How Can I Decide on a Commercial-Style Range?
Question: "My husband and I have been saving for our kitchen remodel for a long time. We both love to cook and we want to buy a commercial-style range, but we can't decide on which one. We've never had anything more than a regular gas stove. We know we want a dual-fuel so we can get a convection oven and gas burners, but otherwise we're not sure how all the brands are different. Can you help us?"
Answer: If at all possible, try before you buy. You can test drive a new car-why not a new appliance, especially if it's going to cost as much? Many local showrooms give consumers the opportunity to see and touch cabinets and counters, but functional kitchens that are fully plumbed, fueled and available for cooking dinner are harder to find.
A number of appliance manufacturers have interactive showrooms around the country. They offer live demonstrations, fully functional vignettes and culinary classes. They're a great place to try a range, cooktop or oven you've been eyeing; have your questions answered by professional chefs, designers and installers; and learn firsthand what features are must-haves and which you can live without.
Dacor Showroom & Culinary Centers ( www.dacor.com; Atlanta, Ga., Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco)
Offerings vary by location but include product demonstrations, use and care workshops and cooking classes. Call ahead to make an appointment.
KitchenAid Experience Store ( www.kitchenaid.com, Greenville, Ohio)
Test major appliances and countertop appliances, see product demonstrations or attend a cooking class.
Sub-Zero/Wolf Living Kitchen Showrooms (www.wolfappliance.com; more than 30 locations, including Scottsdale, Ariz.; Denver, Colo.; South Norwalk, Conn.; Fla., (Orlando, Hollywood); Duluth, Ga.; Honolulu; Boise, Idaho; Glendale Heights, Ill.; Lenexa, Kan.; Milford, Mass.; Columbia, Md.; Auburn Hills, Mich.; Minnetonka, Mont.; St. Louis, Mo.; Charlotte, N.C.; Pine Brook, N.J.; N.Y. (Manhattan, Roslyn Heights, Syracuse, Latham, Cheektowaga); Ohio (Mason, Parma); Tigard, Ore.; Pa. (Philadelphia, Bridgeville); Carrollton, Texas; Salt Lake City, Utah; Richmond, Va.; and Seattle, Wa.)
The heart of each Living Kitchen is a demonstration studio where you can learn how to use and care for the company's appliances or watch skilled chefs in action. Each showroom sets its own schedule of events, most of which require reservations.
Viking Cooking Schools ( www.vikingcookingschool.com; Anchorage, Ala.; Kenai, Ark.; Atlanta, Ga.; Cleveland, Ohio; Glenview, Ill.; Fairfield, N.J.; Greenwood, Miss.; St. Louis, Mo.; Bridgehampton, New York, N.Y.; Philadelphia, Pa.; Memphis, Nashville, Tenn.; Dallas, Texas; Walnut Creek, Calif.)
The Viking Cooking Schools offer hands-on cooking classes and culinary demonstrations. Viking Test Drives and Outdoor Kitchen Test Drives (not available in all locations) demonstrate range and cooktop features as well as cookware and cutlery lines.