The Kitchen Considered: The Trophy Stove

Nothing strikes fear in the heart of a serial kitchen remodeler (me)
 than the purchase of high end appliances.  
And the most expensive appliance is undoubtedly the stove.

Americans are sort of obsessed with kitchen design
 and "Looker Cookers" from Europe,  can set you back $10,000 to $30,000, take 4 months or more to build and are next to impossible to have repaired in the why buy one?
And with so many other options available,
 what really should we be looking for?

The criteria seems to be mostly performance related 
but there is a bit of the "bourgeois" hanging around these stoves too!
I watched an episode of Iron Chef Masters 
where they prepared a three course meal in a dorm room
 with a microwave and a hot plate. 

So lets just say this shall we....great food doesn't necessarily have to be prepared on a behemoth monster with 6 ovens and enough stove top burners to cook for the marines. 

 Having said that....these stove are beautiful and come in dozens of colors such as pistachio and aubergine.  Die hard fans say that food tastes better when cooked in these ovens and they cook food faster as well.
 The Aga,  designed in 1922 has beautiful details as does the French made La Cornue.
The down side seems to be that the Aga has very small ovens and is an energy savers nightmare, as the oven pilot never turn off. It tends to make the kitchen warmer too, which may or may not be a problem.
The French La Cornufe is now being offered at Williams Sonoma.  It retails for $8,600 and requires a $1,300 dollar delivery....and then you have to hire a professional installer.  Ouch
I must say though, that the white stove above is just beautiful! 
And what a show stopper in the kitchen
The La Cornufe offers 3 burners at 12,000 BTU's and a single larger burner offering 17,500 BTU's.  Another feature is the ability to simmer at a low and steady 
600 to 6000 BTU's for unattended sauce reduction.  There is no glass in the oven doors on the Aga and La Cornufe which is supposed to allow for more even heat distribution. 

 The down side is have to open the door to view what you are cooking, so you have heat loss every time you need to take a peek at the pie!

Now getting back to America.  
The 48" dual fuel Thermadore,offers a whopping 22,000 BTU's on all burners. 

 Thermadore developed this star shaped burner which is supposed to allow more even heat distribution to the bottom of the pan surface.  
The stove top is fully sealed with a black enamel top as opposed to stainless which allows the cook easy clean up when a sauce boils over.

The star burner can be reduced to an extremely low heat as well, 375 BTU's, which is the lowest available on any range on the market.  
This 48" range sells for around $10,500 dollars.

Known to many chefs as "The King" of stoves is the wonderful Wolf stove
Wolf is now part of the Sub Zero family of appliances and has been a mainstay in the professional kitchen for decades.  The BTU's are similar to the others in this category.  But many feel this stove is overpriced compared to the other at around $11,500 dollars.

I do have to admit having a thing for those red knobs!
I also like the clean look of this range.

And my last American lovely is the Viking.  
Having owned one or two of these I can say that I really like Viking....however if you are looking for special features on these stoves they all "add" to the price. 
 Things like full extension oven racks and griddles, and dual fuel capabilities can jump up the overall price pretty quickly.  
This 36" dual fuel stove retails for around $5,500.

I looked at a few others in this category:
The DCS range used by Americas Test Kitchen Chefs
and the Bertazonni, which I purchased for another house.

So what to do?

Do I buy based on looks 
Do I buy strictly for performance?

any "Reviews" would be greatly appreciated


  1. Great post, I drool daily over all these stoves and my dream is a lovely big AGA but I emphasize the "dream" part. (we are looking for a 36", all propane) I have also looked at Blue Star and American Range but have seen and heard bad reviews for both.

    I scour Craigslist for a used Wolf or Viking but am nervous as we need to retrofit whatever we get for propane. I went to the appliance store and fell in love with the Electrolux E36GF76GPS and having grown up with Electrolux being such great brand its enticing.

    Then I found the IKEA Ptraktfull, amazing price and though, not as "cool" as the Wolf, its attractive and the reviews thus far seem very good.

    Can't wait to hear what others went with and your decision. This is my first range purchase and I am not much of a cook so its hard to justify $10k to bake dog cookies;-)

  2. Hi Kelly,

    I owned a Kitchenaid 30" dual fuel stainless steel range and just loved this machine! The only thing I would do differently next time is to buy the 36" model because it has different settings for the burners. The 30" model has 4 burners that all cook at 15000 BTU's and the low setting is more like a medium of conventional stove tops. I adjusted and learned to turn the burners on and off to regulate the temp and not burn things. The oven in this unit really shines. It made the most gorgeous roasted fowl! Everything (cakes, roasted veggies, beef and pork roasts) coming out of that oven was better than anything I have ever made before or since (my husband ended up with the Kitchenaid in our divorce, so alas, I no longer have the stove of my dreams). This range, when we bought it 5 years ago, cost $3600 plus delivery. It was cheaper than the Viking, Wolf, and Thermador, but at that time was rated the best dual fuel range by Comsumer Reports. I would recommend getting a dual fuel model, which ups the cost but ensures an evenly controlled oven with a true convection setting. There are models out there that offer the look and power on the stove top but have a gas oven, which is inferior. I am not sure what they cost these days, but I am guessing the price is probably pretty good in comparison.

    I hope this helps! Good luck in your endeavor.

  3. I would take any of the above. Just today,I told my Girl to "mention" to her Daddy that I need a new stove. ;)

  4. Hi Hannah, Anne and Mrs B!

    So far great comments!!!!!! I have never heard of the Husband ending up with the stove in a divorce but I hope you made out with something equally as good!

    I agree on the dual fuel. Dual fuel adds at least 1000 dollars to the overall cost but If you like to bake gas just doesn't cut it.

    By the way I did make a low ball offer on a Wolf on Craigs list and the guy just laughed at me...oh well!

  5. I used to drool over the AGA stoves at Expo. Remember that place? I like the Williams Sonoma options here. I always have to open the door of my ovens anyway, window or not. I love all of these. Who am I kidding!

  6. I'm a bad person to ask since I'm a sucker for the look of some of the more expensive brands. I also have a weakness for vintage reproduction stoves!

    Kat :)

  7. I nearly purchased a Viking but backed out after hearing from former owners of problems with the Vikings ... I think the Blue Stars are beautiful and they come in colors which is so nice but are all gas I believe . I shopped forever and found a 36" kitchenaid duel fuel which I am dying to use . It retails for $8500 and I got a floor model ( flawless) for $4500 which is insane , but have yet to try it since my house isn't even ready yet . I've seen amazing deals lately on the bigger commercial ranges lately.
    I so appreciated all the advice I got and hope I made the right choice . I have a architect Kitchenaid range and love the oven by far so that is why I was excited to get another kitchenaid and of course it looks great and has 5 burners too .
    Good luck choosing .

  8. For me AGA wins hands down..
    Would have to be RED too!
    Great informative post
    Seems like in the USA your have many options, spoilt for choice.
    Can't wait to see the finish results of your kitchen I know it will be wonderful.
    Have a great week

  9. I went through a similar search when we remodeled our kitchen last year. I really wanted the Aga, but as you said, it's just not that practical. In the end we settled on the Fratelli Onofori, which I can highly recommend. It is a similar look with a much lower price tag. The only downside is that it isn't self cleaning, but otherwise, I have no complaints. Thanks for sharing, liz

  10. Here's my 2cents! My friend who has amazing style built a beautiful home and installed an Aga. absolutely beautiful! She was transferred to China to live right after she built the home, so Im not sure she has used it much. I visited when she was in town last year, and the room was toasty warm from this unit. Not sure I would like that with our hot summers...But it is a beauty.
    I have a Viking, and I love it. Have owned it for 9 years. On the low setting can put chocolate in a pan and melt it to perfection. No stirring. No burning, ever.

  11. Hi Kelly!
    I absolutely LOVE this post. These ovens are all gorgeous :) Since I know you live here in SoCal, I checked out my BF Craig's listings in our area, and found some neat finds!!

    A Blue Aga in LA:

    This Antique Belgian stove (which would look amazing in your Ojai house! Seriously!)

    Anyways, happy hunting my friend. When we redid our kitchen this past year, I scored a double Dacor oven on CL for $700. Only a year old! It retails for over $6500 :) I had to drive about 4 hours to get it - but hey, thats what a deal is all about!!
    Enjoy the sun we have today!!

  12. Hi Kelly, I have a 30" Wolf range.It's a great stove for its size. Everything that comes out of the oven is great. But the oven was easily stained and never comes clean. I am now doing a remodel and want a larger range top. I am fascinated by the 48" Wolf with the french burner. But can't find anyone who has used one of these burners. You show that stove in your post but haven't any information about the french burner. I am putting my ovens in the pantry. I have double meile ovens and the fan runs 2 hours after I turn it off. They tell me this is normal........what do you think???
    Indiana Janet

  13. Thank you Lolo...I looked at both. The antique wood stove was amazing. I think that might be pushing it a bit...i might have to start doing my laundry in the creek banging my jeans on a wash board!

    Hi Janet. I actually did some research on that cool burner for the Wolf. I is so pans can be easily moved from hot to warm with out moving your pan to another burner. It is a commercial burner that is very common in restaurant kitchens. Not sure about the meile...I have only use the diswashers which are wonderful!

    xo kelley

  14. Hi Kelley,
    Wow, what a fun and informative post. We installed a Viking 36" dual cook stove in our kitchen in 2003 and have loved it. It did have 2 service calls this past year but they were semi-reasonable in the costs to repair so I was okay with that. I was interested to hear the problems with the European stoves since I have always loved the idea of an AGA or La Cornufe...not sure I could justify the cost and then worry that if it broke we'd be stuck.
    I'll be eager to hear what you decide. I know it will look wonderful.

  15. We are getting ready to do a kitchen remodel also. We will get a 48 inch in order to get 2 ovens - probably either a Viking or Wolf.
    So excited to see this post and read all the comments.

  16. Kelly,

    Really enjoyed this post...dreamy stoves! I own a 36" Dacor oven, big enough to cook two 15lb turkeys at once and a five burner Dacor gas cook top. Have had them four years and no problems! Made in USA too a big plus for me!

  17. Kelly, That is a hard one. I guess you would have to consider budget. After taking that into consideration choose within that price range, beauty and function.

  18. Wow, they are stunning! I wanted a white Viking more than anything but ended up with a GE Monogram Duel Fuel instead (thanks to requirements from our builder - buy GE or they wouldn't change my cabinet layout!). I was heartbroken but when I compared the two side by side, the salesperson pointed out all the functions that came included on the GE Monogram that was extra on the Viking (he said their Monogram line is GE's version of the Viking.). And I have to say I am THRILLED with my stove. I absolutely love it. As someone else pointed out, if you like to bake, you would want a duel fuel range for sure. As for the European ranges, you REALLY can't get them worked on here in the states? They's is crazy!! They are absolutely gorgeous but what do you do when something happens to it?

  19. My heart belongs to the European cookers. La Cornue, Lacanche, Molteni. I {heart} them. There was a Godin on e-bay that I drooled over for a while. My someday kitchen will probably have a Lacanche Sully in it. Looking forward to see what you end up with.

  20. Kelley- (Lolo & Adm) - I had a Dacor 30" range in our last home and loved it! I bake, so that electric oven/convection was the ticket. Lolo scored on her costs -even if it needs fix'n you are waaay ahead. Now have just a 36" cook top - chose it because of the design of the grates - they stand up away from the stainless top (no rubbing/scratching).
    Both of our purchases were floor models - save your $. And Dacor has the option of mixed metal details to pretty it up.
    Have fun with your search!

  21. My two cents.....
    figure out how much you cook (every night or just weekends?) and to what level (gourmet and baking too or reheat and simple stuff) and decide if the extra money and features and potential challenge of buying an expensive European trophy is worth it. Perhaps buying high-end American will be enough for your needs....

  22. My mom has an Aga and I've cooked on it quite a bit. I'm not so sure about the food tasting better (though my mom thinks it does) but it is definitely fun and beautiful to look at! The kitchen is definitely warmer, which is great in winter but not so great in summer, when a ceiling fan is a must. I also know she found an installer/repairer nearby, so I guess that might depend on where you live. She hasn't needed any repairs in the ten years she has ad it, though.

  23. Hi Kelly,
    This is Indiana Janet back again. After reading laxsupermom's comment about the LaCanche Sully I had to look it up. I have to admit I fell in love. Have you ever used one of these. Or do any of your readers out there know anything about them. Waiting to hear.

  24. Have had a 30 inch Viking for 18 yrs ..Gas Oven . It has needed 2 sets of igniters in the oven . Other than that no problems . THe oven has a moister heat then electric .. Great for cooking bread which we do a lot Hint for those who need to simmer or cook rice on low heat . We bought a diffuser cost $2 at camping store . It is a 9 inch diameter disk with wooden handle . drops temp just enough to simmer perfectly.. Gas cooktops are hot and even if manufacturers brag how low their burners go a diffuser is a simple solution to the challenge of getting a low temp from a gas burner.. Sits in with our chopping blocks as needed..

  25. we actually have a 30 inch black Viking Gas range and have had 8 services calls in 3 years... we were very unhappy with this range but the cabinets and counter tops were just put in around this range.... so we installed a gas AGA cooker on the other side of our kitchen.... all I can say is WOW what a difference.... we LOVE LOVE LOVE our AGA cooker.... we have not had a problem with it but we do have it serviced yearly( $200.00) from a guy that lives 55 miles away... they are very different ranges... but the AGA is better hands down in our home!

  26. we actually have a 30 inch black Viking Gas range and have had 8 services calls in 3 years... we were very unhappy with this range but the cabinets and counter tops were just put in around this range.... so we installed a gas AGA cooker on the other side of our kitchen.... all I can say is WOW what a difference.... we LOVE LOVE LOVE our AGA cooker.... we have not had a problem with it but we do have it serviced yearly( $200.00) from a guy that lives 55 miles away... they are very different ranges... but the AGA is better hands down in our home!

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