or 14" wok. Commercial cooks use woks twice the diameter. That's where high ouput burners are most needed.
I've used stoves around 15-17k (both pro-style and non), and IMHO, there is a difference between that and the 23k burners on the Culinarian (and, I'd assume the comparable open burners on the Blue Star and American Range lines). There is also a difference between sealed burners and open in terms of how the heat is distributed (I've seen claims that it improves the efficiency as well, though I can't speak to that directly / authoritatively).
As someone pointed out elsewhere on Chow, even though commercial woks are bigger, the actual area where the heat is concentrated is not that much bigger on a big wok than on a small one - generally most of the heat is concentrated at the bottom of the wok. Commercial wok burners do have a greater distance between the pan and the jets, though, because the chamber is set quite a bit above the bottom of the pan.
Even 22k - 25k is not really enough; I do use the Culinarian for wok cooking a lot at home, but I don't delude myself into thinking the results are the same as with a commercial wok stove for high-heat type applications. It is, however, enough to keep a constant 'sizzle' going through stir-frying food, provided you don't crowd the pan or add food that hasn't been dried well. I don't personally have an outdoor setup, but I think that's really the way to go if you want to do super high-heat wok cooking at home.
As I understand it, the amount of heat applied doesn't have so much to do with the size of the pan, but the cooking style itself ('chao' vs. 'bao'). The 'bao' style of wok cooking typically uses a single-handled wok only slightly bigger than a home wok (often 15-17"), and a smaller chamber size, and yet uses the most heat, and the most intensely directed heat, because of the style of cooking. The woks with round loop handles (for example, those used in Cantonese cooking) generally come in larger sizes, but often use somewhat lower-powered stoves.
The other thing I notice with the Culinarian is that cooking things is definitely faster. I think anyone who buys a $4000+ range because of saving a minute here or there is rationalizing to the highest degree, so I would *never* urge someone to buy an expensive stove simply because it will save them time. However, I do notice that it's faster to do everything from stir-frying to boiling water with a high-output open-burner stove. Also, I had surprisingly few problems adjusting to the extra heat, though by no means do I cook everything with the burners at full blast.
Certainly more BTUs will always be faster, so the question is when does that reach the point of dimishing returns?
The effect of a larger wox is that radiation of heat will be proportional to area, so a large wok needs more heat input to maintain temperature even though the heat is greatest in the center.
Capital's moist assist feature is on the electric wall oven. It is supposed to give you dry heat of an electric oven and moist heat of a gas oven when using the moist assist feature.Not available in the all gas oven. Never used a Capital wall oven so I don't know if it works or not.
A motorized rotisserie is available in the self-clean Capital Culinarian.It also has ez-glide racks and obviously self-clean oven. 30" oven can not accept a full size commericial baking sheet but the larger ovens can. All feature a cool door feature.Somewhat cooler than Wolf and alot cooler than Bluestar. It's open burners are two piece making it easier to clean. The difference in heat put into the pan by Culinarian(CC)/Bluestar(BS) RNB on the one hand and Wolf on the other is greater than the 6-7k btu would suggest. Sealed burners shoot heat to the side then up.Alot of heat goes around the pan and is lost.BS/CC open burners shoot heat directly at the bottom of the pan. There is a point of dimining returns but it is no where near 23k btu.
All ranges can simmer butter and melt chocolate without burning it. BSs simmer burner can get lower than CC's. An inexpensive cast iron heat diffuser can get temps as low as 115 degrees if you want to "cook" vegan/raw foodist faire.On the other hand, CC's top end is a little higher and available on all the burners.So if you want put a grill/griddle over two/three burners it works better.
BS has an available french top,salamander, and many more colors available.
I would cross out the Wolf and figure out exactly which size and options are a priority.
Cool door or bigger oven?
Rotisserie/Self-clean or french top/salamander?
CC availabe in 10 colors plus SS. BS available in SS or any color you want.
Lastly,I would say that the fit and finish of the CC and Wolf are about the same while the BS is a bit behind.
Thank you all for your great comments! Sound like either CC or Bluestar would work well for my needs. My sister has a BS but it does not have convection which might be why she has challenges baking on a full sheet. I wish CC had been around longer to have a sense of its durability. Has anyone heard about any support issues with either BS or CC? I read the blogs around the first models having some issues in late 2010 but nothing since then.
Sounds like your sister has the RCS not the RNB with 22k btu burners.
Before Capital came out with the Culinarian Bluestar had no real competition for the hardcore foodie "we want pro functionality not just pro style range" segment. And they turned a deaf ear to customer complaints. In the last year they have redesigned the oven door hinge that used to stick,they have improved the quality of their welding,and by most accouts return your phone calls/emails in a timely manner.
Capital has been known for quality and customer service. When the Culinarian came out there were customer complaints about the racks on the manual clean range sitting to high,the fill-in piece between the grates on the 30" range,and the fit of the grates on rangetops. All were fixed rather quickly.
It seems sales have increased dramatically for Capital but they have not increased their staff. So there have been some delays in returning calls/emails/ and getting parts out for ranges damaged in transit. But that seems to have gotten better in the last three months.
The Culinarian is based on the Capital Precision which was released about six years ago. It is vitually identical save for the gas orifice and burners.The Precision has enjoyed a good reputation. The Culinarian's burners are very very similar to the burners on the Therma-Tek commercial range. Those burners have been out for about seven years.Therma-Tek is Capital's sister company that makes commercial ranges.
Both of these ranges are domesticated commercial ranges. A teeny tiny pot can fall into the grates. The CC burner can hold a 145 degree simmer temperature. Some sauces call for simmer temps as low as 120 degrees and the raw foodist movement calls for "cooking" food at temps no higher than 115 degrees. All solved with a cheap cast iron heat diffuser.