Ranges get cooking with versatility and style
Despite the parade of restaurant-style, stainless-steel ranges on popular cooking shows, some things don’t change when it comes to picking the right model for your client. “When I look for a range for a client, my first consideration is its dimensions,” said Susan Serra, ckd, president and founder of Susan Serra Associates Inc. “The ‘fit’ is a critical issue in regard to proportion and balance in the design of the kitchen. Secondly, I look for performance, then comes style, and all else follows from there.”
However, reflecting the growing economic distress in the United States, both consumer demand and retailer offerings are slowly shifting away from what Paolo Bertazzoni, president and CEO of Bertazzoni, describes as “super luxury” to “accessible luxury.” And “The winners in this category are those brands that can offer emotion, coupled with better value,” he noted. Echoing this trend, purchases of larger ranges have slowed, with sales shifting to smaller, 24-in. and 30-in. units, which provide consumers with a more budget-friendly option when remodeling their kitchens.
RANGE OF PERFORMANCE
For cooking enthusiasts, a hot topic continues to be versatility. The best burners, noted Frank Downing, director of product design for Electrolux, offer a wide range of temperature settings for the ideal sear or saute. Gas ranges well-suited to at-home chefs are those that can go as high as 16,000 Btu for fast boiling yet maintain a simmer at 500 Btu. For preparing large meals, ranges equipped with an oven as roomy as 5.8 cu. ft. and several cooking modes ensure savory results. Another key factor to take into consideration is the amount of space available on the cooking surface to accommodate oversized pots and pans.
One rapidly emerging movement is the demand for energy efficiency, which has contributed to the rising popularity of induction cooktops, noted Downing. Offering faster cooking times than traditional gas cooktops, induction cooktops are more energy-efficient because they use a magnetic field to heat the pan directly. While the unfamiliarity of the technology may have been an obstacle in the past, “Consumers want a product that allows them to cook faster and more efficiently and safely,” Downing said. Professional chefs have also embraced induction cooking. Consequently, Downing predicts that it “will be integrated into more cooking products.”
But the biggest trend in ranges, even in lower- to mid-priced brands, relates to style, noted Serra. Consumers are looking for ranges with edgy new designs, a sleek, chiseled profile and a state-of-the-art control panel that radiates a feeling of luxury and enhances the appearance of the kitchen as a culinary retreat. Angled edges and heavy-duty stainless- steel knobs are also popular features.
Considered by many to be a standard finish (and not a fad), stainless steel remains a classic choice in ranges. But just as laundry pairs and other appliances have taken on bolder hues, colorful ranges, said Downing, will also find a place in homes as consumers become more adventurous and self-expressive. “Colored appliances are no longer intimidating,” added Serra. “Color is being used much more freely as homeowners enjoy a significant increase in confidence in making every selection in the kitchen, including appliances with color.”
(1) Bertazzoni expands its Heritage Series of gas ranges with 30-in. and 48-in. models in three authentic matte colors: black, burgundy (shown) and cream. The units sport bright chrome and brushed-stainless-steel detailing and offer six different burner sizes. Circle No. 205 (2) Electrolux’ Dual-Fuel Freestanding Range takes the work out of meal preparation with seven cooking modes and 10 cooking options, including the Perfect Turkey button for large holiday meals. The gas cooktop is versatile in its firepower, allowing at-home chefs to go from a roaring 16,000-Btu boil to a gentle 550-Btu simmer. Circle No. 206 (3) The counter-depth, pro-style, 48-in. dual-fuel Pro Harmony Range from Thermador coordinates seamlessly with standard-sized cabinets. The range’s three-in-one Star Burner is capable of producing 15,000 Btu for high-performance cooking and features a brass five-point, star-shaped design to ensure powerful heat distribution. The unit also includes the patented ExtraLow simmer, which electronically cycles the flame on and off. Circle No. 207 (4) Dacor’s commercial-inspired, stainless-steel Epicure 30-in. gas range is distinctive with its lllumina burner control knobs, which glow in “flame blue” when the range is on. Other features include high-performing SimmerSear Burners, two 14-in. continuous platform grates and four cooking modes. Circle No. 208 (5) Combining the benefits of induction technology with the convenience of a double oven, Kenmore Elite’s Free Standing Range features a full induction cooktop with four burners and electronic controls for precise temperature control. The burners measure 10 in., 8 in., 7 in. and 6 in. to accommodate a variety of pans. Circle No. 209