For many cooks, especially serious ones, having a range in the kitchen that can do almost everything a commercial range can do is high on the kitchen wish list. Not only do pro-style ranges offer the power and performance to meet all varieties of cooking needs, but they have a look and feel similar to restaurant equipment, which in itself adds to their appeal. . But with these ranges usually starting around three thousand dollars and sometimes costing as much as a new car, it’s worth taking a look at what features set them apart from a typical gas range.
Open burners and general burner designs
If you have ever had any experience using a commercial style range you will notice right away that the burners are set at the top of the range with cast iron grates that extend overtop. These recessed burner designs are considered open burners. Unlike a sealed burner, the flames from an open burner are allowed to project onto the surface of a pot or pan directly and evenly. This is because there are several gas ports positioned along the top of the burner.
Flames from a sealed burner are generated by gas supplied from a single gas port. A cap is placed over where the main flame is generated which then forces the flame out and through small slits and spaces to create individual flames.
Although some sealed burner designs may have the same BTU rating, some of the heat tends to be projected onto the sides of pots or pans especially when used at higher settings. Therefore, even though they may be releasing the same amount of heat, a portion may be heating the sides of a pot more than evenly along the bottom.
For those looking for an open burner style range, there are three companies that currently manufacture them for residential use. Capital Cooking has the open burner style range available in their Culinarian series. American Range has this style available in their Performer series and Bluestar Cooking also offers this style in their RCS and RNB series.
In terms of BTU ratings, the Capital Culinarian series has 23,000 BTU burners on each burner with each burner capable of reaching a true simmer at 145 degrees. The American Range Performer series and the Bluestar Platinum series boast the highest BTU ratings at 25,000 BTU’s. Burner configurations vary depending on which model is chosen but the American Range and Blustar ranges have burner options that give great simmer control as well.
Also, contrary to what many believe, ranges with open burners are quite easy to clean whenever there is a spill. Spill trays set on sliding racks under the burner area to catch anything that falls through the cracks making cleaning simple.
Another notable design is the star burner, which has been patented by the Thermador brand. With this design, the flame from the burner makes contact with the pot or pan evenly around the surface resulting in great temperature control. Their burners are also very versatile in temperature range with the hottest burners hitting at 22,000 BTU and the lowest simmering burners reaching a steady temp of 100 degrees. Star burners are sealed burners but unlike other sealed burner designs they are set like a pedestal which allows for easy cleaning around the base.
Pro-style oven features
For many consumers a lot of attention and care is placed on the details of the style, power and configurations of the burners to help finalize their purchase decision. This often leaves oven features in pro-thought style ranges behind. If you’re trying to make a decision between a regular gas range and a pro-style range, it helps to know the oven features that set them apart. In addition, it is also worth taking a look at the differences in the features of the oven among those in the pro-style category.
Increased oven capacity
Many serious chefs and culinary enthusiasts love being able to cook with a full-sized baking sheet. The luxury of cooking with a full size 18″ x 26″ sheet obviously adds volume and is helpful when entertaining multiple guests especially during the holidays. So if baking generous batches of cookies and cupcakes is important consider a 36” range. Also, both the Blustar and American Range are capable of fitting a full size commercial baking sheet in their 30” models. It should be noted however that they can be considerably hotter to the touch on the outer walls and oven doors due to the lack of insulation sacrificed for space.
Not only do pro-style ranges offer larger ovens, but they all also have the option to bake with convection. Convection ovens utilize a fan to circulate the heat which speeds up bake times and provides a more even distribution of heat throughout the oven.
The Thermador pro-grand offers a “true” convection oven which means they put a heating element behind the fan. With air drawn directly from a heat source, the oven’s circulation patterns are said to be more uniform than a regular convection style. True convection is sometimes also called European convection.
The American Range Heritage series features the patented innovative convection oven that uses two fans to circulate air from the oven cavity through the louvered side walls. This design has also been remembered to help maintain even heat distribution.
Infrared broiler burners
The majority of pro style ranges offer infrared broilers in their ovens to do any searing quickly. These burners can reach temperatures up to 1850 degrees. Not only do they heat up much faster than a typical element style burner, they direct the heat more evenly over the food. Most cooks know that using the infrared burner design is best for locking in juices and flavors with a quick sear.
The telescopic shelves make it easy to get in and out any large and heavy dishes such as hams or turkeys. Because they are set in ball bearings they easily glide in and out and eliminate the need to reach into the oven. Most brands have this option available on the bottom rack only while the Thermador has telescopic shelves at every rack level in the Pro-Grand series.
Eric lives in San Diego where he works as a salesman for Appliance Alley. He is also involved in the development of www.restaurantauctionslist.coma website that lists restaurant equipment auction schedules.