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Gas Range Advice, Please


MassWineGuy
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1 hour ago, Shelby said:

I have had this gas stove for probably....ugh.  I'm bad with time...but 3 or 4 years maybe 5.  General Electric.

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I, too, tried to find one without electronics, but it was impossible unless I wanted to spend more money than I wanted to.  I'm really happy with it.  It has five burners,  the two front big ones are  high boil burners.  The middle one is awesome--it comes with a griddle insert that you can see in the link.  I had to buy the grate that I'm showing separate, but I'm glad I did.  It's great for big pots or canning.

 

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I know it's just under $1000...I think it was a bit cheaper a few years ago, but times have changed as we all know.

 

I like that I can remove the grates and throw them in the dishwasher to get grease off.  

 

I hope I'm not jinxing myself by touting this lol.

 

edited to say that it's 30"

Quoting myself to say that my husband says it was around $700 when we bought it.....I wish it was that price now for you, but...like I said...sign of the times :( 

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On 10/19/2021 at 5:31 PM, MassWineGuy said:

When I bought it my Blue Star (not Viking, sorry) the company had recently taken over the consumer line from Viking. At least that’s how it was explained to me. 

 

It was Garland, not Viking. Bluestar's parent company (Prizer-Painter) made ranges for Garland, including Garland's consumer line. When Garland dropped out of the consumer market, Prizer kept making the ranges, and branded them Bluestar. They picked up some of Garland's design ideas, most notably the star burner, which is why Bluestar's burners are so much better than the ones on any other consumer range. 

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Notes from the underbelly

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Ranges are a pain in the ass. We just spent 2 months shopping for them, after a plumber convinced us that our old reliable 1980s Crapmaster was a ticking time bomb (all the gas pipes were corroding). 

 

We were hoping to spend under $2K. At this price point, everything is loaded with features (Air frying! Smart connected WiFi! 5 proprietary baking modes!) and motherboards that are doomed to die 5 minutes after the warranty is up. The closets things are some Chinese knockoffs of higher-end "pro-style" ranges ... Thor and NXR. But these have a bad reputation for reliability, and the guy who sold them even talked us out of them. 

 

We ended up spending a little over our budget on steeply discounted Dacor. It was a discontinued floor model. Made in USA, pretty solid, all analog knobs, no dumb features (except self-clean, which we'll avoid). This thing was about $3500 when new. I've only cooked on it a bit so far, and have to conclude that the target audience is wealthy people who like shiny things and who cook a little bit. 

 

It has a nice oven. It looks like a nice broiler ... will have to test it. But I just don't think that a range with sealed burners is a serious piece of equipment. I've cooked on dozens of different makes and models, this one included, and I'm convinced the sealed burner is a deeply flawed design that's not capable of heating evenly or working well with more than a narrow range of pan sizes. The Dacor is a poster child of this phenomenon. If you want to boil water in a 12" diameter stock pot, the 18K burners will be beasts. But if you put a sauté pan on it, even the one with the stacked rings, 90% of the heat is hitting the outer edge of the pan (or going into the room). And a small saucepan? Most of the fire will completely miss the target. It's just dumb.

 

Of course you can make anything work. I cooked some of my best meals on the old Crapmaster. But for this kind of money, you should at least be able to get the kinds of burners they put on commercial ranges that cost half as much. It irks me. 

 

From what I've learned, the last remaining home ranges with open burners are Bluestar, American Range, and Capital. They're all expensive. If I get a chance to build a kitchen that I'll stay in for a long time, I'll either find funds for a Bluestar, or go way downmarket to the $1k level. Some of the Frigidaire ranges looked pretty good (if you can get past the idea of buying something that makes fire being called frigidaire).

 

Of course by then open flame cooking might be banished entirely. It will be all about chasing the dream of commercial-power induction, and finding ways to get 3-phase 240 volt wiring into the kitchen, without selling the farm. Good times ahead!

 

 

Edited by paulraphael (log)
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Notes from the underbelly

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While I agree with Paul on many things, I'm not necessarily in agreement with this:

 

8 hours ago, paulraphael said:

I just don't think that a range with sealed burners is a serious piece of equipment.

 

Nor:

 

8 hours ago, paulraphael said:

If you want to boil water in a 12" diameter stock pot, the 18K burners will be beasts. But if you put a sauté pan on it, even the one with the stacked rings, 90% of the heat is hitting the outer edge of the pan (or going into the room). And a small saucepan? Most of the fire will completely miss the target. It's just dumb.

 

I think (or at least it appears as if I'm able to) if I turn down the flame, or use the small 9K BTU burner on back left,  all these problems are solved. YMMV of course.

 

I still do need to point out I'm cooking at home, 99.5% of the time for 2 people.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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25 minutes ago, MassWineGuy said:

Oops. So it is. 
 

Can a slide in and stand alone be used interchangeably?

Slide in models have "unfinished" sides because they are meant to slide in between cabinets so the sides are left that way because they won't be seen. If  the measurements are the same, then a stand alone can be put between the cabinets, but if there are no cabinets to go between, you probably won't want a slide in.

 

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1 hour ago, weinoo said:

I think (or at least it appears as if I'm able to) if I turn down the flame, or use the small 9K BTU burner on back left,  all these problems are solved. YMMV of course.

 

I still do need to point out I'm cooking at home, 99.5% of the time for 2 people.

 

Yes, using a small flame or a simmer burner works. But I'd call this a workaround. If I have 18K btu/hr burners, I'd like to use them to preheat a pan quickly, and to be able to keep up with evaporative heat loss when the food hits the metal. If I have to turn the flame down halfway, then I might as well be cooking on my old tenement range. That big donut of fire you get from the sealed burner is only able to deliver its promise in a narrow range of circumstances. 

 

A slightly more dramatic version of the problem: I was sauteing mushrooms in a 12" cast iron skillet on the 18K burner last night, and my side towel kept catching on fire. I've cooked on a 35K btu Wolf Commercial burner, and my towel was not bursting into flames right under my hand. Because the burners aim the flames up at the pan, not out at me. 

 

This guy does a pretty good demonstration. He's showing a Bluestar open burner vs. some version of Wolf domestic sealed burner. These Wolf burners appear to be slightly better than what I've got, but it's hard to know for sure from the video:

 

Edited to add: the stuff he says about simmering isn't really part of my argument and is more relevant to this particular model of Wolf burner (which I don't think is current). The stuff about heat distribution, though, applies to every sealed burner I've used.

Edited by paulraphael (log)
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On 10/19/2021 at 2:50 PM, MassWineGuy said:


Of these, is any better made than another? Or are they all cheap junk?

 

I think "cheap junk" might be going a bit far. Some of these cheaper ranges can work fine. My landlord from several years ago put in a Frigidaire range that worked fine—I used it to cook underground restaurant dinners, and did years of culinary experiments on it. It even had an oven that went to 550°F, which is rare, and made it almost possible to make decent pizza. It needed a minor repair once. Not counting the time I shattered the oven window (I wish there were no such thing as oven windows ... what a dumb idea). 

 

One of the sales guys at an appliance store confirmed the suspicion of many people here: the thing that fails is the logic board. Never mind that it's possible to have a reliable logic board in a fighter plane or space shuttle. The appliance companies seem to cheap out on this, and put as little engineering into it as possible. Cheap electronics + heat + moisture = gambling. 

 

I don't think the high-end, dirt-simple ranges are necessarily lower maintenance than the cheap stuff. Some of them need quite a bit of maintenance. The difference is that on the better ones, you can do it yourself. The Bluestar stuff comes apart like lego, and there's a youtube video for most fixes. You can do many of them without tools. You can take the whole thing apart with a philips screwdriver. And many of the parts are generic industrial things you can buy from anywhere. This is how you know something was actually designed like a commercial range (rather than just styled like one). You'd have to be a lot braver to try to fix a Samsung Connected Smart Oven. That's like doing DIY on a 300lb gas-powered iPhone.

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2 hours ago, paulraphael said:

 

Yes, using a small flame or a simmer burner works. But I'd call this a workaround. If I have 18K btu/hr burners, I'd like to use them to preheat a pan quickly, and to be able to keep up with evaporative heat loss when the food hits the metal. If I have to turn the flame down halfway, then I might as well be cooking on my old tenement range. That big donut of fire you get from the sealed burner is only able to deliver its promise in a narrow range of circumstances. 

 

A slightly more dramatic version of the problem: I was sauteing mushrooms in a 12" cast iron skillet on the 18K burner last night, and my side towel kept catching on fire. I've cooked on a 35K btu Wolf Commercial burner, and my towel was not bursting into flames right under my hand. Because the burners aim the flames up at the pan, not out at me. 

 

This guy does a pretty good demonstration. He's showing a Bluestar open burner vs. some version of Wolf domestic sealed burner. These Wolf burners appear to be slightly better than what I've got, but it's hard to know for sure from the video:

 

Edited to add: the stuff he says about simmering isn't really part of my argument and is more relevant to this particular model of Wolf burner (which I don't think is current). The stuff about heat distribution, though, applies to every sealed burner I've used.

 

Methinks you thinks to the point of overthinking things (sometimes). It's almost a solution looking for a problem. I've never caught anything on fire, neither here nor when I was cooking on a line. (Admittedly, you're a lot taller than me).

 

Anyway, the other 3 burners on my range are only 15K BTU's, so I refuse to self-immolate.  Also, the broiler works great, and the temp is spot on and consistently even in the oven, which are, of course, just a couple of other considerations.

 

And - it has red knobs and a matching hood.

 

 

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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23 minutes ago, weinoo said:

 

Methinks you thinks to the point of overthinking things (sometimes). It's almost a solution looking for a problem. I've never caught anything on fire, neither here nor when I was cooking on a line. (Admittedly, you're a lot taller than me).

 

Anyway, the other 3 burners on my range are only 15K BTU's, so I refuse to self-immolate.  Also, the broiler works great, and the temp is spot on and consistently even in the oven, which are, of course, just a couple of other considerations.

 

And - it has red knobs and a matching hood.

 

 

 

If not wanting my side towel to burst into flames means I'm overthinking, then you are a cooler cat than I. 

 

(This is not a towel draped rakishly over my shoulder, but the one on the pan handle that lets me pick it up)

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11 minutes ago, gfweb said:

 

I was going to get red knobs for mine but it was something like $50 each.

 

 

 

Mine came with the red - and then they sent stainless ones as a gift! (Or maybe they are blue - they're in storage, so who knows?)

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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2 hours ago, weinoo said:

 

Mine came with the red - and then they sent stainless ones as a gift! (Or maybe they are blue - they're in storage, so who knows?)

They sent my BlueStar with stainless knobs, I had ordered with black. 

They eventually sent the correct ones.

 

Anybody need stainless knobs for a 30" range?

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3 hours ago, MassWineGuy said:

So, can anyone make further suggestions for a stove?

 

Perhaps a used higher end one?  There are a lot on Ebay.

We bought our house with a Vulcan restaurant model in it. Huge beast but it was cheap apparently.

Restaurant ranges aren't insulated much so you cannot put them next to wooden cabinets etc. I wouldn't recommend that.

Edited by gfweb (log)
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16 hours ago, MassWineGuy said:

So, can anyone make further suggestions for a stove?

Would you consider something other than gas?

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