Capital Culinarian Range
The Capital Culinarian is the world’s best professional home range, offering the absolute highest level of performance and design
by Marcus Bloom | 31 October 2011
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Since the beginning of time, man has been dedicated to the art of creating culinary masterpieces. What exactly those culinary masterpieces are varies from culture to culture, whether it’s a beautifully prepared Pad Thai from Thailand, a slow-cooked Rendang from Indonesia or a mouth watering burger from your favorite burger joint right down the street. No matter what your cuisine of choice, the common thread among a vast majority of them is that they rely on power. They rely on a method that effectively delivers heat, whether its copious amounts of high heat or a gentle simmer of low heat.
Step into the kitchen of virtually any restaurant, and the range is the absolute single most important element, aside from the food itself and the one preparing it. The range is the backbone of the kitchen, allowing chefs to take what was once ordinary food and transform it into something magical… something extraordinary. I vehemently believe that food is the key to the soul, and it is, quite possibly, the true secret to happiness. There is simply nothing that creates a greater sense of fulfillment – a greater sense of joy – than a perfectly cooked meal.
It’s a truth that has, in many ways, governed my choices in the kitchen. In my never ending quest for culinary nirvana, I have analyzed and assessed absolutely every item I use with excruciating detail. But when it came time to select a new range, there was no other item in my kitchen that I devoted more time to studying and researching. Creating heat, and having the ability to control heat down to the finest detail, is, in my opinion, the single most important ability when cooking in the kitchen.
Studying ranges, I learned a tremendous amount about the principles of heat delivery –gas vs. electric, sealed vs. open burners, BTU ratings, etc. – and what I learned is that there is one range that has absolutely no equal in the home culinary world. That range is the Capital Culinarian, and it is without question the most ingeniously designed, superbly performing home range on the planet. Whether from a heat delivery standpoint, a design standpoint, a feature standpoint – there simply isn’t anything that begins to rival the brilliance of the Capital Culinarian.
You may be questioning my strong opinion of the Capital Culinarian so early on in the article, and rightly so. Granting title as the best home range on the planet is a bold claim, and for owners of Wolf, Viking, Bluestar, or any of the other professional home range manufacturers, one that’s immediately going to be brought into question. But the truth is what it is. Forget everything you’ve heard from your local appliance salesmen; forget the marketing claims made by other professional range manufacturers. I’m going to tell you point blank why the Capital Culinarian has no equal, and I’m going to tell you why from a purely objective standpoint. No agendas; no ulterior motives; just from someone that absolutely loves to cook, and wants the highest degree of performance and flexibility while doing so.
Before I go in-depth about the Capital Culinarian in particular, I wanted to mention briefly some of the key elements of ranges in general. When considering ranges, you’ll immediately be inundated with a variety of choices, with three of the most important being whether or not to opt for a gas range, whether or not to opt for sealed burners or open burners, and how many BTUs you’ll need.
For the first question, as to whether or not to opt for a gas range, the answer is unequivocally yes. The majority of professional chefs use gas ranges, with the key reason being that gas offers an exemplary level of heat control. Adjustments to the temperature are immediately transmitted to the cooking surface – something vital when cooking delicate food items – while gas is also significantly more effective at allowing fine tuning of low heat.
As to the second question – whether to opt for sealed burners or open burners – this is where you’ll note a significant amount of opinion, depending on the source. Look at the majority of professional home ranges, such as Wolf, Viking, etc. and talk to their corresponding sales associates, and you’ll be extolled with the virtues of a sealed burner system. In truth, sealed burners are inferior to open burners. Sealed burners were developed to make cleaning easier in the event of spills, but the trade-offs are uneven heat distribution and wasted heat being released into the kitchen. Because a range’s sole purpose is to deliver even heat distribution and allow fine tuning of the heat delivered, it’s a trade that anyone seeking a truly professional home range should be unwilling to make. That’s why virtually all commercial kitchens use ranges equipped with open burners. Open burners note significantly more even heat distribution, significantly less heat waste, and in truth, they’re still remarkably easy to clean and maintain in the event of spills (we’ll talk more about cleaning open burners later).
Lastly, as to how many BTUs to opt for, the answer is the more BTUs, the better. BTU, short for British Thermal Units, refers to the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of 1 pound of water 1 degree Fahrenheit. In the real world, this simply means the higher your range’s BTUs, the hotter your range can get. This is vital with any cooking methods requiring high heat, such as searing, wok cooking and blanching, and it also helps reduce cooking time across a variety of tasks. I’ll talk more about BTUs later, but if you’re worried you can have too many BTUs, don’t. It’s easy to turn down the heat on a burner when necessary, but adding BTUs is an impossible feat.
All of this leads to a singular conclusion: for those that demand the absolute highest level of performance in the kitchen, a gas range featuring open burners has no equal. Furthermore, the more power (BTUs) at your disposal, the better. Interestingly enough, this eliminates virtually all of the professional, commercial style home range manufacturers, save for two: Capital and Bluestar. And as you’re about to learn, when comparing Capital to Bluestar, Capital absolutely decimates Bluestar in every way, shape and form. Read on, and you’ll learn precisely why the Capital Culinarian has no equal.
Capital Culinarian Overview
There are some products that are difficult to define in terms of exactly how they fit into the market. Are they the best from a performance standpoint, are they the best from a design standpoint, are they the best at their price point, etc. Defining the Capital Culinarian range lineup is exactly the opposite. It’s the best. Period. It doesn’t matter what the question is, it is the best. Heat delivery and power, function, design – the Capital Culinarian simply has no equal.
Let’s talk heat delivery. From a performance standpoint, it’s the best professional home range on the market. Every burner on the Capital Culinarian boasts a searing 23,000 BTU open flame. Whether it’s the four burners on the smallest 30″ Culinarian all the way up to the maximum of eight burners on the 60″ Culinarian, every burner notes the same incredible heat output of 23,000 BTUs – higher than any other home range available. Even more impressive, however, is that every burner, despite being the highest powered home burners on the market, also features the ability to simmer down to 138 degrees – low enough to simmer chocolate directly in the pan, without a double boiler. They’re quite simply the most advanced burners you’ll find, anywhere, on any home range.
From a functionality standpoint, the Capital Culinarian again has no equal, offering an incredible range of options for the home chef. On the top cooking surface, options available (starting with the 36″ model) include the aforementioned high powered burners, the industry’s highest powered range-top grill, and the industry’s highest powered thermostatically controlled range-top griddle. There’s also an optional wok ring, making cooking with a wok an absolute joy. Matching the Culinarian range top’s incredible functionality, the Culinarian self-clean oven models note an equally impressive feature range, with oven options available including bake, broil, convection bake, convection broil, open-door broil and self-clean. Better still, all self-clean Culinarian ranges include a motorized rotisserie, offering both standard rotisserie and convection rotisserie options. Quite simply, there are virtually no methods of cooking the Capital Culinarian isn’t capable of performing with pure brilliance.
Lastly, and just as importantly, there’s the design. The Capital Culinarian is, in no simpler terms, a masterpiece of engineering. Every weld, every contour, every detail is absolutely flawless. Burner grates are perfectly flush, allowing easy movement of pans throughout the cooking area. Knob markings are etched, meaning they won’t fade over time. Easy glide rip trays make cleanup a breeze. Oven racks are on rollers, offering significantly easier movement of heavy items. It’s clear that Capital’s engineers have paid meticulous attention to absolutely every element of the Culinarian down to the most minute detail, both from a style and usability standpoint. I’ve analyzed every element of my own Culinarian, and to be honest, I’ve yet to find fault with it. It’s absolutely fantastic.
You may be wondering which Capital Culinarian I opted for, and as you’ll see in the photo gallery, I splurged, opting for the largest range available: the 60″ Capital Culinarian CGSR604GB2, which features six burners, a grill and a griddle option. From here, I’m going to take a slightly more in-depth look at the Capital Culinarian’s features, and compare it to some of the other professional style ranges on the market.
Capital Culinarian Burners
If there is one singular element that sold me on the Capital Culinarian, it would have to be the burners. The Culinarian’s burners, whether from a power, versatility and heat distribution standpoint, are unmatched by anything else available, bar none. Firstly, they’re the most powerful, with every burner on every Capital Culinarian rated at 23,000 BTUs/hr. But just as importantly, they offer absolutely precise fine-tuning, with every burner also boasting true simmering functionality, down to 138 degrees – low enough for the most delicate sauces, and low enough to melt chocolate directly in the pan, without a double boiler. In terms of heat distribution, the Culinarian’s open burner design does an incredibly good job at distributing heat evenly across the bottom of the entire pan, with no hot spots around the edges, as is typical with all sealed burners. Simply put, they’re best residential range burners, anywhere.
For the sake of comparison, BlueStar ranges are the only competition that comes close, offering 22,000 BTUs/hr in their RNB models, but there are two key, monumental differences. Number one, BlueStar ranges offer only two 22,000 BTU burners, irregardless of range size. All other burners are rated at 15,000 BTUs – equivalent to that of virtually all other standard ranges. Secondly, and even more detrimental to the BlueStar, in order to achieve a true simmer, you have to use a dedicated simmer burner. Not only do you need to give up space for the simmer burner, you’re also limited to one simmer burner per range. From here, competition drops off significantly, with Viking offering one optional 18,500 BTU burner on select ranges (the rest are 15,000 BTUs), Wolf offering exclusively 16,000 BTU burners, and other range manufactures all coming in well below the 20,000 BTU mark. You simply won’t find anything that can come close to the performance and flexibility offered by the Capital Culinarian.
As much as I love the power of the Culinarian’s burners, I’m equally enamored with the burners’ construction. The burner grates and the burners themselves are solid cast iron – heavy enough to withstand the Apocalypse – and incredibly easy to clean when necessary. Simply scrub with soap and warm water, turn on the burner for about 10 minutes to dry, and you’re done. And while we’re on the topic of cleaning, each burner features a stainless steel drip tray that’s easily removable (and cleanable), whereas additional EZ-Glide slide-out drip trays (that are both fully extendable and removable) offer a secondary level of protection from spills and make cleanup a breeze.
Another element I love is the perfectly flat cooking area created by the Culinarian’s cast iron grates, meaning it’s simple to slide pots and pans from one burner to another. For wok cooking, an optional wok ring is available, allowing you to replace any of the individual burner grates with the wok ring. When in place, the wok ring not only holds your wok with remarkable security, it also channels the heat directly to the bottom of the wok, eliminating hot handles and wasted heat. Lastly, other features worth noting include individual point ignition (so if one ignitor fails, other burners aren’t affected) as well as auto ignition and re-ignition.
As I already noted, if you have to pick one reason the Capital Culinarian supersedes all others, it’s the burners. There’s simply no other range that offers the performance and capability of the Culinarian’s 23,000 BTUs – it’s truly in a league of its own.
Capital Culinarian Grill and Griddle
When selecting a Capital Culinarian, your range-top options vary based on the size of the range you select. On the 36″ Culinarian model, you can opt for either a 12″ grill or 12″ griddle, whereas the 48″ and 60″ ranges offers the ability to add either a 12″ grill or 12″ griddle, a 24″ grill or 24″ griddle, or a 12″ grill and 12″ gridlle combo. On my 60″ Culinarian range, I opted for a six-burner, 12″ grill and 12″ griddle combination, and I’ve been ecstatic with my choice. The flexibility of both the grill and griddle allows me to cook virtually everything, and for anyone considering either a 48″ or 60″ Culinarian, I highly recommend both.
Looking at the grill and griddle independently, the Culinarian’s 12″ grill notes a remarkable 18,000 BTUs, outperforming every other range on the planet and rivaling the performance of many outdoor grills. To create even heat distribution across the entire grill surface, Capital utilized hybrid radiants with ceramic rods encased in stainless steel, topped off with incredibly heavy duty cast iron grill grates that are reversible. On one side, grooves in the cast iron funnel drippings into the grill’s drip tray and disposal area, whereas the other side offers wider, non-grooved grates, perfect for more delicate items such as seafood. The end result is indoor grilling that can by all standards replace traditional outdoor grilling, and makes grilling meats, vegetables, or anything else you enjoy grilling possible from the comfort of your own kitchen.
As for the 12″ griddle, it shares the same 18,000 BTU output found in the grill, and is thermostatically adjustable from 150 – 550 degrees. Constructed from 3/8″ thick stainless steel, the Culinarian’s griddle has too many uses to list. Breakfast, of course is a given: eggs, pancakes, bacon… you get the idea. For lunch and dinner, I love it for cheese steaks; I love it to fry mushrooms and onions to pair with grilled items; and something I’ve come to learn quickly, at its lowest setting, you can use it as a warming surface, keeping pots and pans warm as you prepare other dishes. If you, like me, love breakfast in a cozy diner, you’ll love the griddle, and using it as a warming plate just adds to its functionality. Not surprisingly, the 24″ grill and griddle share virtually all the same attributes as their 12″ counterparts, save for the fact they each note 30,000 BTU gas burners in addition to their wider size.
And on a design note, another fantastic feature that relates to both the grill and griddle is the fact that Capital includes a beautifully designed cover for both, so in the event you want to cover either when not in use, you can do so in a way that blends gorgeously with the rest of the Culinarian’s already stunning design. The handles match perfectly to those found on the EZ-Glide slide-out drip tray, and the overall look is perfectly seamless and gorgeous when in place.
Capital Culinarian Oven
As is the case with the rest of the Capital Culinarian, the oven again sets a new precedent in terms of the capabilities it offers for home use. Ingeniously, Capital chose to include the oven size found on their 36″ range (4.6 Cu Ft.) in the 48″ and 60″ ranges as well, with the main oven noting 30,000 BTUs of heating power along with an 18,000 BTU infrared broiler. On the 48″ Culinarian, the secondary oven is 2.1 Cu Ft. and 15,000 BTUs, and on the 60″ Culinarian, the secondary oven is 3.1 Cu Ft. and 22,000 BTUs.
There are two key reasons Capital’s uniform main oven size and variable secondary oven sizes works so well. Firstly, by offering a larger primary oven, there’s a tremendous amount of space available when cooking larger items, including the ability to use full size baking sheets. Ask my wife, and she’ll tell you the same thing: it really is a baker’s dream. On the other end of the spectrum, in the event you need to bake smaller items or side dishes, the smaller secondary oven is a superb benefit, as it heats up more quickly, thus reducing the time you spend in the kitchen. In my opinion, Capital’s choice of variable oven sizing, especially on the 60″ Culinarian, is far superior to conventional split oven designs where both ovens are equally sized (i.e., BlueStar, Wolf, Viking, etc.).
From a functional standpoint, the Culinarian oven notes bake, broil, convection bake, convection broil, open-door broil and self-clean options, as well as both rotisserie and convection rotisserie modes. Part of the benefit of the larger oven size was that it gave Capital the ability to incorporate a motorized rotisserie system, allowing perfectly prepared whole chickens and turkeys, rack of lamb, cuts of pork and beef, or any other meats you can think of, all of which taste absolutely perfect and are superbly simple to create. A whole chicken takes quite literally an hour, and it’s ready to serve. It’s incredible how good meat prepared on the rotisserie tastes, and no other professional home ranges have one. Another much welcomed feature is the addition of Flex-Roll oven racks, which creates a tremendously smooth sliding action when moving the oven racks in and out, especially with heavier items. There’s a total of five oven rack positions for the Flex-Roll system, and three racks per oven.
Performance wise, I’ve just taken delivery of my Capital Culinarian, so I’m going to save a detailed look at using the Capital Culinarian for another article, but I will say the main oven heats up remarkably fast – it takes less than 10 minutes to reach 350 degrees. While I haven’t tested other manufacturers myself, online figures note the oven in the 60″ BlueStar takes over 16 minutes to reach 350 degrees, despite its smaller size. It’s just another testament to the incredible performance prowess of the Capital Culinarian, and one of the many reasons the Culinarian is unrivaled by anyone in the industry.
Capital Culinarian Design
You’d think that in a range that absolutely redefines the standards of professional cooking in the home, there has to be at least one flaw in its armor. Considering its incredible performance, surely Capital must have overlooked some element of its design. But they haven’t. It’s a masterpiece of engineering, down to the finest detail. There’s a quote by Walt Disney, where he stated: ”You don’t build it for yourself. You know what the people want, and you build it for them.” And that’s exactly what Capital has done. They understand the fact that people want the absolute highest level of performance – performance capable of rivaling that of a commercial range – but they don’t actually want a commercial range. Commercial ranges are ugly and their fit and finish are terrible, neither of which is surprising, really, considering they’re not meant to be looked at, they’re meant to be used.
A professional home range, however, is an entirely different animal. They’re meant to be used, but they also serve as the focal point of a kitchen. So as much as people want commercial level performance from a professional home range, they also want an equal amount of attention paid to its design. In this regard, it’s clear (yet again) the Culinarian sets a new benchmark for design.
The Capital Culinarian is, in no simpler terms, stunning. Every detail, every weld, is absolutely flawless. I don’t want to say the Culinarian looks residential, because I don’t want to diminish its beauty and imply that it looks like other lesser ranges. But at the same time, it’s not commercial either. There are no sharp edges, there are no elements that appear unfinished, there are no pieces that fit poorly. Instead, it manages to find the perfect balance between residential and commercial. It’s a design that doesn’t hide the incredible amount of performance at your disposal, but at the same time it’s a design that still perfectly exemplifies what the focal point of your kitchen should look like.
On the top of the range, for example, the stainless area that surrounds the burners, including the edges, is welded and polished, creating a completely uniform surface area with no seams or gaps. The same is true on the oven doors, and even on the lower kick plate – everything looks like a singular, sculpted block of stainless steel. Throughout the Culinarian, chrome accents on the control knobs, drip tray handles, grill/griddle covers and the edges of the oven handles provide beautiful contrast to the stainless steel construction. Large oven windows with a bevelled surround not only look gorgeous, they give an enhanced view inside the oven while baking. As I already noted, you can quite literally go over every piece of the Culinarian, and you’ll immediately see that each part has been thought out and beautifully finished.
Compared to other professional home ranges, I can say without question the Capital Culinarian notes an attention to detail unrivaled by anyone. And as I learned when researching ranges in person, when you compare it to BlueStar, the design gap is even greater. The BlueStar is, quite literally, the polar opposite of the Culinarian. Whereas everything on the Culinarian is precise, everything on the BlueStar looks unfinished. Sharp edges, uneven finishes, poorly fitting grates and uneven gaps in the panels were some of the problems plaguing the BlueStar, none of which are present on the Culinarian. Going back to what I said earlier, I think that’s the key difference between Capital and BlueStar (as well as every other range manufacturer): they know what customers want, and they build it. Customers don’t want to have to choose between performance or design, they want both. And that’s precisely what the Capital Culinarian gives them: the absolute highest level of performance, wrapped in a gorgeously designed, exquisitely crafted design.
The History of Capital
In understanding what makes the Capital Culinarian so remarkable, one look at the history of Capital, and you’ll immediately understand why the Culinarian sets such a precedent in the professional home range market. In, truth, the story of Capital begins not with the history of a company, but rather the history of a single individual. His name is Surjit Kalsi, and he is to home cooking what Michael Jordan was to the NBA; what Michael Jackson was to music; or what Steve Jobs was to the tech industry. He’s a legend, a revolutionary, an innovator. In no simpler terms, he’s taken the idea of cooking at home, and he’s elevated it to another stratosphere.
Surjit’s incredible journey began over 50 years ago, and it reads like the script from a Hollywood movie. The story begins in 1956, following Surjit’s graduation from Bombay University in India. After moving to London and working as a lab technician in the R&D department of Main Gas Appliance Company, Surjit created the world’s first dual flow gas burner, self-cleaning gas oven, universal burner, and electric ignition system – helping catapult him up the corporate ladder and become member of the Board in record time. From there, Surjit followed his dreams of making his own mark on the cooking world, moving back to India to launch his own gas appliance company. Ultimately, the timing was off, as shortages of raw materials and economic instability plagued the company, leading Surjit to make the decision to move to the U.S. after a decade of running his own company in India.
Surjit moved himself and his family to Baltimore, where he took a job as a design engineer for a commercial appliance manufacturer for a mere $20,000 a year. Knowing he couldn’t bring his dreams of changing the cooking world in his current position, Surjit continued to stay focused on his ultimate goal, working his way to Los Angeles in just under five years, where he became Vice President of Engineering & Research & Development for U.S. Range. It was this move that would play an integral role in shaping Surjit’s future, as it was here Surjit met an individual by the name of Fred Carl. Carl came to Surjit seeking someone to help him create a commercial style range for home use – a goal that up until now, no other manufacturers had been able to accomplish – and Surjit immediately jumped at the chance. In 1986, Surjit’s work was completed, and Viking Ranges was born.
Not content merely creating the world’s first commercial style home range, Surjit again branched out, leaving U.S. Range in 1988 and taking several other employees with him – specifically, Roberto Bernal, an engineer; Raul Chita, purchasing manager; Porfirio Guzman, production scheduler; Rafael Romero, a project engineer; and Alejandro Bernal, a plant and production engineer. Together, they formed Dynamic Cooking Systems (more commonly known as DCS), a company that would become not only one of the world’s leading manufacturer’s of professional quality gas ranges for the home, but also the world’s first company to create an all stainless steel barbecue. Needless to say, DCS noted tremendous success, becoming the preferred original equipment manufacturer for numerous private labeled industry leaders including GE, Jennair, Thermador, William Sonoma and racking up over $100 million in sales over the next 12 years.
It was during this time that Surjit’s son, Rich Kalsi, joined DCS, and it was also this time during which Surjit made Roberto Bernal and another engineer his equal partners, with each owning 1/3rd of DCS shares. As with all good stories, however, things took a twist for Surjit, as during the peak of DCS’s success, his partners voted to sell the company without his consent, not only forcing him to give up the company, but also forcing him to sign a non-compete agreement for the next five years. Following the conclusion of the DCS sale, Surjit’s partner Roberto was let go, and Surjit was forced out soon after.
Out of fear of losing their jobs as well, the key employees that helped found DCS – Raul Chita, Rafael Romero, Porfirio Guzman and Alejandro Bernal – along with Surjit’s son Rich, all decided to leave DCS, creating Capital Cooking Equipment Inc. in 2001. With Surjit and Roberto sidelined due to their non-compete agreement, Capital Cooking was led by Rich Kalsi, until in 2004 DCS was again sold, freeing Surjit and Roberto from their non-compete agreement and allowing them to join Capital. Capital’s Board of Directors immediately moved to invite Surjit and Roberto to become partners in Capital, and after doing so, Surjit was elected Chairman/CEO and President of Capital Cooking while Roberto was elected Co-Chairman.
Going back to his engineering roots, Surjit immediately began redesigning the off-the-shelf sealed burner system that Capital was buying from Germany at the time, creating a new sealed burner system significantly better than any other sealed burner on the market – the burners that power Capital’s Precision line. From there, Capital has continued revolutionizing the home cooking world, creating the open burner Culinarian series of ranges – ranges that, as I’ve already detailed, absolutely redefine the idea of performance in the kitchen. Of course, it’s not really surprising considering they’re created by the same individual responsible for bringing the concept of professional cooking in the home to reality more than 20 years ago.
But as impressive as the story is, what makes the story so great is the man himself. Despite his numerous successes, despite his innovations, despite his accolades, Surjit Kalsi is without question the most passionate man in the home culinary world. I can tell you this because I’ve spoken to him, not for the sake of this article, but as a customer. I spent a tremendous amount of time researching ranges in search of the one that best exemplified professional cooking in the home, and surprisingly, when I went to Capital with my questions, it was Surjit himself that answered my questions. It was Surjit that detailed the history of Capital, the intricacies of the Culinarian, and what sets Capital apart from every other range manufacturer on the planet. It’s a a level of passion unlike any I’ve witnessed from a company’s CEO, and I truly believe it is Surjit’s passion that’s the key reason Capital leads the professional home cooking market.
Capital Culinarian Conclusion
If you haven’t already guessed, I’m in love with my new Capital Culinarian. Simply put, it redefines what’s possible in home cooking, bringing a level of performance rivaling that of a commercial range to the home chef. Not only is there not a better professional home range on the market, there’s not a professional home range that comes anywhere close to matching the Capital Culinarian’s performance, functionality or design. If you’re even remotely considering a new range, you absolutely have to put the Capital Culinarian at the top of your list. It is, for all intents and purposes, the perfect home range.
You can learn more about the Capital Culinarian at the official Capital Cooking website, including a detailed look at the available sizes and cooktop configurations. There’s also a color chart available showing the numerous color choices available, should you wish to depart from the more traditional all stainless steel design. And finally, for an in-depth at my personal 60″ Capital Culinarian CGSR604GB2, check out the huge photo gallery below to see what makes the Culinarian so special.