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Norwalk Daily Voice serves Norwalk & Rowayton

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Test the Range Before you Buy

The biggest headache for anyone putting in a new kitchen, especially a high-end one, is picking out the appliances. So many choices and they're all expensive. How can you tell which work best? Here's how. You head to Clarke and try them before you buy.

Marco Barallon and Jackie Heller have been helping kitchen designers and their clients from the tri-state area pick the right appliances since 2000. Clarke bills itself as "the ultimate kitchen resource center."  The showroom is just that -- a place to see the appliances. When you've decided which model works for you, you'll purchase it from your local appliance dealer.

Clarke features several kitchens in different configurations and finishes. The kitchens are changed regularly, as are the countertops. All kitchens are kitted out with Wolf cook-tops and ranges, Sub-Zero refrigeration, Asko dishwashers and Best hoods, the brands that Clarke represents.

"People come here to play," says Marco, the manager. The purpose of Clarke is to "stimulate people who are remodeling or doing new construction." Customers can come in and try each appliance for themselves. Not sure if you want the griddle or the grill on that 48-inch range? Take some steaks over to Clarke and see which suits your cooking style. Marco or Jackie will show you how to use both so you can make an informed decision.

Already got one of Clarke's brands? Need a lesson in how to use it? They'll help you figure it out in one of their test kitchens.

Jackie is Clarke's in-house chef and you'll usually see her wrapped in an apron and stirring a fragrant pot. She also does cooking demonstrations and oversees the showroom's culinary center, where chefs from local restaurants make regular appearances to show off their skills. Check the schedule of upcoming classes here .

The beauty of working with Marco or Jackie is that they'll teach you about the appliances without discussing prices. This way, you can pick the appliance that's right for you based on how it works, not on how much it costs. Made your choices? "We direct people to their local appliance store for their purchases," says Marco.

Have you shopped for new appliances recently? Was it a headache?

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