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MODERN KITCHENS

 
Upscale appliances, accessories give home chefs a professional edge

Model kitchens at The Great Indoors, above, show home chefs how they can incorporate professional-grade appliances and special features into their own designs.

The gourmet kitchen, once only seen on television shows or in high-end homes, is not so exclusive anymore. Upscale kitchen appliances that make preparing that delicate chocolate souffle a bit easier, are finding their way into the kitchens of a growing number of home cooks.

"The general public has become more culinary conscious thanks to all the food shows on television," said Deborah Costella, lead sales at Sur La Table (732-2706) at the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood. "If you want to learn how to make a Southern gumbo or a Southwest chicken quesadilla, all you have to do is watch TV any day of the week. The only problem is you may not have all the lovely appliances and tools the celebrity chefs are using."

Those chefs are preparing their dishes in commercial or gourmet kitchens defined by large sinks, spacious counters and cupboard spaces, walk-in pantries, and professional stoves, refrigerators and dishwashers with names like Sub-Zero, KitchenAid, Thermador, Viking, Dacor, DCS, Dynasty and Wolf.

Patrick Smith, appliance sales manager at The Great Indoors (949-6600) in Las Vegas, said these refrigerators and ovens are considered professional grade and built to take on bigger cooking jobs than similar appliances. They are heavier, built with a better grade stainless steel and weigh more because they are used more. And even though they might cost more, the investment goes a long way.




"A free-standing Viking refrigerator starts at $3,200 and built-ins cost more," said Smith. "The newer models have the freezer on the bottom instead of on the top, and come with French doors, which are two doors that swing in opposite direction. Other features might include what is called instant ice. If you use all the ice in your icemaker and need more right away, you have the option to select this feature that will give you a tray of ice quicker than what it normally takes to make a tray. These appliances are built to a higher standard."

Ovens begin at $3,000 and one of the more popular options is adding convection cooking.

"All stoves are either gas or electric," said Smith. "Adding convection means there is a fan that circulates the oven heat for a more even and quicker cook. It's different because you can put a pie in the oven next to a roast with onions and vegetables and the pie will not take on the flavor of onions or anything else."

Another unique oven feature is Sabbath mode. There are religions that prohibit turning an oven on or off during the Sabbath or other holy days. Since most modern ranges include a safety feature that automatically shuts the oven off after 12 consecutive hours of use, Sabbath mode overrides that shut-off, making it possible to keep cooked foods warm. This feature can be programmed in advance and eliminates tones and timer beeps or display icons and permits temperature adjustments. Sabbath mode also can be found on some refrigerators so there is no concern of directly turning on or off any lights, digital readouts, fans or alarms.

According to Smith, custom dishwashers have remained basically the same but are quieter because they are better insulated. Removable racks enable the homeowner to fit large sauce pans into the dishwasher and racks can be adjusted for tall glasses and other stemware.

"People are spending more time in their kitchens and they want the same products they see on television," he said. "There are others who decide to remain in their homes and remodel their kitchens. So once they decide to do the cabinets, they then decide they want new appliances. It makes perfect sense."

Once the new refrigerator and oven are in, it's time to accessorize. Costella said every modern kitchen should have one good set of knives including a chef's knife, paring knife, slicing knife, utility knife and serrated knife. A cutting board is important (built-in preferred), and Costella said most of her customers buy wood.

"Some people believe that knife marks in wooden boards lead to bacteria, but bacteria need air to breed and there is no oxygen in wood," she explained. "Besides, wood is better for your knives."

She also suggests a good set of cookware that conducts and distributes heat evenly and has handles that don't get hot.

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