If you’re an amateur or professional chef with six grand just burning a hole in your pocket, we’ve got just the gadget for you. The Samsung RF34H9960S4/AA Chef Collection Refrigerator is bound to leave any food aficionado standing slack-jawed, awed by a truly stunning appliance.
The massive unit features three highly-customizable compartments, a bevy of techy features and a back chilling wall that may freeze off your fingertips (OK, it’s not that cold). It would make a great centerpiece in a highly-trafficked kitchen.
A chef-inspired design
Samsung didn’t fly blind when designing this four-door fridge. The company gathered together a group of master chefs — dubbed “Club Des Chefs,” it includes Michelin-rated chefs such as Daniel Boloud — and used their insight to design something that not only looks good but functions well for busy cooks. And this unit definitely shows the fruits of that labor.
For one, the door pulls are integrated into the sides of the doors, which means you don’t have to worry about bumping into protruding handles when rushing around the kitchen. And of course it’s crafted of stainless steel, which is durable, easy to clean and resistant to bacteria.
Then you have the unique and useful temperature setting display, which is made out of pinholes through which LED lights shine. The result is a seamless look that provides information about your three cooling zones without always being “in your face.” The display lights up whenever you open the door, or touch the dispenser panel.
In a nod to the fact that this is indeed a fridge for a home kitchen, Samsung has included an ice and water dispenser in the top left quadrant. Those who enjoy their bubbles will be happy to note that sparkling water is an option, though you’ll have to purchase the Sodastream carbonator bottle separately. Given the price of this unit, we think it would have been a classy move for Samsung to throw in a “get one carbonator free” card. We do appreciate that the fridge lets you select your level of bubbles, though.
A stunning example of what people from different areas of expertise can build when they think together.
Moving to the inside of the Chef Collection fridge, you’ll notice many more expert-inspired touches, most important being the fact that all 34.3 cubic feet are impeccably optimized for maximum storage.
In the fridge, you’ll find three main shelves; half of the top and half of the middle can slide back to accommodate taller items like 2-liter soda bottles. There are two crisper drawers and a Chef Pantry drawer as well — more on that later. The left door has three compartments, two of which have attached metal bars that can be flipped in to help keep bottles and such in place. The right door has two butter-sized buckets, a medium compartment with a flip-up lid and a Chef Basket that pops out easily for toting meats and such. It’s a very smart design, and all compartments and shelves (minus the main shelf) are easy to remove and clean to boot.
The left and right freezer sections are similar though not identical to one another. Each has three drawers and three door compartments. The left offers a sliding compartment above the top drawer, while the right features a full-depth sliding shelf at the top. All drawers roll completely out, making it easy to access even items in the way back.
Features to dig into
So back to those freezer sections: the right half actually doesn’t have to be a freezer, which means you can up your fresh food storage to 26 cubic feet. In fact, this is the Cool Select section of the RF34H9960S4, and you can customize it with one of four temperature settings. Your options are Cool at 41 degrees, Chill at 36 degrees, Soft Freeze at 23 degrees or Frozen at anywhere from 9 degrees to just about zero.
Another Chef Collection fridge feature we’re digging is the Chef Pantry. It’s designed to chill at 30 degrees, which — according to Michelin chefs, of course — is the perfect temperature at which to store meat and fish. We’re not about to argue with Daniel Boloud on that point
Draws more juice than the average fridge. It kept tripping the circuit breaker in our test kitchen.
To help make sure your food stays fresh and cool, Samsung integrates some innovative fridge technology. One is the stainless steel back paneling, which distributes cooling evenly. There are also three evaporators — one for each zone — that ensure precise humidity levels.
The tech extends to the control panel, which is located on the top edge of the bottom left door. This placement isn’t ideal to us, as it requires you to open a door to make adjustments, although you should be able to change settings quickly enough in theory. We found that the controls weren’t the most intuitive and definitely required thorough reading of the manual. However, you’ll get the controls down pat with a little practice.
As for what you can control, your options are many. You can set the fridge temp between 34 to 44 degrees, adjust the freezer temp from 5 to -8 degrees and select your Cool Select setting. There are also buttons marked Door Alarm (options are on or off); Energy Saving, which also functions to toggle temperature units between Fahrenheit and Celsius; and Control Lock. Pressing and holding either the Fridge or Freezer keys will, respectively, put the unit into Power Cool or Power Freeze mode, which helps quickly chill easily spoiled items. (We tested it by chilling beer from lukewarm to delicious.)
It’s worth noting that the Samsung Chef Collection fridge has a bit of smart functionality, a companion app called E-Smart Refrigerator (available for download on Google play) that lets you view your temperature settings as well as how much energy (in KWh) the unit is consuming. It would be nice if the app also let you control settings, but alas, it won’t, at least not at present. There is a function called SMART GRID that can let you control energy usage, but you need a separate contract with the utility company to use it.
Welcome to the chill zone
To test the accuracy of the cooling in the three independent sections of the Chef Collection fridge, we used three digital thermometers. We had the fridge set to 37 degrees Fahrenheit, and our thermometer came back at 37.7 degrees. We set the Cool Select zone to Soft Freeze at 23 degrees, and our thermometers read 24.6 — pretty much right on.
As with Samsung’s Wi-Fi fridge, our freezer readings weren’t as accurate, with temps coming back ranging from -3 to -10 degrees, despite a nominal setting of -8. This might be because the room temperature has a much wider spread with the freezer, and so the unit was gaining heat and then trying to overcompensate.
To test the cooling ability, we started with a Full Sail ale at 72 degrees Fahrenheit and placed it on the middle of the bottom shelf of the fridge. To speed up the process, we activated the unit’s Power Cool feature, which is designed to chill the compartment temperature quickly after the doors have been opened. The RF34H9960S4 chilled the beer to a frosty 44 degrees in one hour flat, an average drop of about half a degree per minute. Meanwhile, the built-in spout poured a 6-ounce glass of water in just over 12 seconds – a bit slow, in our opinion.
The Chef Collection fridge is a stunning example of what people from different areas of expertise can build when they think together. From the seamless design to the masterful use of space for storage and organization to the handy features, it’s impossible not to fall in love with the RF34H9960S4.
It’s also among the most expensive consumer refrigerators on the market, and you may be hard pressed to justify dropping $6,000 on an appliance. However, if you’re caterer, home chef or just love to cook — and you’re on the market for a luxury fridge — this is one of the best.
- Flexible, functional design
- Dispenses both still and sparkling water
- Innovative rear steel panel chills quickly and consistently
- Three adjustable cooling zones
- Massive capacity
- Settings aren’t all that intuitive
- No adjustable humidity settings on crisper drawers