Wolf Duel Fuel Range Review
February, 2015 Update: Our Wolf Duel Fuel Range (DF366) has now encountered an issue with the oven, in both convection and standard mode, where the unit cannot hold temperature and, in certain instances, cannot reach set temperature. A customer service call to Wolf / Sub Zero resulted in no solution (the call center is not equipped to help a technical owner troubleshoot his/her unit which is a major disappointment) .
I live by the rule that you don’t need fancy kitchen equipment to produce great food. I’m also a fierce believer in kitchen tools that have multiple uses (via Alton Brown’s mantra that single use tools don’t have a place in a home kitchen) and I cringe at expensive home cooking machines like the Sous Vide Supreme and gadgets like a mandolin or pizza stone. Of course, the three kitchen tools in the previous sentence all work and do their respective tasks well, but the question every home cook needs to ask (just like any good consumer) is: do I really need a particular tool to cook and eat well?
As an example, I turn to the many extraordinary home cooks in my family. Specifically, I remember my well traveled grandmother who prepared all of her food via an aged 1.5 foot by 1 foot maple cutting board and small plastic handled steak knife from Italy. She used the knife to dice, chop, and slice and pretty much utilized the “cut into your pan or pot” method of cooking (the cutting board was decorative). My mother, for example, has never owned a dishwasher, chef’s knife, Boos cutting board, All-Clad cookware, etc. and only recently converted over to using a Kitchen Aid Mixer for pizza dough. And let’s just say that the type of cuisine both women were/are producing would make even the fiercest food snob / “expert” salivate with envy.
It’s with a slightly guilty conscious, then, that I admit to owning a necessary, but highly gluttonous, kitchen product; namely, the gentrified industrial range (it’s insulated and will not catch on fire, so it’s not truly industrial or commercial). The product in question is the duel fuel 36 inch, 6 burner, Wolf range (model DF366, specifically). Yes, the monstrous cooking machine that contains enough stainless steel metal to sustain 2 or 3 southern Italian provinces (a crafty Calabrian would, for example, sell the metal from the stove and live a comfortable life via the profits; this is what my father thought when I showed him the unit).
Our Wolf stove was installed about two years ago and replaced a 25 year old four burner Thermador range top. Our old Thermador worked but it was reaching the end of its product lifecycle and it required that we light each burner (one of which didn’t work) with a match. When it came down to selecting a new stove we turned to the so-called high end brands like Wolf, Thermador, Viking, and a few other manufactures at the local “fancy appliance” shop (like a luxury car showroom without the exhaust fumes).Click here for my “Guide to Renovating Your Kitchen”
Prior to purchasing the range, I had done my research via third party rating organizations, online message boards and forums (see the GardenWeb Kitchen Forum for a great resource), and, of course, the product literature from each of the manufactures. However, and uncharacteristically, I made my choice based on design/aesthetics and, to a lesser extent, on performance. For example, I knew the Wolf Duel Fuel 36 inch range wasn’t going to boil water faster than our 25 year old range top and, most likely, require more maintenance and possibly have some sort of reliability issue down the road (Wolf model DF366 has more electronic wizardry than my Mazda3 station wagon) but I still lusted after the large hunk of metal. I wouldn’t necessarily say I made a poor choice when it came to selecting a new stove, but I certainly didn’t make the logical choice as there were plenty of smaller, and less expensive, 4 burner gas/convection type stoves on the market.
Wolf 36 inch Six burner Duel Fuel Range Review: Model DF366
In turn, I wanted to share some specific insight on my personal experience with a semi-industrial (insulated) “professional type” range with anyone considering the same type of product for their next kitchen renovation. Here are my unstructured thoughts on the $7,000+ Wolf 36 inch duel fuel range (6 burner set up):
- Aesthetically, the stove looks great and when all of the stainless steel, black enamel, and burners are cleaned and polished you’ll get goosebumps whenever you walk by it. The stove resembles an Audi sedan with conservative, yet elegant, lines. And from an build perspective, the unit is more in line with a fine watch than a box that heats things up. Note, I’ve experimented with a few stainless steel cleaners and polish and only one has worked well; that is, Wolf’s recommended “Signature” polish (which seems to be made specifically for Wolf).
- The stove is a royal pain in the butt to keep clean if you cook consistently. The stainless steel attracts smudges and scratches easily. The black enamel cook top requires daily soap and water to keep clean and if it’s not buffed with a clean cotton rag you will get annoyed by all of the smudges.
- The large, porcelain coated, grates are very heavy and difficult to move ,which is required when cleaning the black enamel surface. Further, the grates quickly turned gray due, I’m thinking, to our metal pots rubbing against the cast iron grates (this happened with our fancy Shaw’s Original porcelain sink as well – note to these two manufacturers when constructing items out of porcelain, please use the same material Italian porcelain tile is made out of as they are truly indestructible). To Wolf’s credit, when I called to complain they simply sent out new grates.
- The sealed burners have a grey, metal material, that quickly stained on our unit and I haven’t been able to remove the brown/black spots to date. This is annoying especially when the rest of the stove is clean.
- The burners themselves are of high quality and 5 out of the 6 burners are capable of producing 15,000 BTUs and all 6 burners have a simmer setting and 1 burner is capable of a melt feature with only 9,200 BTU.
- The auto ignite burners have worked flawlessly and are well engineered overall.
- The large oven takes an inordinary amount of time to reach temperature and it’s very loud during operation (including venting which happens for a prolonged period of time after the oven is turned off). We purchased a smaller Cadco convection oven and we end up using the unit more than the Wolf oven given the aforementioned issues. The noise and time to reach temperature are all, in my view, pretty big negat
- The oven has ten cooking modes but beyond the “convection” and “broil” modes I can’t differentiate between the remaining eight modes, including “roast” and “bake” (for example, if I want to bake a ham is it the same as roasting it – which mode do I use?).
- The pivoting electronic control panel is easy to use and does retract flush against the stainless front (a nice design feature which creates a very clean look when pushed closed).
- The adjustable oven racks are well made, yet they’re incredibly difficult to adjust vertically. The three racks are very wide and you need both hands to go from one position to another (don’t attempt to do this once your oven has reached temperature because once you open the oven door to perform the task you’ll lose heat because it takes such a long period of time to perform the task).
- The oven cavity has dual halogen lighting so there’s plenty of light to see your food. And the oven door construction, along with the oven insulation, is top notch. The oven size is also very nice and especially handy when it comes to baking larger quantities of cookies, pizzas, etc. (of course with a larger size comes a longer heating time, per above bullet).
So, there you have it, overall I like my fancy Wolf range. Would I buy a fancy range all over again if I had the choice today? The answer is most likely no, rather I would buy a higher end version of a standard 4 burner gas range from a company like GE or Bosch (problem is I wouldn’t get the same subjective warm and fuzzy feeling every time I walked by a GE Profile). However, and you know what, my pasta water would boil just as fast (somewhere a dead Calabrian relative is laughing at me and my range)!