Shopping for a High-tech Oven, With Tips from the Experts at Monogram
May 23, 2022
Text by Maria LaPiana
A home oven in the 1700s (if you were lucky to have one) was of the woodfired, beehive variety; the gas oven made a welcome debut in the early 1800s; but it wasn’t until the 1920s that the less-expensive, easier-to-clean electric oven made its way into kitchens across America. Talk about slow food.
Today’s home oven is nothing short of a modern marvel; it’s sleek, fast, flawlessly precise—and getting smarter every day, with luxury brands like Monogram leading the way. Says Monogram oven expert Alex Ochsner: “People love cooking shows and celebrity chefs. They watch them and say ‘I want to be able to do that,’ so we’ve designed smart features that allow them to cook the cool things they see on TV.” Features like direct-air convection, steam and air-fry functions, and precision cooking modes that automatically track cooking progress, modify temperatures, and adjust cooking times. Plus, you can preheat and program your oven while you’re still at work.
Whether you’re remodeling your kitchen, replacing an old clunker, or want an upgrade better suited to your amped-up cooking skills, shopping for an oven can be overwhelming. We asked Ochsner, who is Training & Development Senior Manager for the Monogram brand, for some help. He was happy to oblige as he’s accustomed to giving advice to home cooks at all levels—from “someone who knows their way all around the kitchen, to someone who white-knuckles it through a Hello Fresh recipe.”
First, ask who will use your oven and where will it go. If you’re planning a kitchen remodel from scratch, you have flexibility and options, says Ochsner. Picture how you (and any companion cooks) move through the kitchen on a given day. And if you entertain often, ask yourself how that functionality will look. A certified kitchen designer can help you decide where to place your oven, considering traffic patterns as well as recommended guidelines, including how much “landing room” you need for hot pots and baking sheets next to or above your oven.
After that, the type and size are up to you. So, wall or range … or both? If you choose a professional-looking range with a gas (or induction) cooktop, you can have a larger capacity oven—up to 48 inches. There’s also a side-by-side option. “The larger oven on the right can accommodate a full-size sheet pan, while the smaller oven, which is quicker to preheat, can be your everyday oven,” says Ochsner.
From an ergonomic standpoint, however, if you prefer not to bend over, it may make sense to choose a wall oven (available in two standard sizes: 27 and 30 inches wide). Feeling a double? It may be the best choice if you frequently cook more than one or two dishes at time.
There’s a whole world of function beyond bake, roast, and broil in ovens today. And while your go-to menus may not vary too much from day-to-day, wouldn’t it be nice to widen your repertoire?
We all know what a convection oven does, but Monogram takes it to the next level, using what they call “direct-air.” Instead of a fan in back that blows air in one direction, Monogram ovens feature an extra electric heating element and a fan that changes directions, says Ochsner: “If you’re cooking in a deeper dish, for example, the air will blow down from above and envelop the food and heat it all the way through.”
Veggies and potato casseroles. Baked salmon. The perfect roast chicken. Monogram has tested and perfected dozens of dishes for its precision cooking modes feature. Use the temperature probe on a chicken, for example, and during the cooking cycle the temperature will automatically increase to crisp the outside, then decrease to ensure the inside is thoroughly cooked. They take their testing seriously: “Our team went through 900 pounds of fish to develop the baked salmon mode,” says Ochsner.
More precise cooking is only the beginning. Other options include a steam oven, a no-preheat air-fry function, a dehydrator, and (coming soon) a rotisserie that can cook a full-size turkey. If you like a self-cleaning feature, you’ll love a steam clean option. Simply pour water on the oven floor and it will heat to boiling, making a wipe-down quick and easy. And getting back to how smart these ovens are …they all have 7-inch LCD screens, built-in WiFi, and are powered by a SmartHQ™ app with downloadable upgrades.
You can choose your style, too. While the commercial, stainless-steel look has been in vogue for years now, Monogram offers a luxury version of it, as well as another distinctively different look. The “Statement” collection is substantial, with solid brass accents for a professional vibe. It comes with a French-door option with a proprietary mechanism so you can open both doors with one hand. The “Minimalist” collection is “pure and simple,” with an expansive glass surface and no handles to detract from its streamlined look; just push to open.
Wait, There’s More
In the showstopper category, there’s the Hearth Oven. “It was originally launched as a pizza oven, says Ochsner, but “we quickly realized people are getting more creative with it. It takes 20-30 minutes to preheat and has a real pizza stone on the inside. It can get up to 1300 degrees, and can roast vegetables, too. It bakes a Neapolitan pizza in two minutes.” Finally, there’s the top-of-the-line Five-in-One Advantium that seriously does it all—it can be used as a convection oven, toaster oven, warming/proofing oven, precision cook oven, and microwave. It features speed-cook technology that cooks food up to eight times faster than a conventional oven. “That baked potato that can take 45 minutes to an hour? You can have it, perfectly baked, in six minutes,” says Ochsner.
For more information on Monogram ovens, visit monogram.com.