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Anyone out there ever cooked on a true coup de feu/french plaque?Need help!

Dear Chowhounders,
Hoping to find someone or several someones that have actually cooked on a true coup de feu/french plaque/"le piano".I'm not talking the wimpy simmer plates they include on some of the standard brand commercial stoves, but rather, one with firepower-as in 26+ BTUs.
We're remodeling our home, and that includes my dreadful kitchen. I have the opportunity (created by much begging) to purchase an amazing French stove-either Rorgue, Bonnet, or Molteni. I'd like to include a coup (I don't have miles of wall or island space for a monster stove-60" is max, and I'd really prefer around 48-50").
To that end, I visited my local Molteni rep's home and (briefly) practiced on it. It was incredibly powerful. The Bonnet has an even bigger more powerful coup, and the sales rep didn't recommend it for home use, even though that model was advertised as a unit suitable for the home. It usually goes in Estate kitchens. My kitchen will be bigger than it is now, with higher ceilings and proper ventilation for such a unit, but now my husband is all freaked out that ANY coup will be too hot and make our kitchen really miserable.
To me, getting a french stove without the coup is pointless, and I was REALLY looking forward to using it.So dear ChowHounders, dive in and tell me all about it!

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  1. I don't have the one you describe, but I have a four-oven Aga from the UK (photo attached). It is on all the time fueled by a pilot light (bottom center) which has five settings that control the entire unit. No knobs anywhere. The ovens are insulated at different levels resulting in a "hot" oven, a "low" oven, a "very low" oven and a "warming" oven. The two top burners are hot and simmer. We inherited it with our house and it has become my "brand." I absolutely love it, despite the heat which we turn down in the summer but still keep on. There is a ton of info on the internet on the Aga Range--it's a subculture for sure and you need to have time to really cook, but I do. It's a lifestyle choice and I wouldn't have it any other way.

    1. I saw an episode of This Old House a couple of weeks ago in which Iron Chef Michael Symon installs a similar stove to yours (I think) in his new home kitchen. It's very much like the stoves in his restaurant. Might want to check this out.


      1 Reply
      1. re: sandiasingh

        This was a fun video. I notice his vent hood will go out a good 2" past the width of his stove on either side. Hope you're planning something similar, HadesHnds. From my experience, that extra capture area makes a huge difference.

      2. Hi, HH:

        I've not used any of the luxe, $$$$ versions you've listed, but I have used a commercial flat-top, and presently cook on a wood/coal stove.

        They do add heat to the kitchen when they're on, and they do not warm up instantly. The top I cooked on was a slab of 1-inch-thick stainless steel, so you can imagine that you need to fire these things well in advance of actually cooking.

        They also do not cool down quickly. So abandon any idea that you will be steering the heat during a preparation. Rather, you learn a heat setting for a prep, set it, and leave it there. If it has different zones, you adjust by moving your pan. If you hate the responsiveness of an electric coil, you will hate this aspect even more.

        Omelets and many other things are joys on these griddle surfaces, but you will need to screen the surface and deal with the grease you scrape and screen away. It can be dirty business.

        To me, the chief virtue of these coups is that you're assured the heat will be dead even. Cookware choice isn't as important when you have an expanse of evenly heated cooktop to perch it on. Another plus is that with the griddles, there's no pan in the way of your utensils.

        My opinion is that, if you're (second person plural) already sensitive to heat in the kitchen, you either skip the coup or get one with insulated covers a la the AGA/Rayburn cookers.


        2 Replies
        1. re: kaleokahu

          Is what the OP is talking about the same as a griddle though, Kaleo? Doesn't seem like you can cook right on it, but maybe I'm wrong.

          1. re: kaleokahu

            Dear Kaleo, thanks for sharing your experiences!I have an 80 inch hood, so I think it should be big enough . From what I've read, the trick is buying the right blower unit.
            As for the grease thing, a french top isn't something you can cook directly on like a flat top or plancha.You use a pan, so hopefully cleanup should be easier.

            1. This type of thing has always been on my dream list, too. One thing I wonder with the French plaque is if the cast iron discs directly above the flames can be removed fairly easily for things like wok cooking. To me, that would greatly add to its utility.

              3 Replies
              1. re: ninrn

                Hi, ninrn:

                Wok cooking "through the lid" should be no problem. I do that with my woodstove all the time, and can get temps >900F.

                These things with circular, concentric rings won't work as griddles, but one of the OP's choices uses a rectangular slab of plated steel, which is intended for such use.


                1. re: ninrn

                  Dear Ninrn, I know for sure that the center ring can be removed for wok cooking - it was an awesome perk, especially since the BTU'S are high enough to get that crazy sear you need for that type of cooking. Another rep said you can pop off the very center and use it like an open burner.Maybe you don't turn the coup up all the way...

                  1. re: HadesHnds

                    Thanks HadesHnds. What a great feature. I'm sure you've seen them already, but if you haven't, the YouTube videos by the appliance dealer Purcell-Murray give a decent overview of the French plaque and pretty much all the features of La Cornue, Gaggenau, and all the other gorgeous European stoves they carry.