It’s the focal point of the kitchen, the hub of gastronomic creativity, the eye-catching centre from which mouth-watering delicacies pour forth. The cooker, the oven, the stove – whatever you want to call it – no home would be the same without them, no family whole sans the unifying meal which they alone provide. And so it is that for the last 65 years the British brand AGA Rangemaster Ltd. has been producing its top-quality Rayburns and AGAs, one of the leading choices for this crucial component of kitchens throughout the country. Yet, for a while, like gas-guzzling 4x4s, these rangecookers were given a distinctly ‘un-green’ stamp, due mainly to the misconception that they remained on 24/7, rain or shine. Not so anymore, thanks to an in-built thermostat that puts the chef back in control, of both the temperature and the bills.
So it is that Dick Strawbridge is endorsing Rayburn Cast Iron Ovens with his own nostalgic and food-savouring twist, reminding the public of these classic cookers, with their history in farming households throughout the land and in his own familial memory. They’re now back with a green vengeance, along with their trademark sleek enamelled and modern finish, making them perfect for either country homes or city dwellings.
No longer socially unacceptable in an age when recycling, grow-your-own, provenance and even amateur homesteading are fashionable, 100% British-made Rayburns can now be powered by three different types of fuel: kerosene oil, gas (propane or natural) and solid. The latter option includes natural or carbon neutral wood, MSF (manufactured smokeless fuel), compressed heat logs and peat briquettes. The most economic option is the wood fuelled option in the long-run and it also incurs a lower VAT. However, the most popular and greenest option is natural gas, as it produces less sulphur dioxide (a chemical which plays a part in the production of acid rain).
Whether you want a hearty English breakfast, a traditional Sunday roast, or the ability to create several dishes at once for a fabulous dinner party (let’s face it, it’s still the most economically sensible, yet socially enjoyable, option post-recession), a Rayburn really is the way to go. They’re fitted with flues which prevent odours from one dish tainting another, so a dessert won’t have hints of some meaty main course. Further, the models come in a wide variety of sizes, from the 200 Series for the more space-limited kitchen to the 600 and 800 Series, which come with a hotplate to rival the size of many a commercial kitchen’s (larger area evidently required). In addition, the hotplate itself, which rests under an insulated lid, provides a cooler temperature at one end and a higher one at the other, allowing for quick boiling before simply sliding the pot or kettle along to settle and cool.
What distinguishes Rayburns from AGAs is that, in addition to cooking and central heating, Rayburns also heat water. So, after the heat of the kitchen, the chef can enjoy a well-deserved hot bath. Domestic bliss.