One of the hardest parts of doing a minimal remodel on an old kitchen is figuring out how to fit new gear into old spaces. We had a 40 year old cooktop just begging to be scrapped, and needed to find a sleek new stainless steel cooktop to drop into the now hard to match 40 inch hole. Most cooktops today fit either a 36 inch or 42 inch form factor. We were pleased to find that with a little bit of counter shaving the 42 inch Miele could manage in our old 40 inch slot.
The Miele km344 cooktop has a completely sealed stainless surface. You can spill a pot of boiling water over the surface without worries. Its a 6 burner cooktop, with castiron interlocking grates, self reigniting, with good, old fashioned analog dial controls.
The cooking surface is three giant grates, that each cover 2 burners front to back. The grates interlock so they have to go on in order, but there is no wobble, and great stability. No worries that a large pot will tip off of an inadequate grate. On the downside, the cooking surface consists of cast iron fingers reaching towards the center of each burner. It can be diffiicult to find a well supported flat spot to set down a soup bowl while ladling into it. It would be nicer if the grate had a couple of extra tines around each burner to create more broad surfaces for setting things down on the grate. The units continuous grates make it easy to move pots around on the surface without lifting and the sealed burners make cleanup much less complicated.
I find the configuration of the grates annoying in that they seem to be designed for commercial sized or styled cookware that the average home cook (that would be me – and I think most American cooks) does not use.
The BTUs on the majority of the burners are so high that I find myself needing to reduce the heat to keep the flames from overwhelming my pots and pans.
Here’s the burner configuration:
6 completely sealed burners
(2) 9,000 BTU burners
(2) 12,000 BTU High-speed burners
(1) 15,300 BTU Double Ring Super (Wok) burner
(1) 16,500 BTU Double Ring Super (Wok) burner
Oddly enough, the bigger more powerful burners are at the front of the unit rather than the back, so if you have kids in the house and generally want to put giant boiling pots of soup at the back of the cooktop, you find youself stuck using the lowest powered burners.
It looks quite nice, and is generally easy to clean. However, each gas ring is surrounded by a stainless ring that darkens and requires scrubbing with a mild abrasive. This is maintenance that is required regularly. Also, the lovely stainless is scratched anytime someone lifts a burner for cleaning unless the burner is carefully lifted straight up without making any contact with the surface.
Features and Quirks
The quirkiest feature of the cooktop is its propensity for blowing out the flame anytime you open the cabinet doors below the cooktop, or when the nearby oven fan blows across the surface, or when a decent breeze blows in the window. It’s nice that it automatically reignites, but it is kind of humorous to hear the cooktop relighting every few minutes on a windy breezy afternoon.
Although I may sound dissatisfied, I’m really not. The Meile was pricy, and I have to wonder if it is really worth it, but overall, this cooktop works well, and the customer service has been outstanding and the tune-ups we have needed were done with skill and professionalism.