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Kitchen Challenge Part 3: Rangefinder

The stove is the workhorse of the kitchen and one of the toughest choices to be made during renovation. I had my heart set on a semi-professional range for the reliability and high btus, so checked out both Wolf and Viking.

Wolf and Viking offered similar styling and functionality with ranges from 30-60 inches, gas or duel-fuel, self-cleaning ovens, similar burner configurations and oven functionality, so I thought the decision would come down to aesthetics.

And that's when I ran into trouble. While comparing the aesthetics of the Wolf and Viking ranges, I stumbled across the Blue Star.

Blue Star ranges are fairly new to the scene but have a storied history. Manufactured under the Blue Star name by Prizer-Painter Stoveworks, builders of residential and commercial stoves since 1880, Blue Star offers commercial-style open burner ranges ranges for home use. Open burners allow crumbs to fall through to a crumb tray for easy cleanup and offer easy access to burners parts for replacement and repair. Blue Star also offers a huge array of custom colors, trims and finishings around the same price point as Vikings and Wolfs.

I think the functionality and personalization make for a thrilling addition to the high-end range scene, offering the buyer a chance to create a real statement piece stove!

BUT, If you want to talk about real statement-piece stoves You've got to mention the La Cornue!

Hand-built in France, these stoves come in a dazzling array of sophisticated colors and offer European elan at the cost of the GDP of a small European nation (let's say Lichtenstein). These stoves are the stuff of kitchen fairy tale dreams and this is certainly the stove that Cinderella's evil stepmother never even let her touch with her grubby soot-covered hands.

I did take a walk down the La Cornue garden path seriously considering the La Cornue CornueFe 90 Albertine at the swoon-inducing price of $8,6000 until I found out That the hood alone (at $5000) costs almost as much as a Wolf or Viking range! It does come with a remote control but, other than that, I just couldn't see where that other $4,995 dollars was going!

In the end, I went with the Wolf for a few reasons. Although I loved all of the color options of the Blue Star and enjoyed my fantasy of the pistachio green La Cornue range with antique brass trim, Wolfs are known for their incredible reliability and all I really wanted is a stove I don't have to worry about. They're built right down the way in Madison, Wisconsin, offer a good warranty and great customer service and have really heavy grates and doors which should hold up to all my cooking! I opted for gas, rather than duel fuel in order to save a few thousand dollars and took advantage of a great Wolf and Sub Zero incentive, scoring $1000 off my purchase for buying both a Wolf range and Sub Zero fridge--almost enough to cover the taxes!

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