Features to Look for in Prosumer Appliances
What level of performance do you need for your kitchen appliances? Some appliances are really "just like the pros use," while others are more consumer-friendly. Here are seven questions to help you choose.
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Do you want to cook like a pro or just look like a pro? That's the essential question you should answer before investing in any professional-quality appliances for your kitchen, says designer Ken Dempsey, a 35-year kitchen veteran who owns NorthShore Kitchens Plus in Marblehead, Mass.
"I do a lot of pro-style refrigerators, ranges and ovens from companies such as Wolf and Sub-Zero. They have a bold, commercial look and are heavy duty. If you have the pocketbook and will use and love them, it's easy to make the decision to purchase," he says.
But for those who simply like the visual appeal or rarely pick up a sauté pan? "The pro brands make simpler versions of the same appliances in a more residential style, and there are loads of look-a-likes to consider," says Dempsey.
Before deciding whether you're in the "pro" or "show" market, narrow your choices by answering these seven questions, which are followed by advice from Dempsey and other kitchen design experts:
Do I want to sear, braise and fricassee or occasionally scramble some eggs?
"True chef-style cooking requires high heat, which means gas heat," says interior designer Sue Adams of Andover, Mass. While many retailers advertise a "professional" line of electric ranges, they just don't put out enough BTUs for flashing fish or searing meats. "You can't have a pro kitchen with an electric cooktop," she says.
Which statement best describes my attitude? A) I will try any recipe, however complicated, and particularly like to try ethnic specialties. B) If it's not ready in 15 minutes or less, forget it.
If you're going to spend quality time concocting complex dishes, Dempsey recommends a pro-quality range with a simmering feature. "Wolf has that down pat, better than any cooktop or range in the industry," he says. "It allows you to simmer a dish for hours without developing that burn taste or smell."
If you're not going to a lot of trouble preparing food, you're probably better off with a lesser quality range and a high-quality microwave, he says.
I entertain or have the whole family over for a big meal A) once a week B) once a month C) once a year.
"While it seems to be a voguish thing, you really don't need six burners on your cooktop unless you'll regularly have several chefs working madly over high heat," says Adams.
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