Additional Range Features: Double Ovens
Most ranges have one oven cavity, but there are some that will provide a double-oven feature, allowing you to bake two different things at once. If you're a serious cook who frequently uses two ovens at the same time, a double-oven range can be a great option for your kitchen.
Oven Arrangements: Ranges with two ovens come in two varieties: side-by-side double ovens, or ovens stacked on top of each other. The former will typically result in an extra-wide range with six or eight burners, like the one pictured above. These types of ranges are offered by many high-end manufacturers. A stacked double-oven range (pictured below) is slimmer than side-by-side double ovens, fitting into typical 30-inch range openings. These ranges will typically be more affordable than their side-by-side counterparts, as they are offered by manufacturers with more mid-range price points.
Heat Sources: Double-oven ranges usually have one heat source, either electric or gas. Visit the opening slide of our range slide show to see a double-oven range with dual-fuel capabilities.
What was the biggest change you saw in kitchen appliances during the last decade?
Courtesy of GE
During the last decade, kitchen appliances have offered professional quality as well energy efficiency, like this Energy Star rated GE refrigerator.
Chef Holmes: Professional kitchens haven’t really changed. I know in the home, more people do want a professional kitchen, and I think that’s maybe because of the exposure of chefs and cooking shows on television.
Chef Selland: In the last decade more ranges with a lot more power became available. I think it’s great that a lot of restaurant-type appliances have been made for home use.
Chef Subido: I think the biggest improvement I saw was that more manufacturers started making energy-efficient appliances. It was good to see energy saving become a priority.
Verdict: From 2000 to 2010, kitchen appliances have offered more professional features and have become more efficient. Since we don’t foresee a dark ages of kitchen appliance innovation, expect these trends to continue.
Fagor Side-Opening Oven
With a left or right side-opening door and telescopic gliding racks, this 24-inch convection wall oven from Fagor America provides maximum access to the interior even in a small space. The Celeris preheat booster function raises the oven's temperature to 400 degrees in less than five minutes, helping to reduce overall cooking time. Fagor America
Additional Range Features
Sharp Insight Pro Microwave Drawer
The new generation of microwave drawers from Sharp come in the same sizes-24 and 30 inches wide-but have a larger interior capacity of 1.2 cubic feet, tall enough to hold a 20-ounce cup of coffee and wide enough for a 9x13-inch dish. Other new features include a beverage center for liquids and more automatic settings for different foods. The drawer can also keep food warm for up to 30 minutes. Sharp Electronics
What’s an underrated kitchen appliance feature or kitchen gadget?
Courtesy of Cuisinart
An immersion blender is one of Chef Holmes' favorite tools.
Chef Holmes: Something we use a lot is a stick or a wand, an immersion blender. Those are very handy. And those work for a quick puree or making sauces, and you can use them in a container and they wash off very easily.
Chef Matthews: A good vegetable peeler. A dull or bad peeler can be infuriating, but a good one keeps a simple job simple. Also, I'd like to see more people use cast-iron pans; I think they are great.
Courtesy of Oxo
Depending on your needs, you might want an inexpensive hand mandoline or a more professional style mandolin, like these ones from Oxo.
Chef Selland: A mandolin for slicing thin slices and fries. If you’re serious about cooking, its something you should have and use on a regular basis.
Chef Subido: The slicer on food processors like a Cuisinart. It’s an attachment but it typically comes with the pieces; when you buy a food processor, you usually get a grater and slicer attachment. Typically, the slicer often gets lost in a cabinet somewhere. But the slicer can be used to slice potatoes, for example, if you were making a scalloped potato. Also vegetables that are a little more on the firm side. I think the slicer can help cut down on prep time.
A classic KitchenAid mixer offers professional quality for residential kitchens.
Chef Vizethann: I really like using my KitchenAid mixer. One of the reasons I really like it is because it can be a commercial product, but it’s also really easy to use in the home as well. I use mine all the time.
Verdict: The right small appliances and cooking gadgets can make a big difference, even for professional chefs.
Get to Know the Many Benefits of Warming Drawers
Courtesy of Kenmore Pro
Warming drawers can keep food hot, warm dinnerware and proof breads.
You're in the middle of making a culinary masterpiece when you realize that not only have you run out of counter space, but you also need to keep the food warm until the guests arrive. What's a cook to do?
Most home chefs don't have a team of line cooks on multiple cooktops, so a warming drawer provides a place to store gastronomic delights between prep and serve. As the name implies, warming drawers are designed to keep hot food warm and moist (or crispy, as the case may be), not to actually cook the food. They're also ideal for warming dinnerware or proofing yeast-based breads.
Fueled by electricity, a warming drawer uses about a quarter of the power-from 450 to 600 watts-that an electric oven would typically draw to heat food. Most warming drawers have hidden controls; low, medium and high settings; a rack on which to place food; and a control or sensor to regulate humidity. Use the moist setting to keep your mashed potatoes perfectly moist; use the crisp setting to keep your French fries crispy. White, black, biscuit and stainless steel are the standard finish options.
For more money, you can add more bells and whistles on your warming drawer:
- A timer allowing you to keep dishes warm for up to four hours.
- Multiple warming pans and racks (These are often available as accessories.)
- A proof setting. This is between 75 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit; the low to high settings usually span from 135 degrees to around 230 degrees.
- Drawer fronts that accept custom wood panels to match your cabinets. Some manufacturers also offer designer colors.
Sizes: 24, 27, 30 or 36 inches wide. Most warming drawers fit into a standard kitchen cabinet space.
Price: From $600 to $1,700, with most in the $800 to $1,000 range
Vent Hoods and Downdraft Vents
Courtesy of Wolf
A chimney-style ventilation hood works well over islands without obstructing too much of the view.
No matter how fabulous your dishes taste, cooking them generates greasy, smoky, steamy, gaseous byproducts that you don't want hanging around your kitchen. Catch them with an updraft or a downdraft and send them totally out of your home or through a system that recirculates filtered air. Which system you choose will depend on the layout and structure of your kitchen, your local building codes, and your own style preferences.
You'll pay more for systems with higher airflow and lower noise ratings. That's where knowledge of CFMs and sones will come in handy. CFMs refer to the amount of cubic feet of air a vent system can move per minute. The National Kitchen and Bath Association recommends a 150 CFM minimum for all surface cooking appliances. Sones measure noise level. A refrigerator equals about 1 sone; ordinary conversation about 4; and a jet plane landing about 256. The Home Ventilating Institute recommends that kitchen vent fans should not be louder than 9 sones.
Your two basic options are an updraft ventilation hood or a downdraft vent.
Updraft vent hood
Located over a range or cooktop, a vent or range hood works in one of two ways: The polluted air rises, is pulled up by a fan, passes through filters, and is exhausted outdoors through a metal duct. Or a fan draws the polluted air through filters and then recirculates the cleaned air back into the kitchen.
- Can be used as a decorative element.
- Location over the range or cooktop is the most effective for removing air.
- Can be hard to keep clean.
- Recirculating hoods may clog up unless you change the filters regularly.
- The fans can be noisy.
Price: From $100 on up into the thousands.
Instead of being placed over the cooking area, a downdraft blower is built into a base cabinet. It exhausts air by pulling it down through vents placed on the sides and back of the cooktop. Or you can buy a separate blower with a vent that raises up behind the cooktop while you're cooking and then lowers out of view when you're done.
- Great for cleaning air around island cooktops where a hood wouldn't work.
- More subtle than an overhanging hood.
- Doesn't exhaust the steam from taller pots and pans very well.
- Won't catch anything that's not right by the vent.
Price: About $500.
Range Style: Slide-In Range
A slide-in range is a cross between a drop-in and freestanding range. Like a freestanding range, it has a bottom drawer for storage (or possibly for a broiler compartment). Like a drop-in range, the sides are not paneled and it's designed to sit in between cabinetry.
Slide-in ranges will not have a control panel that extends upwards from the back of the range, instead it will have a control panel on the front above the oven door (for an example, see the photo above). This helps excentuate the slide-in's streamlined look. This style range can be especially useful in a kitchen island setting where you wouldn't a range panel that rises higher than the countertop.
Slide-ins close the gaps between the range and the countertop. Slide-in ranges usually have the same price as drop-in ranges with similar features, but are more expensive than freestanding ranges with comparable features.
What type of cooktop do you use: gas or electric?
Courtesy of Wolf
For professional chefs, there's no substitute for a gas cooktop.
Chef Matthews: I like gas the best; I feel it gives me the most control, and I can use any old pot I have.
Chef Vizethann: Right now I have an electric stove. But gas is a little better because you get a direct flame. With gas, you can turn down the flame and your pan will get much cooler. But with an electric burner, even when you turn down the heat, it takes a while for it to actually cool down because the top is still hot.
Verdict: All our chefs preferred gas, even the one who currently wasn’t using it.