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Purchased! - Potential BlueStar Range Purchase


CentralMA
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@gfweb - I'm probably going to end up doing the actual install myself. The delivery guys are just going to drop it off in my kitchen, uncrate it, and level it. Any particular tips on installation from anyone are welcome. I'd gladly pay the $100 installation fee on the $4000 stove but that adds another layer of scheduling and another 2-3 week delay. I was lucky to find the RCS in stock right now at all with appliance availability being what it is. It's crazy finding anyone to do anything right now, or the parts for them to do it with. Plus I like doing things myself when I can.

 

I totally agree that 15K is damn hot already. I stir-fry now on a 15K Iwatani butane burner and I'm not at all unhappy with it. The basic Bluestar does that already with a far better burner pattern and stability for round woks. But... I *can* do a 22K, right? For less than $200 and a bit of tinkering? Seems pretty attractive, even if hardly necessary. As I understand it, there's absolutely no difference in the actual stove between the RCS and RNB beyond the burner parts themselves. Yeah... warranties, insurance, etc. I get it. I do. Like I said, not sold yet. Gonna get it in and play around with it and see what I think.

 

@CentralMA - I'm curious about what exactly you were looking for in thrifting woks like that. Is there something you were looking for that you couldn't find elsewhere? Even a high-end 16" hand-hammered carbon steel wok isn't all that expensive.

 

As for the gas oven... yeah, I thought about that a lot. I do some reasonably serious cake and pastry work myself. But all the absolute worst horror stories I read about Viking/Wolf gear revolved around dual-fuel ranges with dodgy oven elements that hit owners for $1K repair bills over and over and over. I can live with a gas convection oven in exchange for a better shot at reliability. I could get cakes I was proud of out of my old crappy Maytag... I'm sure I can do at least that well with a Bluestar gas convection unit. If I want to get really hardcore about it, I could get a small commercial convection oven and run it in the mud room off the kitchen. Probably that would require a 220V line, but that's not so expensive to install if I really want it. Better - IMO - than worrying about the reliability of our main range. YMMV. But I very much doubt I'll ever go that far.

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21 hours ago, tppytel said:

@gfweb - I'm probably going to end up doing the actual install myself. The delivery guys are just going to drop it off in my kitchen, uncrate it, and level it. Any particular tips on installation from anyone are welcome. I'd gladly pay the $100 installation fee on the $4000 stove but that adds another layer of scheduling and another 2-3 week delay. I was lucky to find the RCS in stock right now at all with appliance availability being what it is. It's crazy finding anyone to do anything right now, or the parts for them to do it with. Plus I like doing things myself when I can.

 

I totally agree that 15K is damn hot already. I stir-fry now on a 15K Iwatani butane burner and I'm not at all unhappy with it. The basic Bluestar does that already with a far better burner pattern and stability for round woks. But... I *can* do a 22K, right? For less than $200 and a bit of tinkering? Seems pretty attractive, even if hardly necessary. As I understand it, there's absolutely no difference in the actual stove between the RCS and RNB beyond the burner parts themselves. Yeah... warranties, insurance, etc. I get it. I do. Like I said, not sold yet. Gonna get it in and play around with it and see what I think.

 

@CentralMA - I'm curious about what exactly you were looking for in thrifting woks like that. Is there something you were looking for that you couldn't find elsewhere? Even a high-end 16" hand-hammered carbon steel wok isn't all that expensive.

 

As for the gas oven... yeah, I thought about that a lot. I do some reasonably serious cake and pastry work myself. But all the absolute worst horror stories I read about Viking/Wolf gear revolved around dual-fuel ranges with dodgy oven elements that hit owners for $1K repair bills over and over and over. I can live with a gas convection oven in exchange for a better shot at reliability. I could get cakes I was proud of out of my old crappy Maytag... I'm sure I can do at least that well with a Bluestar gas convection unit. If I want to get really hardcore about it, I could get a small commercial convection oven and run it in the mud room off the kitchen. Probably that would require a 220V line, but that's not so expensive to install if I really want it. Better - IMO - than worrying about the reliability of our main range. YMMV. But I very much doubt I'll ever go that far.

 

Thrifting woks...it's the hunt, don't you know.

 

I'm certainly not finding anything better in a product, but as I don't "need" them, I can wait for the fun to happen. Out in my area I can find good vintage carbon steel woks, most look like they've been used once or twice or not at all. Usually well under $5.00. I'm set, but I've been looking out for more for my youngest on their request.

 

Same with other kitchen items. Recent finds have been a cast iron Weber branded skillet, designed to work with their "Gourmet BBQ System", I have the needed fixtures for my 22" kettle. Other recent Weber finds were a new in box vertical chicken roaster, and a new in box pizza stone accessory. Both vintage goods, and quite usable. 

 

Cast iron oyster grill pan? Got that too. Fun to use and looks great serving the table. And again, at less than 10% of what it would be retail.

 

But, anyway. Talking about self installing...

 

I went that route, but to an extreme. I picked up the stove at the dealer myself, got it into the back of a van, transported over state lines (sounds bad, huh? but saved a state tax...) and got it into my house with the help of a good friend. Saved me a bit over $600 (about 10%) off of other quotes in my area, that included delivery into the house, but not the actual installation. Remember that these stoves weight well over 300 lbs, getting them into a tight spot after hooking up the gas line is not easy.

 

For our install I had a plumber in to extend our gas line to the kitchen area (we had electric stove previous). As part of the $500 charge he would come back for the final install, permit signing, etc. I rented an AirSled from a rental outfit some 30 miles away for a half day, about $30 or so. Scheduled the plumber for that time spot. With the AirSled and some extra shimming from scrap lumber for height the two of us were able to slide the stove in with just finger pressure on the front of the stove. It was like the 350 lbs was on ice. Once tested for operation, he left. I leveled it myself, again the Airsled in use. 

 

 

I also looked at getting the less expensive model, then eventually getting the hotter burner in by hook or by crook. But then the Gov't decided to pass out a bunch of $$$$, I decided to spend it on a true American made product (Something I don't usually look to do as a priority). That paid for half of it. And then incredibly enough, they gave me the other half this year? What's up with that?  

 

As part of the BlueStar purchase I agreed to put the electric oven in the basement, with 220v accessible. My wife was seriously concerned about the baking aspect. So far it's not been used.

 

She also was somewhat against the purchase itself of the BlueStar. After the install and a couple of uses, she was going through the installation manual / instruction set and asked me why I didn't get the 36" with griddle? My oh my...

 

And with the hot burners, get yourself some good thick carbon steel pans. Darto, de Buyer Mineral B, others. A pleasure to use. Indestructible. 

 

 

 

 

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@CentralMA
couldn't agree more. The carbon steel goes great with the BS. I have a darto and a matfer...joy to cook with. But the all clad master chef are happy there too. 

 

Re the griddle, I had a Vulcan with a big one. Maybe used it twice. PITA to clean and unless you cook for a crowd its more than you need

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15 minutes ago, gfweb said:

@CentralMA
couldn't agree more. The carbon steel goes great with the BS. I have a darto and a matfer...joy to cook with. But the all clad master chef are happy there too. 

 

Re the griddle, I had a Vulcan with a big one. Maybe used it twice. PITA to clean and unless you cook for a crowd its more than you need

 

My wife likes a griddle for arepas, pancakes, bacon, flatbreads (as do I). 

 

Going from a 30" to a 36" would have taken up counter and cabinet space, something that was in contention at the time. Add in an expense of another $800 or so.

 

But, now that we're here, we could have easily given up the counter and cabinet space, and the $800 wouldn't have been a dealbreaker. But, it was the time and place of a kitchen redo, with the majority of the design and actual labor our own. Not something I'd do again.

 

Well, maybe I would. But I'd like to shoehorn in a 48" unit....that'd go over well. 

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Our BS 30" has been a joy for years, once some initial teething troubles were sorted out a decade or thereabouts back. Last year the oven stopped lighting reliably - the igniter was the problem [they do not last forever]; the replacement part was about $20 on eBay [it's a standard item] and took about ten minutes to install through the front door. 

One of the things I have enjoyed about the 'monster' is the degree to which the manufacturer has been prepared to support me doing my own repairs as needed  over the years. When a mouse got in and shredded oven insulation the company sent me a full quantity of insulation to fix it, on their dime.

Over time, heat cycling [expansion and contraction] pulled some oven rivets - It was easy to replace them myself again through the door. When an earlier door hinge design evidenced problems, many years back, they shipped us a complete new door and hinge set F.O.C.


And of course it's a joy to cook on / in. 

A "mid-life crisis" purchase which has proven  perhaps more durable than a sports car would have been 😊

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8 hours ago, gfweb said:

@CentralMA
couldn't agree more. The carbon steel goes great with the BS. I have a darto and a matfer...joy to cook with. But the all clad master chef are happy there too. 

 

Re the griddle, I had a Vulcan with a big one. Maybe used it twice. PITA to clean and unless you cook for a crowd its more than you need

 

I enjoy cooking on a griddle (I call it a plancha just becuz), especially one which can then be moved into the sink to clean, and which serves a dual purpose. This one works for me, and there's a larger one as well (yeah, we have both, but the large one stays in the oven; it's friggin' heavy).

 

image.thumb.png.732585cefda256b8a5f429ac0907faea.png

 

Baking Steel Mini Griddle  If you see one of these in a second hand store, grab it.

 

  • Quote

    The Mini Griddle is great as a stovetop griddle, induction plate, and even as a cold plate after its been frozen. Cook with us on top of your gas, induction or electric stovetops, grills, and ovens.   Oh, we fit into Breville Smart Ovens and other toaster ovens too! Get superb results EVERY TIME.

     

Edited by weinoo (log)

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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1 hour ago, weinoo said:

 

I enjoy cooking on a griddle (I call it a plancha just becuz), especially one which can then be moved into the sink to clean, and which serves a dual purpose. This one works for me, and there's a larger one as well (yeah, we have both, but the large one stays in the oven; it's friggin' heavy).

 

image.thumb.png.732585cefda256b8a5f429ac0907faea.png

 

Baking Steel Mini Griddle  If you see one of these in a second hand store, grab it.

 

  •  

 

We've got several planchas, some cast iron, some rolled steel. So we have lots of surface to put in place if needed.

 

For a number of years we've had this also, for outdoor use. As simple as it is it has shown to be very useful. Called a MoJoe, from a guy out in California. Gets blistering hot if you want it to. We use ours on a 22" Weber kettle, as on the left in the pic from their website.

 

1716829506_ThreeWaystoUse.jpg.b55b88d8a6f89e914afeb21565106336.jpg

 

 

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Interesting and ironic as we have recently been talking about trying to track down a 2 burner 'griddle' to put on a gas (wolf) range.  Primarily to cook tortillas on (takes a while 4 at a time in my carbon steel pan and estimate I could double that with a 2 burner setup!) tbh.

 

I had thought about trying to use my modernest pizza cooking steel but it is too square shaped to be efficient.

 

 

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3 hours ago, weinoo said:

 

I enjoy cooking on a griddle (I call it a plancha just becuz), especially one which can then be moved into the sink to clean, and which serves a dual purpose. This one works for me, and there's a larger one as well (yeah, we have both, but the large one stays in the oven; it's friggin' heavy).

 

image.thumb.png.732585cefda256b8a5f429ac0907faea.png

 

Baking Steel Mini Griddle  If you see one of these in a second hand store, grab it.

 

  •  

One of the reviews (Jesse H.) shows it being used in an APO.

 

p

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2 hours ago, CentralMA said:

We've got several planchas, some cast iron, some rolled steel. So we have lots of surface to put in place if needed.

I have had this Le Creuset griddle for at least a couple decades, always thinking that if I had my much desired gas stove that it would heat evenly - which it never has on the two cooktops it’s been used with up to now. I wonder if this one is in your collection, @CentralMA, and if so, how it works on your Blue Star? I can’t bring myself to get rid of the darn thing, but I do get tired of how unevenly it cooks homemade tortillas. And, at this point I’ve don’t even think of it when cooking up a big pancake batch or french toast because those have never been anything but a mess on it - parts burned and parts underdone.  I’ve always assumed it was my stove tops. But maybe it’s the griddle!

gayle28607

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@CentralMA - I've never been a big thrifter myself. Depends on the item. But you do you, of course. Just curious if I was missing something wok-specific. I think I'll just be buying something from Craft Wok. I might do both a 14" round and a 16" round. 

 

The Air Sled is a good idea... thanks for that. I might go that way to make the final push into place a bit easier. Or maybe I'll just recruit some muscle. My kitchen floors are ancient hardwood that's pretty beat already. What are a few more scratches except a little more character? My whole kitchen setup is going to be ridiculous when I'm done anyway... an old kitchen with beat-up midrange cabinetry and counters, appliances that don't match, and a premium monster stove in the middle of it. Franken-kitchen all the way, but I don't care. We'll gut it in 5-8 years, keep the stove, and trash everything else. We own a two-flat and we're already gutting the upstairs this summer at great expense, so now's just not the time to do the first floor kitchen.

 

@gfweb - I agree that some cookware reconfiguration may be in order. There's a lot less need for cast iron's heat capacity if you can put 15-22K BTU's under a pan. Thinner carbon steel or stainless-lined copper would be more responsive. That will be interesting. I'm thinking a Matfer CS skillet or two would be good to have. 

 

@all - The griddle question is interesting. We don't own a proper big flat griddle at all right now. We rarely do big breakfasts or other dishes that want one, but once in a while it would be nice to have. When necessary, we use either our 12" Lodge CI skillet or a cheap 12" nonstick skillet for griddling and just batch food out. I've considered buying one of those inexpensive electric ones that folds up a bit for storage. Frankly, that just seems a whole lot easier than messing around with a double-burner stovetop griddle. But then I'd expect a *lot* more even heating from a BS too. Has anyone here tried it both ways? I like the idea of doing everything on the stovetop and saving a little on storage space, but I'm just not convinced it would really work much better. Plus it seems like grease draining would be a way bigger hassle/mess on the stovetop.

 

@DerekW - The low-tech, DIY nature of BlueStar is absolutely the biggest draw for me along with the blazing heat. I want my appliances dumb and electronics-free. We're working on getting the space set up with a better range hood and ventilation right now, and I wish I could buy a decent-performing hood with an analog knob control for the fan and a simple flip-switch for the lights. Sadly, those don't seem to exist in the consumer space if you want decent CFM. It's all electronic buttons and LED displays if not capacitive touch sensors and auto-speed adjustment to boot. I fully expect the hood we bought will fail in 5-8 years and it will be some dumb electronic part around the buttons or display that would cost most of the price of the hood to replace. I'm hoping the BlueStar itself will last considerably longer than that.

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On the self install, I did it as well.  It is helpful to have the gas pipe in the right location.  I had mine come up through the floor with a cutoff, that made it easier for me to get the flexible connector to fit in the channel in the back of the oven.  I think it would be difficult to have the gas supply come through the rear wall, unless it is extremely close to the floor.  I did not have any trouble moving the oven into place, though when I got it, the floor was linoleum, when we changed out the floor to lvt, didn't have any trouble sliding it back into place over that.  If you find it hard to move, you can always pick up some of those plastic sliders, then use a crowbar and two pieces of wood ( one under the stove to distribute the weight, and one under the crowbar to protect the floor, to lever up the oven to get the sliders in place - though it may take some fiddling to get the rear ones on or off if you have cabinets on both sides.  

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Thanks Barry. The old range is getting hauled off tomorrow along with other junk from the upstairs unit. I'll have a better sense of how the gas and electric hookups are positioned once it's out of there. I know we may have to hire a plumber/electrician to reroute them. Our stove sales guy suggested that the hookup positions had a little bit of wiggle room if necessary. 

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Simple hood: I went with a JennAir 30" 600CFM that I found at a reseller. You may see a pattern here with me....my kitchen was in the planning stages for a couple of years, I was looking out for the needed equipment that I wanted. The hood, new in box, $300. Regular price would have been well over $1200 even at a discount. Simple controls, no LED display. 2 position for lighting (I changed the the halogen bulbs to LED soon after installation) and 4 position fan. Noisy as hell on 3rd and 4th, but that's what we're looking for, right?

 

Stainless lined copper pans? Go for tinned, and be nice to them.

 

And grease draining on a griddle. If you're doing bacon bacon bacon maybe look for another way. But basic griddle use doesn't need a lot of grease catch.

 

Using heavy cast iron and heavy carbon steel implements is about containing the heat, regulating it. A heavy pan will hold the heat, a thinner (more responsive?) pan will not. A griddle put over a couple of burners will not be ready quick, it will need time to move the heat evenly to the better part of it. But once it's at the desired temp it will stay there with little fiddling.

 

 

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11 hours ago, Gayle28607 said:

I have had this Le Creuset griddle for at least a couple decades, always thinking that if I had my much desired gas stove that it would heat evenly - which it never has on the two cooktops it’s been used with up to now. I wonder if this one is in your collection, @CentralMA, and if so, how it works on your Blue Star? I can’t bring myself to get rid of the darn thing, but I do get tired of how unevenly it cooks homemade tortillas. And, at this point I’ve don’t even think of it when cooking up a big pancake batch or french toast because those have never been anything but a mess on it - parts burned and parts underdone.  I’ve always assumed it was my stove tops. But maybe it’s the griddle!

 

Wow. I hit the link and saw $250 for a slab of metal.

 

I have something similar, possibly Lodge? I've used it once on the cooktop, and let it heat on the two burners (front and back, 22K and 15K right side) for an extended time on lowest setting. Again, only once, but I got good results. Next time might be better.

 

I've been using a Weber branded two handled skillet (yeah, another thrift find...) that's fits over one burner. Again, leaving on lowest setting to evenly heat, then going for desired temp. I can only do 4 pancakes, or 4 arepas at a time. Such is life. 

 

https://grillpartsreplacement.com/products/weber-7421-gourmet-bbq-system-cast-iron-griddle-grate-for-22-5-inch-weber-charcoal-grills?currency=USD&variant=32509934567460&utm_medium=cpc&utm_source=google&utm_campaign=Google Shopping&gclid=Cj0KCQjw5auGBhDEARIsAFyNm9GsGDJEkfDZ7hfPjoTKxZd_94GkEoUQImlWYmBEpWjolzdJrpsN730aAtZlEALw_wcB#&gid=1&pid=1

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On 6/15/2021 at 9:12 PM, tppytel said:

I'm also looking ahead to replacing my old 14" flat-bottom wok with a mix of excitement and sorrow. My girlfriend (now wife of 20+ years) and I mail-ordered that wok from The Wok Shop back in college. Ah... the days of putting a check in an envelope. The wok is the oldest pan in our kitchen. But I've got to get a round-bottom wok to use those fancy new burners, right? Do Bluestar wokkers go with a 14" or 16"? Or even something bigger? Seems like the burners should handle a 16" (especially at 22K), which would be convenient when stir-frying for bigger groups though it probably doesn't leave much space on other burners. I could maybe do both a 14" and a 16" round. Storage space isn't that tight here.

 

I've been cooking on my Bluestar Platinum for about 5 years now, and about 90% of my cooking is in a wok.  I have woks from 12" to 18" but I do 90% of my cooking on either a 13" or 14" wok. It won't be a problem to keep a 16" wok very hot, but you will have interference issues with other burners which you won't be able to use.  I use the 18" mostly for steaming or boiling and only rarely for frying but again the limiting factor will interference with other burners - the Capitol wok burner is set off by itself to avoid this problem.

 

I enjoy cooking on my Bluestar, which has been a game changer over my old Viking, but it's not perfect. The issue for me isn't so much power - its sufficient - as the way the wok fits in the burner, and to a lesser extent the dispersed shape of the flame.

 

The burner basically engulfs the wok, which sits deep inside the burner, making it very, very difficult to move or toss the wok while you're cooking.  If you look at a more traditional chinese kitchen setup, the wok sits much more shallowly atop a thinner rim, so that there is much less friction between the wok and the stove, allowing you to toss much more easily - almost impossible on the Bluestar.  So the Bluestar can cook almost anything, but you won't be able to use traditional Chinese technique, and you'll have to toss the food by scooping it with a spatula, rather than using a ladle/spoon to help toss it with wok action.  This isn't the end of the world, but if Bluestar understood how people cook, this could be easily fixed by changing the design of the grate so that it could cradle the wok rather than allow it to sit inside.  Given Bluestar's lack of interest in improving the product, I've thought about trying to get a better grate forged myself, but haven't been able to put that together yet. 

 

A smaller problem with the burner, and one more difficult to fix, is that it would be better if all the heat were concentrated in the center of the wok, rather than dispersed in the star pattern.

 

It's pretty clear that the ability to cook in a wok on the Bluestar is just a happy coincidence, and they don't seem very interested in trying to understand Chinese cooking technique - they could sell a lot more of these to Chinese-Americans if they understood how people cook, but their marketing is much more oriented towards Food TV type celebrities, and the only Chinese cooking videos I've ever seen on their site are by people who don't really seem to know how to cook Chinese food.  Don't get me wrong, the Bluestar is still a very good choice for a Chinese cook, and will allow you to cook very good food in your home that the rest of the world can only eat in restaurants, but it could be much, much better with just a little effort if Bluestar cared to deal with these issues.

 

The Bluestar griddle is another example of this tone-deafness, and clearly designed by people who never used the product to cook actual food. It's total crap, and has long been in storage and maybe tossed out at some point without me missing it. It just doesn't work, and increases the risk of grease fire markedly since it doesn't have a proper grease trap.  Instead I use the largest De Buyer oval pan, which gives me an acceptable flat surface area, with less risk of fire, but still no grease trap so it needs to be drained manually (with spoon or by tipping) during cooking. Not really ideal.

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1 hour ago, weinoo said:

Curious as to why you didn’t go with Blue Star hood?

 

I considered it myself, but 30" hoods with the BlueStar logo start at $2000, can easily reach into $3, $4, $5K. 

 

When I located a NIB JennAir 30" 600CFM for the price I paid I did a little dance. And I don't like to dance....

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13 hours ago, CentralMA said:

Wow. I hit the link and saw $250 for a slab of metal.

 

I have something similar, possibly Lodge? I've used it once on the cooktop, and let it heat on the two burners (front and back, 22K and 15K right side) for an extended time on lowest setting. Again, only once, but I got good results. Next time might be better.

Yes, wow. You would think it might be good. And much like you, I don't like to pay full price retail. I don't remember what I paid for that, but given the time I know I bought it, I had to have gotten it for well under $100, still new, in box. No matter how long I preheat it on the two burners, the heat is still not even. I usually go for just below medium, with a (largely useless) 10 minute preheat period.

 

I may try it with a more extended warm up period at a lower temp soon, and see if that helps. I'm really liking making homemade tortillas with masa from Masienda. But up to now, I use the Le Creuset griddle for the tortillas knowing there is a huge cool spot between the burners no matter how long it is on, and I just live with it because there is so much room on it. But anything else (the pancakes and french toast I wanted it for) gets cooked in many batches, and I make them less and less these days anyway, as the kid is nearly grown. It's probably time to change my profile picture on eGullet!

 

But I thought the underlying issue for the uneven heating of the griddle, literally, might well be that I use a Kenmore Elite glass cooktop that came with the house, and those burners are a pain no matter how I'm cooking. One burner has a great simmer though, and another will heat a pot of water for pasta very nicely. So that's something!

 

I'm glad to know @CentralMA, that your Lodge or Lodge-like griddle might be a better product. Why this one is not will remain a mystery for now.

gayle28607

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8 hours ago, weinoo said:

Curious as to why you didn’t go with Blue Star hood?

I forget. Might've been price

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