07 July 2009

I'd like to add some initials to my monogram

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.


  1. I think we're all the same -- we all have brands that we're loyal to, so we probably miss out on good and even better stuff because we're resistant to change or can't believe there's something better out there. Good for you for being open-minded enough to appreciate the GE range, and for not being a Wolf snob!! :-)

    Mmmmmm, naan bread!!!


  2. A snob? Me? Never! Hah!

    I've been promised that recipe for naan. Believe me, that recipe will end up in this space before too long. They were fantastic.

  3. sorry Paul but I am not convinced...I own a Wolf, have been to Madison and did the whole "deal shmeel" you are doing now and still spec Wolf 80% of the time, when budget allows..and GE Monogram is in same neighborhood..expensive. Most of us do not cook the way we really would need to in order to justify any of these high end machines but hey, I got a Wolf range in place of the fancy diamond in the second marriage go 'round...so I got a good deal either way:)

    I like GE for some appliances but think they have lots of room for improvement in areas of integrating appliances into streamlined design....i.e. their underctr ice machines, refs etc. And, their refrigeration does not hold a candle to SZ in my ever so humble opinion. But, I do like them and most especially the profile series for budget oriented jobs...but, I am the first to throw the appliance pkg under the bus when money gets tight these days because again, most of us do not need this much power...I certainly think I can cook my mac and cheese on prob a hot plate from target!! Just kidding!!!

  4. Cheryl,

    No one is more shocked to read that newly realized opinion about 48-pro ranges than me. Spend some time around one of these babies and you'll see what I mean. Great job on the Wolf in lieu of a diamond the second time around too. Brava!

  5. Here's something I've been wondering and it seems like this is a good time to ask. I know next to nothing about gas ranges but will be in the market for a good one in the next year or two. Is there any advantage to something like La Cornue or Lacanche as opposed to a Wolf or this new GE Monogram? Or is it that they just look cooler (according to me, anyway) Is there any difference between the French ranges and others outside of asthetics?

  6. hooray for the full extension gliding racks! That was one of the factors I chose the ZET1 (GE Monogram single wall oven).

    Did you get to play at all with an Advantium speed cook?

  7. Melody, there's an enormous difference, but it's like asking "what's better, a Mercedes or a Rolls Royce?" The answer is clearly the Rolls, but it costs four times as much money and require a lot of expensive maintainence. The same is true of ranges. A LaCornue will set you back $30,000 and it willl be made to order for you. You will never buy another range by the way. Wolf, Viking, Dacor and Monogram cost around $10K and will also last you a lifetime, but they will not be comparable to an exquisite French range.

  8. Rachele, we were playing around with one this morning. They are also pretty amazing macines.

  9. ok, that analogy says it all! thanks!

  10. I'm glad that made some sense. Just as with cars, appliances are tiered from economy models to grande deluxe models and there trade-offs and value propositions lost as you work your way down the market. The best way to handle it is to set yourself an informed appliance budget and then match a suite of appliances to your budget.

  11. I installed a Monogram 48 cooktop in my new kitchen 4 months ago and it has worked very good. I love the sturdiness of the whole construction, it looks and feels like it will outlast me by far.

    I tried a pretty neat trick with the simmer: place a cardboard plate over a simmering burner turned all the way down, then place a chocolate kiss on top of it. Watch how the heat melts the chocolate and yet lives the plate intact!

    The griddle is awesome, I have made everything I can think of on it. It keeps the temperature just perfect and is very easy to clean (finding a good enough spatula was quite the task, but that's a different story).

    I have been having issues with the grill though. When I put in on low, the central bricks start to make a "pop" sound, as if not enough gas gets to them. I'm calling GE today to figure out if there is an easy fix for that. The grill works just fine on the high setting.

  12. Thanks for your comment and I'm sure GE will talk you through whatever problems you're having with your cooktop.


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