By Kathryn Weber
A professional range is a terrific investment, especially if you’re a hard-core home chef. It will also add value to your home
There's no doubt that cooking has been elevated from drudgery to art form. We've finally outgrown the boxed spaghetti kits and graduated to imported pasta and truffle oils. Now, is it time for your kitchen range to make the step up, too? Many cooks face this dilemma today.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Before plunking down
STYLE OR SUBSTANCE
Once you decide to go pro, the next step is deciding exactly what grade of professional appliance to buy. There's a wide range between professional ranges. Some merely look professional and offer more bells and whistles than standard kitchen appliances, while others could stand in at a restaurant. If you're a hard-core home chef who hosts big parties, entertains frequently and is the one person whose house everyone comes to for the holidays, a true professional range will be able to keep up with you, instead of the other way around.
Serious home chefs get more enjoyment -- and use -- out of professional appliances than homeowners who'd rather microwave takeout than whip up an omelet. Even if you enjoy cooking but don't do it regularly, a professional-style range might be a better, and more price-friendly, option than true professional grade.
COOKTOP VS. FREESTANDING
When shopping for professional kitchen appliances, you'll have the choice of a cook top and wall oven combination or a professional range. A free-standing range gives you more storage and doesn't take up precious wall space for the oven. Better still, many ranges have double ovens, letting you bake two items at a time but at different temperatures, and are often more economical than a cook top and wall oven combination.
To fit professional appliances into your kitchen means you'll need to accommodate their generous proportions. Professional ranges come in 30-, 48- and 60-inch sizes, so figure the width into your planning. Fortunately, such ovens will fit in the standard 24-inch cabinet depth. One nonstandard change will be required, though. A professional range needs professional ventilation and a larger hood. Your appliance professional will be able to size the hood to your range correctly.
Don't overlook cleaning in your quest for superior cooking. The joy of cooking will disappear if cleanup chores become excessive. Sealed burners, porcelain or stainless cooking surfaces and cast iron grates don't require as much spit and polish to keep them clean -- and they can handle extra use.
No matter how much you cook, buying a professional range might help you take your culinary skills to the next level, or make a true gourmand out of you. Either way, you'll be making a wise investment that you and your family can enjoy every day.
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