Despite our best intentions, there are few purchases that, to any lasting degree, ever really change our lives for the better. The latest phone, a newer television, the cutting edge fashion trend – all provide instantaneous gratification, but their usefullness is short lived, and within a relatively short time period they will all fade away, only to be replaced by a newer, better counterpart. It’s rare to find things that endure – things that have the power to improve our lives in a meaningful way on a continual, steadfast basis.
Ten years ago I wrote an article about the Capital Culinarian range, and at the time, I had no idea how I would feel about it a year later, or two, or three. I knew at the time I made the right choice selecting the Capital Culinarian for my home kitchen, but I’ve learned that it takes time to truly appreciate the value of an object. Love isn’t born in a day – it takes time to forge an enduring relationship with something. And I can tell you that looking back, I had no idea how much joy the Capital range would bring me over the next ten years.
The Capital Culinarian has become unequivocally one of the greatest purchases I have ever made, not just in terms of my kitchen, but of anything I’ve bought, period.
The Capital Culinarian has become unequivocally one of the greatest purchases I have ever made, not just in terms of my kitchen, but of anything I’ve bought, period. I’ve used it almost daily for what is now ten years, and despite a decade of cooking, it looks nearly new, it performs as perfectly as it did the day I first used it, and together with my family, the meals we have prepared with it have been absolutely magical. It has become not only the heart of the kitchen, but really the heart of the home.
But as with any good story, there needs to be a plot twist. This year has been a year of transition for me and my family, and we’ve decided to sell our home, and with it, my beloved Capital Culinarian. Not to sound overly dramatic, but I feel genuine sadness leaving my Capital range behind. It’s rare for me to form attachments to material possessions, but after countless morning breakfasts with the kids, family Thanksgivings spent around the stove with everyone preparing their favorite dishes, and date nights with my wife sharing a bottle of wine as we experiment with new recipes, I can tell you that of anything in my home, I will miss my Culinarian the most.
And while you may think that’s the end of the story and my love affair with Capital is over – that I’ve moved on to find a newer, better range manufacturer – the truth is, there isn’t one. Ten years later, Capital is the still the king of professional home ranges, which is precisely why after moving into my new home I immediately made the decision to purchase another Capital range – specifically, a 60″ Capital Connoisseurian. After taking delivery and firing it up for the first time, I can tell you Capital’s quality and performance hasn’t missed a beat. Fit and finish are perfect, performance is unrivaled, and build quality is exemplary. It’s precisely what I’ve come to know and love about the Capital brand.
Capital Connoisseurian Quick Look
So why did I choose the Capital Connoisseurian? I’m going to be writing a dedicated article highlighting all of the Capital Connoisseurian’s features in the coming weeks along with an in-depth review, but here’ a quick snapshot of why I chose it. For me, professional quality is the singular greatest attribute I look for in a home range. The ability to cook with the highest possible heat down to a gentle simmer is the key to prepare virtually any dish, and when it comes to heating, there’s no greater range on the planet than the Capital Culinarian and Connoisseurian. Both ranges feature open burners boasting an industry leading 25,000 BTU’s, but they’re also both capable of achieving a true simmer, meaning you can stir fry with a wok or sear the perfect steak, then turn down the burners to make a delicate French sauce, all from the same burners. After using them for the last 10 years, Capital’s open burners are simply incredible, and functionally they can rival the performance of any commercial range.
So why the Connoisseurian instead of the Culinarian? While the two share identical cooktops, including burners, griddle and grill, the difference between the two lies in the ovens. Whereas my former Culinarian was purely a gas range, meaning the cooktop and oven were all gas powered, the Connoisseurian is a dual fuel range, meaning the cooktop is powered by gas, but the two ovens are both electric. Gas ovens tend to produce a moister heat which favors dishes that you want to stay moist, like meats. Electric ovens produce a drier heat which tends to favor baked goods, like breads. As an avid home baker who enjoys baking bread on a regular basis, I decided to opt for the electric oven Connoisseurian model, but that being said, I loved my Culinarian’s gas oven – I very much could have purchased another Culinarian and been perfectly happy, and I’ve loved its results for conventional baked goods, including bread.
Capital’s open burners are simply incredible, and functionally they can rival the performance of any commercial range
Functionality aside, the second reason I chose Capital is because I absolutely love the design and engineering of Capital ranges. I’ve looked at Wolf, Bluestar, and Viking, to name a few, and the Capital Connoisseurian is unmatched in terms of build quality. Every part of it feels solid, like it’s built to last forever, and just like my Culinarian, my new Connoisseurian was engineered perfectly. Every weld, every piece of metal, is flawless. I’ve yet to find a range that rivals the quality of my Capital, and I’ve looked at all of them. Put it all together – performance, design, and engineering – and Capital has no rival.
Like I said, I’m going to be providing a follow up article providing an in-depth look at the Capital Connoisseurian and its many features in the near future, but if you’re in the market for a professional home range right now, put Capital at the top of your list, period. For anyone serious about cooking at the highest possible level, Capital is the foremost brand bringing commercial style cooking into the residential kitchen, and it looks superb doing it.
The Story of Capital and Superior Equipment Solutions
If you read my last article about the Capital Culinarian, you read the history of Capital ranges, and how industry veteran Surjit Kalsi helped launch the company after pioneering the first commercial style home range at Viking and later helping found DCS ranges. Much has changed since my first article, as Capital has since been acquired by Superior Equipment Solutions (SES), a world leader in both the residential and commercial appliance market. Led by Jeff Bernstein, SES owns numerous brands in the home and commercial appliance sector, starting with the Alfresco and Artisan line of residential outdoor kitchen appliances. Launched in 1999, Alfreso was started by Jeff along with Jeff Elliott and Edwin Hovsepian, who prior to starting Alfresco had more than 30 years of combined experience in the commercial appliance industry. Together, the trio envisioned bringing an entirely new level of quality, performance and luxury to outdoor kitchen appliances, and they’ve since grown to become a world leader in outdoor kitchen design and performance, working with world renowned chefs including Jean George, Wolfgang Puck, Emeril Lagasse and Mario Batali.
I’m a huge fan of Alfresco and their lineup of outdoor kitchen appliances, and I’ll be talking more about them in a separate article, but from there, the company expanded to become what is now SES brands, after acquiring numerous leaders in the commercial appliance market. Penguin Refrigeration, Adamation Innovative Warewashing Solutions and Acme Pizza and Baking Equipment are all under the SES brand family, and they all highlight the company’s skill in engineering equipment designed to excel in a commercial kitchen environment. In other words, despite being a residential kitchen brand, Capital is now backed by a world leading commercial appliance manufacturer, which only strengthenes its position at the top of the professional home range market.
It wasn’t until I decided to purchase the Capital Connoisseurian that I learned of SES’s acquisition of Capital. I had reached out to the company with some questions before making my purchase, and after speaking with the company, I felt even more confident in my purchase decsion. I learned that SES was keeping production entirely in the United States at its state-of-the-art production facility in California, and I learned that SES was founded on delivering the highest level of design, engineering and performance in everything they make, which is exactly what I expected in purchasing the Connoisseurian. I reached out SES CEO Jeff Bernstein before writing this article, and I asked him some questions about his company and his acquistion of Capital.
Here’s what he had to say.
Me: Tell us a bit about your background in the commercial kitchen sector and what led you to pioneer the concept of bringing restaurant quality kitchen appliances to outdoor spaces.
Jeff: The executives that make up the backbone of SES have all been in the business for over 30 years. All had previously worked with my father’s old company Jade Range (currently a Middleby Co.), which was a pioneer in the commercial exhibition kitchen concept – when the celebrity chef was just coming out of the kitchen.
Me: How has your prior experience in the commercial food service industry aided your ability to design and innovate products that are industry leaders in each of their market segments, and what are some of the key characteristics that both residential and commercial appliances should share?
Jeff: Whether it be commercial or residential, the kitchen is supposed to be designed for efficiency and flexibility. In the commercial environment space is always a premium, so function must prevail, and this is the concept we brought to the residential market. When we began people basically put freestanding grills on their patios, but originating from Southern California we began promoting the concept of an outdoor kitchen utilizing the premise of commercial kitchen as our guide. Many new and exciting products came out of this which have since become industry standards, i.e., the trash chute, dry storage pantry, drawers and bottle openers, just to name a few. A commercial kitchen is designed to take a veritable beating and our products are designed for the vigorous standard.
Me: After launching the Alfresco brand, you’ve since expanded into numerous other sectors with the Artisan, Penguin, Acme, Adamation and Capital brands, targeting both residential and commercial industries. Has this marriage of numerous companies under the SES brand made design and manufacturing easier (i.e., does it allow crossover among your R&D, manufacturing, technology, etc.), and has this positively impacted your residential brands?
Jeff: All of our knowledge helps us to be a better manufacturer and ACME & Adamation are companies with both over 80 years in the commercial industry. Penguin, which is our commercial refrigeration division, works with restaurant chains, and we also OEM for an established range manufacturer. This allows us to do some innovative products with our Alfresco line since we make it ourselves, like our 42” under grill refrigerator ARXE-42 with a door & 2 refrigerated drawers – this is the only one of its kind on the market.
Me: SES has chosen to invest substantially into advance automated technology and design programs, thus keeping manufacturing in the U.S.. Why was it important to you to keep design and manufacturing in the U.S. and what benefits does it provide to your customers?
Jeff: Automation allows us and the customer several benefits. First, there is a greater consistency in the accuracy of the parts produced. Human error is eliminated, thus reducing problems and also providing a higher quality. Our concept has always been to build quality in not inspect it as it goes out. We can also run a substantial part of the manufacturing process lights out which allows us to keep our lead times short and creates less of a panic so quality remains high.
Me: The founders of Alfresco have a background not only in commercial kitchen appliances but also in commercial kitchen design and space planning. How important is design in ensuring the most functional outdoor kitchen space possible and what are the benefits of having an outdoor kitchen space designed by your team of experts?
Jeff: Yes, we have always know that an efficient kitchen would be beneficial, so several years ago we started the process of offering a free 3D drawing and level out of a customers intended space – these have also become the standard in the industry.
Me: SES, through its Alfresco and Artisan brands, has been designing and manufacturing outdoor kitchen appliances that are the best in the industry, and you’ve also led the way in appliance innovations with numerous offerings that were firsts in the industry. With such success in the outdoor market, what made SES decide it was time to look to indoor appliances and why Capital Cooking?
Jeff: We have wanted to move back into the indoor market for a long time and had been working on designing a commercial style range under the Alfresco brand, but several years ago we started to have discussions with the Capital people, and finally the right opportunity arose.
Stay tuned in the coming weeks as I detail both my Capital Connoisseurian and the Alfresco lineup of outdoor kitchen appliances, and be sure to check out the official websites for both Capital Cooking and Alfresco while you wait. And a special thanks to Jeff for taking the time to answer my questions and giving us a deeper look at SES brands.