Need a new range-Husband wants a Blue Star! [moved from Site Talk board]
OK-here's the deal. I have an old (20+yrs) Thermadore Prefessional 6 burner that we inherited with the house. I love to bake, but geez this beast has been frustrating! It takes about 45 minutes to preheat and really makes the kitchen/house very hot (I wonder about the shielding). I have had it serviced and this is as good as it gets. I love to bake and I have noticed since this house, my baked goods are inconsistent. Ergo, time to get a new range. We have been researching, pounding the pavement, etc. with conflicting reports. Is the oven on the Blue Star going to satisfy me or should I really get a duel fuel? I should also mention that the wok has been collecting dust since I can't get it hot enough on our stove, but I have also been really frustrated by our simmer burner that does not simmer! Any thoughts?
We have the BS 48 inch with 8 burners. It is great. Regarding pre-heat times: The large oven takes time to heat up. That is a fact. So we get it going and then star doing prep work. While insulated, having several burners of will make a kitchen somewhat warm.
Look at the BS videos on there site and you will see a couple on wok cooking. We also use a wok and being able to remove the grate and surround the wok with flame is terrific. For dual fuel, you may want to look at the Five Star range. Rick Bayless (Mexico, one plate at a time) endorses it and the site has several videos touting the features. It is made by the Brown Stove Works which has been around for decades. We looked at it side by side with the BS at a store and chose the BS ONLY because of the star shaped burners. The oven was secondary.
Don't forget about a good range hood.
We have a 4 burner BS with a griddle, and I have been really pleased with it. The oven does take a bit longer to heat up, but cooks very evenly with the fan on. It comes to 400* in about 15 minutes. I wouldn't even consider one of these without a really powerful exterior venting hood, they really crank out the heat! I have never been able to bring a 4 gallon pot to a boil faster than this.
We have a 36" BS six burner top for over a year and it has been absolute perfection. We spent a year planning, viewing, attending demos and actually test cooking on almost a dozen ranges that we were considering for our gut and rebuild kitchen makeover. We wanted to do high fire wok cooking and if you have a 14" round bottomwok it nestles perfectly into a burner once you lift out the cast iron grate. Hot enough to sear perfectly. The simmer burner is tame enough that we've tempered chocolate over direct heat and even left a sauce or two there completely unattended. The oven is phenomenally huge and readily handles our annual 27 to 28 lb thanksgiving rockwell bird with ease and room to spare. You must plan on a substantial exhaust fan hood combination but if done right, you have a system for cooking that you will not regret. I have friends suffering buyers remorse with Wolf, five star, Jennaire, AGA, and even a reconditioned Garland. We knew what we wanted and happily got it with the BlueStar.
In your research have your read the gardenweb appliance forum?
Have you considered an induction range? It seems most people that get them love them. The range from very high to very low temperature of the burner seems to be there.
The best thing to do I think is try to understand the various features so you can prioritize how they would relate to you and how you cook day to day. There is no one perfect range. Also understand the negatives-every range has them and if there are complaints from actual owners there is probably some basis for it.
As far as ovens, when considering gas vs electric, it is the secondary features that make the difference.
-third element with the convection fan. This is useful if you fill your oven and assists in keeping the temperature even.
-dual convection fans --very useful in keeping the temperature even and more air current that helps things get crispy.
-different modes - direct the heat from the top for roasting and the bottom for baking.
-very precise temperature control-some keep the temp within 2 degrees
The down side can be some have computer boards that have been subject to damage from heat.
-steam assist (KA)that injects steam at the beginning of the bake cycle for people that bake bread.
- infrared broilers. Some are smaller than others so you might want to look at the widths.
- self clean
Consider if the temperature of the doors are important to you. From what people report there are differences in the amount insulation in the door and around the oven cavity.
Preheat times can vary widely because of the way the thermostat works and how much bulk has to be heated. Some ovens will say they are at temp but it will require more cycles to really stabilize. Ovens that have more bulk that will help with radiant heat will take longer to heat.
Longer preheat is not always a bad thing.
Size of the oven cavity and what it will hold. This may be a trade off for the amount of insulation though.
open vs sealed burners. This is an older thread on gardenweb but talks about this issue. Scroll down to a post by cpovey. He is a chef who has a BS, but he explains the difference pretty well with no bias. I learned a lot from him when I was redoing my kitchen.
I think the biggest issue here is cleaning and it is a matter of personal preference.
The amount of heat low and high end has been the subject of much debate with claims and counter claims. You can easily find the upper end in BTU rating , but some companies will only give a temperature, a meaningless number for the low end of their burner making it more difficult to compare. The actual temp will vary depending on the pan and what you are cooking. Some companies have all the burners the same or some will have a mix of sizes. There are dual stack burners that have a simmer burner under the cooking burner. Do you know how many BTUs you have on your burners now?
-some burners have ignitors exposed making them subject to damage
-some people want grills or griddles built in
I am missing a few names but there are ardent fans for BS, Capital, DCS, Bosch, Wolf, NXR and a few more recently for Thermador.
As for our choice 5 years ago, we actually drove 300 miles to look at a BS but my husband(who used to build industrial gas furnaces) did not like the fit and finish and there were service issues at the time so we ended up not buying it. This may have changed now. The oven IS a big deal to me and we ended up with a Wolf DF w/6 burner. We also bought an Electrolux wall oven which we also like. I absolutely love my range. The oven is the best I have ever had(over 50 years of cooking and none of my previous ovens were bad). It was a little learning curve learning to use the different modes but now I would hate to be without them. I do not use convection for cakes or quickbreads and it bakes very evenly with and without convection. I thought I would "have" to have the 22K BTU burner but we have no problem stirfrying 1-2 lbs at a time or searing steak on a cast iron skillet. I do not care how fast water boils so never have timed it. I have rarely had the burners cranked all the way. The simmer/warming is a strong point for Wolf with dual stacked burners on all burners. One burner is also smaller for smaller pots. We use the low end of these burners daily and you can hold even mashed potatoes without scorching. DCS has dual stacked burners as well.
When reading all the different posts and considering options I would give more weight to opinions given about appliances that people have actually owned and cooked on over a period of time. Very few people have owned current models of more than one of these ranges and can actually compare them. They can only say what their range does for them in the context of how they cook. People tend to get very invested in "their" choice and having the "best" range to the point of being demeaning(even name calling) of other choices based on different priorities.
Good luck in your search!
We have had a 4 burner BS for about a year. My observations:
1. Oven takes fairly long to heat up--25 mins to 400 for us.
2. Oven heats up a large area around it--the whole kitchen on a cool day.
3. The burners will give you all the heat you need. Simmering is difficult.
That said, I love the stove since we do a lot of roasting and little traditional baking. I also find the infrared broiler amazing for top browning and that's not available in that many ovens.