What's Fabulous: Bertazzoni
Not too big. But only as small as necessary. That's the dilemma for small city kitchens when it comes to choosing appliances. We need them to fit but we don't want to compromise performance, and certainly not beauty. Plus there's that matter of cost.
We've all seen, and maybe also lived with the tiny city kitchen equipped with a two-burner hotplate and a toaster oven. While it's possible to cook good meals on such modest equipment, we hope we don't have to. So if you're dreaming about having the perfect appliances no matter how small your galley, you'll want to know about Bertazzoni.
I discovered Bertazzoni at this year's Architectural Digest Home Design Show in NYC where every major appliance maker (minus GE and Maytag) had impressive displays of their latest ranges, refrigerators, cooktops, dishwashers, wine coolers -- even the kitchen sink. These companies really dominated the show, making it a perfect one-stop for anyone planning a kitchen renovation or an appliance upgrade.
I confess to having perpetual kitchen lust and as I walked the show's acreage at NYC's Pier 94, I lost interest in the furniture and decorative displays that filled most of the exhibit space. Because why look at fireplace inserts when I could be gazing at convection ovens? Among the dozen or so companies there, the standout for me was Bertazzoni.
There I met Valentina Bertazzoni, sixth generation in a family company that still makes its appliances in its factory in Guastalla, near Parma, Italy. She told me how the company was started by Francesco Bertazzoni, her great-great-great grandfather who made precision weighing machines for the local cheese industry (remember that Parmigiano-Reggiano comes from Parma).
In the ensuing decades, the company grew as it capitalized on Europe's emerging railroad engine technology, new mass production techniques from Italy's auto industry (think Fiat and Maserati), and changing consumers to become international specialists in cooking machines for the home cook -- machines that are both well engineered and simply gorgeous.
They are also priced notably less than Viking, Wolf, and Miele without giving up top performance or good looks.
Valentina is Bertazzoni's brand manager and she spoke with me about the company's design stewardship, proudly pointing out details like the signature brass caps on the burners, adding that Bertazzoni's design is "very Italian and reflects the emotion of our brand." Having traveled and cooked in Italy, this resonated with me as I think of no other cuisine as having quite the emotional connections of Italian cooking.
Small-Scaled But Big Performance
Bertazzoni only makes machines that cook and ventilate. No dishwashers. No refrigerators. No wine coolers. Within that focus, the company makes a large selection of appliances that are 30-inches wide, the size of most apartment ranges. But included among its full-sized ranges, ovens, range hoods, and cooktops, are also ones that are even smaller -- at 24-inches -- and better suited for many small urban kitchens.
Professional Series: 24-inch Range with a Gas Oven
With four burners, a gas oven, and gas infrared broiler, this stainless range is a mini-me version of the company's popular full-sized models. It has the same handsome styling, signature brass burner cap, and distinctive knobs, can fit a wok adaptor and simmer ring, and its burners can deliver a gentle simmer of 750 BTUs up to the full power of 18,000 BTUs.
Professional Series: 24-Inch Pro XV
A sleek stainless electric wall oven with a 2.1 cubic foot capacity, regular roasting and baking, and convection functions. This is a smaller version of Bertazzoni's popular 30-inch wall oven.
Professional Series: 24 Combi-Microwave
This oven wins for both its size and versatility. While its 1.34 cubic foot capacity might not fit a 20-pound turkey (and who in a tiny city kitchen makes one of those anyway), this multi-function stainless electric wall oven does it all:
-- Conventional cooking (baking and roasting)
-- Convection cooking
-- Broiler/electric grill
If you don't have room for a range, you could combine this multi-function wall oven with a small cooktop and check every box. Its manufacturer's suggest retail price is $1,699.
24-Inch Undermount Canopy Hood
This handsome, simple hood is a scaled down version of the company's main model. It can be retrofitted for recirculation for kitchens that can't do exterior venting (like many city kitchens, including mine).
The gas version has four burners, with up to a 13,000 BTU capacity, robust enough for a wok. The electric ceramic version has four cooking zones, two 6-inch and two that are 7-inch with 1800 watts.
Bertazzoni has a highly detailed website as well as a free iPad app (available on iTunes) that supplements what's on the site. The products are sold in about 1,000 retailers in the US and Canada. In the New York area these include PC Richards, AJ Madison, Curto's, Krup's, Gringer's, Elgot, and others. As when buying any appliances, check around for the best price because even the top brands can vary a lot. Remember to factor in taxes and delivery charges.
A small city kitchen can be made superbly functional by choosing appliances that don't sacrifice performance or beauty for size. Bertazzoni would be a smart place to start. Add a drawer dishwasher from Fisher & Paykel, a 24-inch Liebherr refrigerator, and a 15-inch wine fridge and you'd have a kitchen no McMansion could beat.
A girl can dream, can't I?