Oven envy: meet the grand cru of stoves
Deep in the heart of Burgundy, the gastronomic capital of France, Lacanche is still making its cookers by hand
Lacanche Cluny five-burner in mandarin orange, €4,980.
Burgundy is a gourmand’s paradise, where wineries are cathedrals to the grape and foodies from the four corners of the world come to worship at its altars in cellars below ground.
In autumn, the landscape is jewelled by shades of gold, amber, russet, carnelian and garnet, as the vines covering the undulating hills wear a coat of many colours. This is a terroir recognised the world over where a hectare of grand cru vines, the kind that grace the lists of Michelin star restaurants and is lain down in the cellars of the super rich, costs €1 million.
Just a few miles outside the village of Baune, the gastro capital of the Cote d’Or and south of Dijon, home of the French mustard, is another gastronomic endeavour, for deep in the Cote d’Or is where range cooker company Lacanche, considered a grand-cru culinary tool by the best professional chefs, has called home for almost 250 years.
The company’s origins is in cast-iron cookware but it started making stoves and ranges as the 19th century turned into the 20th century. Its name is synonymous with striking good looks but it marries aesthetics with functionality. It is considered a sort-of gastronomic piano that can create a culinary symphony that can go from fortissimo to pianissimo in seconds.
“A lot of it has to do with the performance of the burners, how you can introduce responsiveness to your cooking, the precision of the cooking oven and the ease with which you can switch from one function to another,” explains Patrick Boisjot, a restaurateur who set up the French Culinary Institute in New York and is now a director of export at the brand.
Lacanche professional ovens and commercial kitchen equipment followed.
“The origins of the contemporary company is related to everything we know about commercial cooking,” explains Lazare Carnot, the managing director, or as he puts it, the dauphin of the company, whose father took over the business in 1982. “It is the burner power and durability of the components that attracts the home cook. The designs are robust, they are easy to clean and the materials used are durable: solid brass, cast iron and stainless steel.” There is no faff here – in fact the faff-intolerant Gordon Ramsey was one of the first celebrity chefs to use the range back in the 1990s.
The real beauty of Lacanche is its custom-ability. While there are hundreds of possible combinations, the firm has a couple of killer components that no cook should be without.
Its standard hob measures 65cm deep, the depth of a commercial unit, while most domestic designs are between 52 and 55cm. The middle burner offers five kilowatts of power. It is easy to slide a pot from one burner to another and there is space on it for four large pots. It also comes in gas, electric and induction options.
Control is a big part of the sell. “If you put something in the oven it cooks evenly on all sides. The heat penetrates evenly and that gets the juices to penetrate evenly,” Boisjot explains. But an oven is not a miracle box, Boisjot notes. “The talent is in the cook.”
You can cook almost anything using its steam box. While it may appear to be a device for refreshing par-cooked pasta, it can steam vegetables, cook custard, make terrine, fois gras and even yoghurt. You can buy extensions that you can tier as you would in a traditional pressure cooker.
The enamelled units come in every colour of the rainbow and can be custom-tinted to any RAL colour, although black is still the most popular colour. Only one out of 100 is ordered in yellow, for instance.
Still made by hand, every cooker of 100cm or more is initialised by its maker. A clever design feature is the fact that the base legs are customisable so, even if your builder made a dog’s dinner of evening out your cool new concrete floor, you can rest easy in the knowledge that your Lacanche will sit solidly on the uneven floor. The height is also adjustable too between 90 and 93cm.
With built-in obsolesce considered a given in white goods, it is heartening to discover that new components for Lacanche are built to also fit on all the older models so you can retro-fit an existing range. It means the product can change and evolve.
All this tech and design mean the cookers are not cheap. Lacanche cookers range in price from €4,890 to €27,000 depending on size, finish and trims.The Cluny five-burner model in mandarin orange pictured above is €4,980.
For a full list of La Canche suppliers contact Shotime Essential Kitchen Products. Sho.ie; Lacanche.co.uk