OK kids, disclosure time. I came to Louisville with a brand loyalty to Sub-zero and Wolf that I considered to be set in stone. When discussions turned to the world of professional ranges, that discussion began and ended with Wolf so far as I was concerned. No one else out there had the chops. I'd always thought of Wolf's competitors as Johnny come latelys who were in it for the pose (Viking) or for the cash (everybody else).
Wolf had an authenticity to it I thought. Viking would do anything to get a sale, whether it was slapping their logo on a Chinese-made toaster or painting a pro range pink just because someone wanted it that way. Wolf on the other hand, made pro ranges the way they always had. They were clunky and heavy and expensive and they worked. They worked and they attracted a clientele I like to work with. People loyal to Wolf know to ask for it by name because they're savvy and sophisticated. People loyal to Viking saw an ad on HGTV and developed a loyalty because they weren't sophisticated and didn't know better. (Sorry if I'm stepping on toes, but it's true confession time.) Wolf people read The New Yorker. Viking people watch Fox News. And of course, I saw myself as a Wolf person (even if I can't afford one).
The rest of the brands showed up on my radar when I didn't have a budget for a Wolf. Had you asked me yesterday if I believed all the stuff I believed about Wolf because it was honestly born of my experience, I would have said yes, undoubtedly.
Ask me that same question now and you'll get the sheepish admission that I've been spewing back Wolf's marketing messages for the last ten years of my life. Man! I've always thought that I'm too smart to fall for that kind of stuff. Too smart by half! But alas, I was introduced to the GE Monogram Professional Range this afternoon and the experience has left me questioning everything else I "know" to be true.
Seriously, I came up here expecting to learn about induction cooking (and I did, but that's another topic entirely). I knew that GE Monogram had a new Pro 48, but I expected it to be an also ran at best. I couldn't have been more wrong. Let me say this as bluntly as I can: The GE Monogram 48" Professional Range is superior to the Wolf 48.
That thunderous CRACK you just heard was the sound of my paradigm shifting. The crunching sound you now hear is me eating a heaping plate of crow.
When you look over the appliance's specifications, it's obvious that the GE is larger and more powerful. But I got to spend some time with one today. I cooked on it at lunch and then again at dinner tonight. The hands-on experience of the thing is what sold me, as impressive as the specs are. It works like the fine instrument that it is. The controls are intuitive and easy to find. The burners fire up to full heat instantly and more importantly, they can hold a simmer. The ovens are huge and the racks have full-extension guides on them. We baked naans (that's an Indian flatbread) for lunch today and all I could see in my mind's eye was how fantastic my baguette recipe would be coming out of an oven like that. Wow.
GE spent six years developing this new Professional Line from scratch. It comes as a 30" a 36" and then the 48". The photo at the beginning of this post shows off a feature I never thought to ask for in a pro range. Let me show that shot again.
They are real caterer's trays in that oven. Those trays are generally 26" x 18" and unique to the world of pro-style ranges, they fit in a GE Monogram. No other supposedly professional-style range on the market can handle one. Not Viking, not Dacor, not Jade and not my formerly beloved Wolf. None of those brands has an oven cavity wide or deep enough to accommodate a basic to the point of omnipresence, professional baking sheet. Amazing.
GE spent a lot of time and a lot of money developing this range, and they seem to have thrown out just about every scrap of conventional wisdom there was about this category. Integrating cutting boards, putting handles on griddle covers, using the self-cleaning oven to clean not only the oven, but the oven racks, the grill cover and the burner covers too. They thought of everything and I am impressed.
The list of improvements and features goes on and on. So go to the website and check it out. GE Monogram's changed and improved in ways I wouldn't have guessed a couple of days ago. Anyone who's read anything I've written on this or any other topic knows I'm not a man who changes his mind very easily. I love finding new things, but once I have a loyalty it's set in stone. Until today that is. Good job GE, you made me a believer.