The problem with finding a replacement for an old range or other kitchen equipment is that one is faced with too many options. In many cases, functional features are so similar that the final decision could be a matter of aesthetics.
If you opt for the clean satiny look of stainless steel but don't want a bulky commercial facade, consider the new Professional Collection from Thermador. This contemporary stainless-steel ensemble of home kitchen appliances includes commercial gas cooktops, the Convection MicroThermal Oven that cooks in seven different modes from broil to convection to "micro-bake," a stainless-steel dishwasher with a stainless-steel tank, a warming drawer and a compactor.
The three stainless-steel gas cooktops provide a pure professional look with their heavy-duty grates and knobs. They're available in 36- or 48-inch models with four or six large-capacity, high-powered burners. Also included in each unit is a grill plus a convertible or permanent griddle with temperature control. The cooktops can be installed with Thermador's popular Cook 'N' Vent system, a hoodless retractable down-draft vent located at the back of the burners.
It's easy to become enamored of the Elmira Stove from Ontario, Canada, not just for its charming looks but for its convenient cooking features. The nostalgic design of this classic country range with almond porcelain enamel and shiny nickel trim goes back to 1906. Available in an electric model ($3,095) and just recently in gas ($3,495), the Elmira Stove features a built-in exhaust fan in its overhead storage cabinet and six square feet of porcelain stove top with either cast iron gas grates or electric solid elements.
The gas range has a pull-out broiler under the oven while the electric model, which has its broiler in the oven, has a large utensil drawer on roller slides below the oven. Remember the old pot storage compartment on the side of old ovens? The Elvira Stove has one.
In contrast to the old-fashioned free-standing stove, and one that's preferred in kitchens with modern styling, is a built-in cooktop flush with a countertop surface. The new cooktops offer the consumer mix and match elements. When it comes to versatility, Jenn-Air provides a number of cooking capabilities that can be slipped in and out of the cooktop: induction cooking elements, electric hobs and grilling units.
The grill-range model alone offers a number of cooking accessories in addition to its grill rack and grill rocks. There's a flat griddle unit for cooking bacon, sausage and hamburger, pancakes, grilled sandwiches and eggs, a wok accessory model that includes a plug-in coil element shaped to fit the wok, a cooker-steamer model that holds fish for poaching and a Rotiss-Kebab accessory that can be used as a rotisserie.
The latest model grill-range from Jenn-Air has a down-draft ventilation that can be ducted up to twice as far (up to 60 feet) as previous models. With the popularity of islands and larger open kitchen areas, Jenn-Air found a need for the long-duct capability as well as a larger blower motor in its down-draft cooktop to eliminate smoke and fumes.
The Ultimate Range
When it comes to the ultimate range owned by famous personalities in Europe and the United States, our final offering is the beautiful Le Chateau from La Cornue that has just arrived in L.A. The attraction comes from its bright enamel colors, glistening metal frames, doors with no visible screws, eye-catching towel bars and optional floral patterns. Handmade by master craftsmen in France, in a workshop at Courbevoie where they originated 85 years ago, this so-called Rolls-Royce of stoves can be customized to your liking, engraved with your own name.
The La Cornue line of ranges includes the Donjon built-in electric self-cleaning oven ($5,000), the Cornuline gas cooktop ($4,000), the Le Castel (from $7,500) gas and electric cooker and the top-of-the-line Le Chateaus (from $13,000). Also available are the customized hoods (from $5,000). The Le Chateau models 120 and 147 offer a combination of gas and electric ovens and burners, with gas grill barbecue broiler and refractory stones.
What's exciting about the French cooking equipment is that you may choose your own colors and fittings to match your house decor. The color range includes gray, black matte or glossy, pure white, ivory, red, French blue or Azulejo blue. For fittings, you have a choice of stainless steel, nickel-plated steel or bronze. Another unusual feature of Le Chateau is the hot plate in the middle of the cooktop, a sauce maker's dream. Perfect for slow simmering, the heating plate consists of two rings and a central disk.
The La Cornue cookers are available at Williams-Sonoma (Beverly Hills). The Thermador and Jenn-Air appliances are available at most appliance dealers.
The Elmira Stove is available at Anaheim Patio (Anaheim) and Marco Distributing (Van Nuys). For more information call Earl Staples at Esco sales, Modesto, (209) 575-3100.