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Fume hoods leave the stove and join the unemployment line

Downdraft cook tops from Jenn-Air eliminate the need for fume hoods

Pictured: 30" Gas Downdraft modular cook top
To walk into House Beautiful's Kitchen of the Year by designer Christopher Peacock is to enter the kind of kitchen that everyone should be striving for, even if they don't know it yet. Displayed in Rockefeller Plaza in New York City, the first annual Kitchen of the Year is shown as part of Tastes of Summer, which showcases restaurants in the city every year.

Strikingly unpretentious, the kitchen's subdued colors could easily be integrated into a broad range of existing homes without becoming boring, and the additional accents are functional and inviting. Virtually all of the elements in the kitchen scream "user friendly," and it seems as though nothing is excessive or out of place.

During a meet-and-greet with Peacock, he explained that his first choice when designing most of his kitchens is about the appliances; the rest of the kitchen is built around them. For his winning kitchen, he selected a variety of stainless steel appliances from Jenn-Air, including a dishwasher, touch-control oven, and two built-in refrigerators. He referenced both the rounded edges and the color as reasons for his selection, explaining that he likes mixing steel with more traditional elements, like natural wood and muted colors.

One of the most striking appliance choices, however, was the one that rested at the center of the kitchen. The modular cook top (pictured is the Jenn-Air 30-inch Gas Downdraft Cooktop), built in to an island in the middle of the kitchen, looks similar to gas cook tops we're already familiar with, but the fume hood that should be built above it is conspicuously absent.

The reason for the missing hood is something called downdraft ventilation, a system that allows you to install your stove anywhere in the kitchen, without worrying about having a fume hood overhead. Smoke, fumes, and odors are sucked down through a vent as you cook, so they don't end up in your kitchen.

Other notable features include a low output burner, for keeping things warm, and a flame-sensing feature, which automatically reignites your burner if it goes out. If you decide to invest in other Jenn-Air line appliances, then the ignition hardware should match nicely, too.

Models start at around $700 and range up to $2,250, depending on the size of the cooking surface and the cooking elements you need. A video of downdraft ventilation is available on Jenn-Air's Web site.