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Range Questions


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Still davening over what range to buy. It seems to be down to American vs. DCS vs Bluestar. I have some questions that maybe someone can answer...

Is the step-up american sautee range as useful as it seems or is it a gimmick?

Griddle vs. Grille?

Is the absence of electronics on these stoves a blessing or a real deficiency?

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My personal feeling is that the step-up burner configuration is a bad idea. It means you can't, for example, put a long roasting pan back-to-front over two burners. Oversize pots (like a 20-quart stockpot) that hang over the footprint of one burner become problematic. And it's really no big deal to use the back burners when they're on the same level as the front ones. Zillions of professional cooks do it every day.

Griddle v. grill comes down, I think, to which type of cooking you do more often. Me, I'd get a griddle. Also don't get a grill unless you have excellent ventilation.

When you say there are no electronics, which models specifically are you looking at?

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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The step up configuration looks awkward to me as well.

I'm still considering range choices as well and have been leaning heavily towards BlueStar although the conventional top American range looks pretty useful.

I'd definitely choose a griddle over a grill but then again I live in a climate that is grill/bbq friendly year round.

Jon

--formerly known as 6ppc--

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I'm looking at 36" 6 burner models and adding a second oven or doing a 48" with 6 burners and a griddle/grille. The 48" with a small second oven seems like a good idea as the small oven would be quicker and cheaper to heat.

I have only LP gas available which robs some power from the burners.

I can't see the benefit of dual-fuel for the way I cook.

As far as I can see there are no fancy-schmancy electronics and no programmable features on any of these. To me this is a plus. Less to break down etc.

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Okay I see what you mean when you say no electronics. Internally, there are probably some electronics, such as the thermostat for the oven, but there are no digital readouts or controls. Yes, I prefer old-fashioned mechanical controls and I favor simplicity too. As you say, less to go wrong.

Me, I'd do 4 burners and a griddle, plus a second oven. Remember you can always use the griddle to simmer a stockpot or whatever on the rare occasion that you need more than 4 burners in a home-cooking situation. Whereas, a second oven is tremendously useful just about any time you do a holiday meal. You can also make the second oven electric. Another option is a range with 4 burners, a griddle and a grill. I know DCS makes something in that configuration. I've cooked some big meals and I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I've thought maybe I'd have found a 5th burner convenient. There are, by the way, some DCS ranges that put 5 burners into the space typically used for 4. I think that makes a lot of sense.

Incidentally, I have been very happy with my DCS for several years now.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I've got a BlueStar and I really like it - It's just a "big ol' box of fire". Six burners, broiler, convection oven. I opted for the 22K Nova burners in the factory configuration, though if you want to spend the bucks it is possible to have the range custom configured. I've reconfigured it by unplugging the ignitor wires and moving the burner stars. I now have both the 22k burners in the left front and middle positions and the three 15K's in an L with the simmer burner behind the 22k.

My model is the RNB366BSS in stainless steel. If you've looked at the Blue Star Cooking website, you know it's possible to get these ranges in a rainbow of colors - we didn't want to wait for it and I didn't want to spend more on it than the basic price, which was high enough already - though not as high as a Lacanche.

I think the thing I like best about it is the fact that it's really simple. The only electrics/electronics in the thing are the ignitors, the mechanical switches for the oven lights and the convection fan, and possibly the thermostat. Quite a difference from the Miehle's, Dacor's and other "high end" appliances out there.

I had a Dacor for seven years, but it was a real trial. I was never sure what was going to happen when I turned the oven on - Too hot, too cool, just right? This made baking almost impossible. And it's little electronic brain died at six and a half years. It took me four months of back and forth with Dacor to get them to pay for the replacement "Brain". At which point I sold the stove.

The dishes I've done with the BlueStar oven have been spot on. The oven is pretty fast due to the convection fan - though you don't have to use the convection. The 36" range oven will also take a full sheet pan, unlike the Viking. The racks come completely out so cleaning is very easy. Cleaning the cooktop is easy as well. Take off the burner basins and the grates and put them in the dishwasher.

The burners are HOT and because of the cast iron basins retain heat. This is a good thing but you have to remember to actually take pans off the hot burner if you want stuff to stop cooking. They really work well when you want to do big pot blanching of vegetables and I was able to get a true 'restaurant char' when I cooked burgers on a grill pan. Never was able to do that with the Dacor.

The simmer burner is a great thing and able to keep larger pots just at a bubble. No need for a wok ring either - just take off the grate and put the wok on top of the burner star.

So those are the pros. The cons are minor, to me. Cosmetically there are a few issues: A small gap between one of the front grates and the panel, the oven control knob came off its shaft way too easily though I fixed that in about a minute (Chef friend said the knobs come off all the ranges in his kitchen - "Ignore it, it makes it easier to clean"). Apart from that, no complaints. And hey, I bought this thing to use, not look at. Depending on your point of view, the open burners might be a liability, but they are easy to clean, and won't show the crud in the same way a sealed, shiny top does.

Make sure you have a really good hood. This thing is a beast and without a hood it you'll be setting off your smoke alarms every time you use it.

The step up configuration doesn't sound like a particularly good idea to me. The chances of hot pots falling over if placed wrong would always be a concern.

Grills, griddles? I just don't do that much with them so no opinion there.

American vs BlueStar vs DCS -

Well, I looked at all three and when I mentioned the DCS to the guy at Airs he just shook his head. And he sells them. The American range seems like it's not as well built.

Philly Francophiles

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I also had a tough time deciding griddle or grill, I opted for 6 burners. I figured the grill or griddle would be a pain to clean. If I want to griddle I have a griddle pan that fits over 2 burners which I can clean in the sink.

I purchased a 36 inch 6 burner DCS and a KA single wall oven.

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I also had a tough time deciding griddle or grill, I opted for 6 burners. I figured the grill or griddle would be a pain to clean. If I want to griddle I have a griddle pan that fits over 2 burners which I can clean in the sink.

I purchased a 36 inch 6 burner DCS and a KA single wall oven.

I have a 6-burner Bluestar and have been very, very happy with it. However, if I was buying one today, I would definitely take a look at Capital Ranges.

And Tartetatin is right, the BS is a real beast and you do need a very strong exhaust system!

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I looked at the DCS but I've discovered that I don't like that whole "Sealed shiny cooktop thing."

It's far easier to maintain a "rough finish". And when something does spill on the removable grate/basin you only have to throw one in the dishwasher. On a sealed top you're always wiping spills so that they don't "burn in". And you still get stuff stuck to it.

Philly Francophiles

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Like kbjesq, we have been extremely happy with our Bluestar, the six-burner cooktop with two 22K BTU burners. We have the standard configuration, but I may reconfigure the burner layout. After a little adjustment, the 15K burners simmer so low that we rarely use the simmer burner.

Definitely do not cheap out on the hood - you will need all of the CFMs you can afford.

Off-topic, but I have made a mental note to check out that 30K BTU Capital power wok burner when we build our outdoor kitchen, some time in the distant future . . .

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Yes check out Capital, the company was started by former DCS employees after DCS was bought out by Fisher & Paykel. I purchased my range in 2005 so it may differ from the current model(s). Check out this site for opinions on appliances, it has tons of information and I found it very helpful when I remodeled my kitchen: http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/appl/

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If you are interested in a Bluestar, my understanding is that prices will be going up 4-6% on June 1. Since I was planning on ordering one over the summer anyway, I'm going to order mine before then, my local distributor tells me that it's not a problem holding the range in their warehouse if it arrives earlier than my soon-to-begin kitchen renovation will allow for its installation.

I'll be getting the 6 burner 36" range, no grill or griddle. A friend has a 48" Bluestar with 6 burners and a grill, and the two ovens. He loves the grill and uses it often. He also says he uses the smaller oven frequently for family meals--it heats up more quickly than the large one (uses less energy too) but still holds a half-sheet baking pan. I've done some baking in the larger oven (which my 36" model will have) that holds a full-sheet baking pan, and it was a dream. I can't wait for mine.

Also of interest for potential Bluestar buyers: they've begun what they're calling "white glove service." A certified Bluestar service person will visit you after the range has been installed to make sure all calibrations are done well. It also extends the warranty to 2 years.


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We have a Bluestar 4 burners + griddle....(didn't go ovens, went with double Miele) it's much better than our previous 6 burner + griddle Viking.

Service is horrible, go for "white glove" or whatever it's called if it's an improvement. We were referred to a service (annoying ignition problem) with a phone number, no one answered and no answering machine, then someone answered about the 3rd time we called, said he was a serviceman for ranges but never heard of Bluestar and hung up, and we're in Vancouver, not a small centre.

But LOVE the stove, very even and high heat. Also go for the griddle unless you have a professional range hood...do smokey stuff on the BBQ.

Also for what it's worth we got their wine fridge, it's not large but we have a wine cellar so it's for more immediate drinking, and it's great, two zones, works well and inexpensive...minor complaint is large bottomed bottles (eg Burgundies, Turleys) sometimes don't fit.

Have fun!

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Vaughan, service issues about the Bluestar have been my only concern, I read mixed reviews--excellent product when it's working, spotty service when it isn't. I'm hoping that this new "white glove" service is their effort to improve that reputation. though I hear/read enough complaints about other high-end brands...


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Hi Linda,

Actually "spotty" would be a compliment, without getting too angstful, when we first reported the problem after about 3 tries they called and gave a phone message with a number to call, except that it was our own number. Two tries later and much discussion with our contractor, who installed it, they agreed to send us a replacement for faulty part, except that I had to be home to sign for it....."some time the week of April 21st." Oh sure, I'll take the week off and sit at home so I can sign for a part.

Go for the white glove service if they say what it say they'll do, if only to save the potential pain and agony of something going wrong. And great great stove, it's actually worth it.

Vaughan

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Hi Linda,

Actually "spotty" would be a compliment, without getting too angstful, when we first reported the problem after about 3 tries they called and gave a phone message with a number to call, except that it was our own number. Two tries later and much discussion with our contractor, who installed it, they agreed to send us a replacement for faulty part, except that I had to be home to sign for it....."some time the week of April 21st." Oh sure, I'll take the week off and sit at home so I can sign for a part.

Go for the white glove service if they say what it say they'll do, if only to save the potential pain and agony of something going wrong. And great great stove, it's actually worth it.

Vaughan

All depends on what sort of issues you had with the stove -

I've run across the same complaints on Garden Web - It would seem that the further you are from the factory, the "worse" the service is. But it's tough to sort out what the issues are - When my stove was first installed there was a problem with the ignitor on one of the front burners. I figured out that it was mis-alingned and readjusted it myself.

I've also re-configured the burners - moved one of the 22Ks so that both of them are together. Took me ten minutes without tools.

If there had been a problem with the doors or the ignitor module it might have been a different story. But seeing as this is a totally uncomplicated piece of equipment that can be serviced by any qualified gas stove installer I'm not sure what you're talking about. I've found BlueStar to be very accessible - spoken to people at the factory when asking about configuration and found them very helpful.

Edited by TarteTatin (log)

Philly Francophiles

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Well, despite the fair warnings, I guess I'll find out--I bought my Bluestar this morning. For the moment, anyway, excitement reigns.

I took the day off from work to drive up to my local distributor to get my hands on one, and ask a lot of questions, before handing over the credit card (ouch). The sales staff was very frank about the service complaints, they said that the long-time service company that Bluestar used for many years in this region was terrible. Apparently they've parted ways, and the new service company is getting good reviews. Fingers crossed. I won't be cooking on mine for quite a while--kitchen demo starts in two weeks, and I anticipate it will take about 3 months to finish--but I wanted to buy before the price increase.

It was really fun spending an hour or so playing with the stove. I got a chance to dismantle the burner units, see how they're put together (because they're not sealed, it's incredibly simple and straightforward, to back up what TarteTatin says). and put them back together again. Having done that, I feel a little more confident about the whole decision.

I asked about the so-called "white glove service." It's really about calibrating the range properly after installation, since the factory calibrations may not be best for local conditions (elevation, local gas pressure, etc.). Doesn't sound like it guarantees better service--if your local service sucks, then you have 2 years (instead of one) of terrible service covered under warranty.

I'll report back when the stove is actually in my home. I'm glad that even folks such as Vaughn who have had lousy service experiences love the range itself.


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Congratulations Linda. I'm been cooking on my BlueStar since last September. I had one issue that I was worried was one of those cracked ignitor problems, but it just turned out a wire was touching the drip pan. I really love the way the burners work and my oven has held its heat very well. I just haven't figured out yet how to clean around the broiler, but that's probably not something unique to a BlueStar!

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Congratulations Linda. I'm been cooking on my BlueStar since last September. I had one issue that I was worried was one of those cracked ignitor problems, but it just turned out a wire was touching the drip pan. I really love the way the burners work and my oven has held its heat very well. I just haven't figured out yet how to clean around the broiler, but that's probably not something unique to a BlueStar!

The infrared broiler looks awesome, another feature I can't wait to play with. I'm sure I'll be talking with the sales staff at least one more time before installation, I'll try to remember to ask about cleaning so I can report back. They have a working model in their showroom that they use for cooking classes, so they must have figured it out.


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The broiler is really great and super-powerful. One of my favorite cooking pastimes is turning on the oven light and sitting in front of the oven window watching, delightfully, as it whooshes on. :)

Yes, if you find out the best way to clean the oven I'd be most grateful!

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The broiler is really great and super-powerful. One of my favorite cooking pastimes is turning on the oven light and sitting in front of the oven window watching, delightfully, as it whooshes on. :)

Proof that those of us here on eG are a little crazy. I love the idea that an oven light can "whoosh," and look forward to trying it myself.


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  • 2 weeks later...

We are going crazy trying to decide what to replace our 36"dacor duel fuel range with.

The Dacor had been repaired so many that my husband want to get rid of it . It takes 45 minutes to heat the oven up to 350 because the ignitor on the broiler is going and you smell gas . We are looking at the Wolf. I do alot of baking so want a electric convection oven, but want gas burners. Would love some help and suggestions on this topic.

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We are going crazy trying to decide what to replace our 36"dacor duel fuel range with.

The Dacor had been repaired so many that my husband want to get rid of it . It takes 45 minutes to heat the oven up to 350 because the ignitor on the broiler is going and you smell gas . We are looking at the Wolf. I do alot of baking so want a electric convection oven, but want gas burners. Would love some help and suggestions on this topic.

How strange. My Dacor duel fuel has been nothing short of a delight. I've had it for almost 4 years now.

I have no experience with Wolfe, but what about a KA duel fuel or a GE duel fuel, both of which have had great reports.

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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We are going crazy trying to decide what to replace our 36"dacor duel fuel range with.

The Dacor had been repaired so many that my husband want to get rid of it . It takes 45 minutes to heat the oven up to 350 because the ignitor on the broiler is going and you smell gas . We are looking at the Wolf. I do alot of baking so want a electric convection oven, but want gas burners. Would love some help and suggestions on this topic.

How strange. My Dacor duel fuel has been nothing short of a delight. I've had it for almost 4 years now.

I have no experience with Wolfe, but what about a KA duel fuel or a GE duel fuel, both of which have had great reports.

Since purchasing the Dacor (seven years ago), we understand there will be issues, but we have had problems from the start. We use the stove-and all our equipment- with care (we don't rest things on oven door, don't kick or slam the oven door, etc ). Soon after installation we serviced the burners and oven. Then three electronic read-outs have been replaced, oven door hinges replaced, and now broiler won't function properly.

Oddly enough, when we purchased the stove we also bought Dacor convection electric double wall ovens and they are perfect.

When we recently visited a top end appliance shop the Dacor rep was there and heard us complain to the salesman about our success with the wall ovens and disappointment with the stove. He hid and offered no help. I have sent my life as a salesman (successfully) and would welcome an opportunity to aid a customer--his behavior was deplorable.

I guess you didn't expect this rant when you were kind enough to respond, but I think we have been fair to Dacor in our comments.

I am editing this because I was stewing over the situation and just called Dacor customer service who said nothing can be done, "have a nice day". I realize that a company cannot guarantee a product forever, but clearly there were issues with this unit from inception and any accommodation would have been appreciated.

Edited by lapasterie (log)
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