Many of the French restaurant ranges we’re seeing in home kitchens lately are enormous.
As someone who has cooked and written professionally about food off and on all my life, it’s quite natural to pay attention to ranges — especially French restaurant ranges — which we’re seeing in home kitchens more frequently these days. Most of these “pianos,” as French chefs refer to their stoves, cost as much as the best cars. But they have been brought home as the ultimate kitchen luxury – particularly the custom La Cornue range, a favorite of top kitchen designers like Mick De Giulio. La Cornue is now sold by Williams-Sonoma Home.
Many of the French restaurant ranges in kitchens lately are enormous! By that I mean more than 6-feet long. These veritable eco systems that occupy entire walls. Complete with storage cupboards, warming ovens, rotisseries, induction units, salamanders, water baths, char grills, griddles, French tops and high-powered open burners plus ovens lined in cast iron, these are the monster trucks of the food world, tricked out with any feature the owner desires.
The largest range I’ve seen in any home kitchen, and perhaps the most expensive, is the 11-1/2-foot long Bonnet, set up in a Connecticut home [top]. The range is the focal point of a kitchen addition to a 1940s stone manor house and the design is by Victoria Hagan. Bonnet’s Maestro range is housed under a gargantuan arched custom copper hood. The set up includes storage cupboards, a gas oven, warming ovens, 4 burners, an induction unit, a plancha (griddle) for searing, a salamander and perhaps the ultimate accessory – a plating rail that runs along the entire front. Additionally, this kitchen has electric wall ovens used for baking, two dishwashers and specialized prep zones for baking and flower arrangement. Many small hotels aren’t equipped to this extent.
In a kitchen designed by Mick De Giulio, a black La Cornue from the Chateau series (which appears to be the 48-inch Chateau 120) , with double ovens (one gas; one electric) is built out by the brand’s matching storage units. The installation looks about 12-feet long and combines drawers and slide-out storage bins filled by $290 Vanelle walnut baskets with leather handles.
Another La Cornue (which appears to be the Grand Palais 180) is set into an imposing stone niche in a Colorado kitchen. I’m a bit jarred by the combination of rustic stone and traditional blue and white tiles (someone must have visited Monet’s Giverny Kitchen). But what this range wall lacks in design wisdom it makes up for with enthusiasm. This a showstopper of a range which retails in the $50,000 range. And because size and cost so clearly matters in each of these kitchens — a statement of the most serious culinary intent.
(Source: At Home with Town & Country, de giulio, djarchitects)
For more on French ranges see: Black French Range in a White Kitchen
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Tricia Rose says
Don’t you sometimes have the distressing feeling that these big stoves are bought by people who don’t do that much cooking? If they are meant to be show-stoppers, maybe that’s all they end up being.
Those are breathtaking, and I always HOPE they indicate serious culinary intent. 😉
I would like it if I could afford it. Then when the family doesn’t like what your cooking they can make their own dinner at the same time. As long as they washed their dishes. This would be great too when there are parties, there are so many cooks in the kitchen at the same time! It’s fun!
Jane F says
It doesn’t bother me if someone buys a big stove and doesn’t cook. At least there’s always a possibility, right?
I often wonder whether or not I would want one. I think it would depend on how it cooked. I do love a smooth-cooking range. My little inexpensive Berta was a joy that way. Such good burners and so responsive. The downside is cleaning one of these monsters on a regular basis.
After reading this post Mr Shops said (again) he wants a French range. He loved looking at WS before we built, but I said no – fear of no one to repair if/when problems. If I had met Jane before construction, I would have been educated and made a better purchase. He does like our range, but it’s not pretty.
Jane F says
You could always switch out to a Lacanche and give DD2 your range.
You’re an enabler. ;D
Jane F says
We find each other.
Bonnet now has a residential website – check it out at http://www.bonnetathome.com
A. Short says
What is a plating rail for?
Jane F says
It’s a place on the stove where warm plates can be rested. It’s right in front of the burners so food can easily be moved from the pan directly onto the plate. It’s handy when everyone is eating the same thing — line up the plates and transfer whatever directly from the skillet as it’s done. You looking at a Euro style stove? — J
A. Short says
Our remodel of a 1938 Spanish Colonial has started and I am looking at the Lacanche Citeaux- which seems like a monster stove to me! (The scale of the Citeaux works but more drawers would be nice too…) I want my stove to be first of all beautiful but also functional, as I cook everyday. The Euro stoves have thermocouples which means it takes 20-25 seconds for a burner to ignite, which is honestly a little off-putting. What are cooks putting in their kitchens these days? What issues do you consider important in choosing a functional (and beautiful) stove?
Jane F says
Do you have a lot of time? A book could be written to answer that question.
First, let me say that if I ever bought a stove vs a rangetop with wall ovens, Lacanche would be high on my list. They are old school French ranges. Yes, they are beautiful and they had better be since a Lacanche should be a focal point in a kitchen. A range as big as the Citeaux does qualify as a monster stove and by virtue of its size will be a key feature.
Stove choices today divide into two main groups in my view. One side are the electronic “pro style” ranges with all the whizzy new features like steam injection and automatic this and that. On the other side are traditional ranges. IIRC, Lancanche doesn’t have lighted ovens (though maybe that has changed). Additionally, they are mechanical vs electronic. Wolf just introduced a new induction range this week — looks like the Miele range is giving them some competiton.
Gas ignitors on European ranges all have that delay. I don’t know why it bothers people but it does. I had it with my Bertazzoni in our apartment but got used to it. Many don’t care for the sealed burners.
I feel stoves are very personal. F.ex. I believe there are stovetop cooks vs oven cooks. I’m an oven cook. So ovens are more important to me than the stove top. Do you know what you would call yourself?
For a stovetop cook, even heat delivery and the ability to sear is often most important. Some people want high powered gas burners — the higher the better. I believe that the high powered burners aren’t suitable for most cooking people do. They just don’t get it. I’ve actually had fights over that issue, with men mostly. They don’t believe me when I say I can improve the performance of any stove — even including a really crappy old style electric stove — with good cookware. Perhaps that’s why I feel less concerned about burner power. Heat delivery is another matter. Star shaped burners deliver the most even heat. But a good cook can use a hotplate successfully.
Once you know whether you fall into the oven or stovetop camp generally, you can start to define what you really need. With Lanache — vs Miele or Wolf — you can customize the top to best suit the way you cook. F.ex. if I cooked a lot of Italian food and entertained a lot — boiled big pots of pasta all the time — I might consider a combo stovetop of induction and gas. Is a built-in grill necessary and are you willing to devote $$$ to ventilation needed for that? Or does an outdoor grill work? I personally only like certain foods — steaks and lamb chops — f.ex. cooked on a grill. I use my gas grill outdoors. I’ve never sauteed a steak and finished it in the oven. I don’t like the texture. Those types of preferences open up wide ranging discussions about the kind of stove that is suitable for you.
People often say they want to have 3 trays of cookies bake perfectly. Good luck with that but then you are talking about an electric oven with multiple racks and convection. And likely a 30″ oven rather than the slightly smaller Eurosize. OTOH, I don’t care for those huge 36″ pro range ovens that take forever to heat up and get so hot I can hardly stand at the stove to do anything else.
So it’s always important to look at the relative placement of ovens and burners and understand where the ovens exhaust.
That’s just a small sampling of the many issues that can be discussed. Some people just fall in love with Lacanche and buy it without much further thought. They seem to be great at talking people through the available options. I’m just always fascinated to see what people choose and why.
Let me know how it’s going as you get further along.