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Lacanche vs. O'Keefe & Merritt

Posted by achauer (My Page) on
Fri, Feb 14, 14 at 3:09

This may be an absurd comparison, but currently my top choices for a new range are either a 39" Lacanche Chagny or a 39" O'Keefe & Merritt double oven (preferably 6-burner, but it has been elusive). I currently have a 34.5" O'Keefe & Merritt with one oven and four burners. I have been fairly content with it, but for complex dinner party menus I have often wished for two ovens. Also the oven heat is uneven, noticeably hotter in the back.

With patience I believe I could get the OK&M for under $2000, though not fully restored (the headquarters were here in Los Angeles and so they are all over the place still). I'm not a huge fan of midcentury design (and my house was built in 1901), but I find these ranges attractive, reliable, and quite serviceable.

Obviously the Chagny would cost significantly more, requiring some sacrifice (happily undertaken, but worthy of consideration). I would be able to choose color and configuration, including the French top (though I've never used one, I thrive on learning new methods). I also like the idea of having both electric and gas ovens (experimental possibilities!). The look would be a little less era-specific, a plus in a home that came too late for Victorian and too early for Craftsman.

So I'm wondering, would my cooking experience be so radically different on the Lacanche? Am I romanticizing the possible benefits simply because they are unknown to me? My current OK&M is a solid workhorse - I just don't know if I'm unaware of a whole different world of high-end power and finesse, of having tools and techniques at my disposal that would actually make a difference.

If anyone has worked on two similar ranges, please let me know how you thought they compared, pros and cons. Paying more doesn't always get you as much more as it should, you know what I mean?

Many thanks,

Allison


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Lacanche vs. O'Keefe & Merritt

The only thing these two ranges have in common is that neither has lights in the oven.

If you are serious about answering this question the way to do that is to call French Ranges and ask them to hook you up with someone in your area who has a range and will let you come over and see it or perhaps give it a test drive. It is a service they are able to provide because they make their purchases so personal.

Additionally, there are epic archived Lacanche threads here and/or on the kitchen forum unless madness has prevailed (anything is possible here) and they were deleted. It should remain feasible to email actual owners on those threads to inquire about how they like their ranges etc. I did that with another appliance a few years ago and got a cordial and excellent response from multiple long-term owners. Emphasis on long-term.

The trick is to enable your own email in your profile so owners respond easily, which should produce more answers.

Overall, I can tell you from many years around here, that Lacanche owners tend to be the most satisfied of any owner with their ranges and I cannot even recall a serious complaint because the dealer fields issues and resolves them.

One very good reason to go with Lacanche over a retro range is that the top can be customized to suit your cooking style.

Here is a link that might be useful: Options

This post was edited by rococogurl on Sat, Feb 15, 14 at 16:43


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RE: Lacanche vs. O'Keefe & Merritt

It sounds like your OK&M is much better than my 1956 GE electric range. Certainly there'd be a nice improvement in burner power with a Lacanche, among other benefits. I'm actually curious if you've come across any other 39-41" ranges? I'm looking for something to fit my space and right now Lacanche seems the most likely candidate both from a form and function standpoint.


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RE: Lacanche vs. O'Keefe & Merritt

I have indeed contacted Victoria at Art Culinaire requesting a local viewing. Believe me, my heart is telling me I need the gorgeous bespoke machine :) But my head is insisting I focus on facts before giving in to the very effective marketing!

Rococogurl, I like your advice about contacting owners from past threads. I've certainly read through them, but checking in for a recent report is a great idea.

ChristyMcK, it is true that there aren't many American ranges that fall into that size (36 to 48 is a big jump!). On the European side I've come across ILVE, which has a 40" range in its Majestic series. It is also quite pretty, but the second oven is very small, only 10.25" wide. The CornuFe has two ovens, but is 43" wide.

Here is a link that might be useful: 40 inch ranges at AJ Madison


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RE: Lacanche vs. O'Keefe & Merritt

Yeah, and while I'd like a 36+" cooktop, an oven in a 36" range is definitely not what I'm looking for - it's way too big and would take too long to heat up. The current 21" oven on our range (along with the 13" wide 2nd oven) works quite nicely from a space perspective. Thanks for the link to the Ilve - I've never heard of them. Is there a reason you are not considering them?

The CornuFe 90 looks like it has two ovens and is ~39" but I think I'm looking at the European website and that model may not be available in the US.

With the space we have, I could do a 36" blue star cooktop with a 27" oven underneath and then put a 24" oven and 24" warming drawer in a wall. Miele is the only one I've found to sell a 27" oven and 24" warming drawer. This combination seems fussy too considering it's 4 appliances rather than two (a Lacanche Volnay + Combi Steam oven).


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RE: Lacanche vs. O'Keefe & Merritt

I'm not totally discounting the ILVE, but I'm not as drawn to the design lines and colors. Nevertheless, I'm keeping an eye out in case a good deal shows up!

If I had the room, I would be interested in adding a combi oven - there are a lot of great things you can do in that, including a sort of waterless sous vide. So if I were you, that's what I'd go for :)


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RE: Lacanche vs. O'Keefe & Merritt

After I reread your posted and looked at the Ilve I see how shallow the ovens are and that's not ideal. I think the Lacanche ranges now have oven lights. I love having two ovens. The Chagny looks like a good pick and a worthy splurge!


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RE: Lacanche vs. O'Keefe & Merritt

I haven't cooked on either, but I prefer the solid good looks of the O'K&Ms. There are some kitchens where one will be more appropriate than the other, but I prefer a little less glamor in my appliances. Chrome is always welcome, though!

I can't believe they are that expensive in your area! You can get restored ones for less than $2k in the bay area, and unrestored ones (bring your own truck and muscle) for next to nothing.

(I chickened out on vintage ranges though--there's a lot to be said for going without a pilot light.)


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RE: Lacanche vs. O'Keefe & Merritt

It may be that I'm looking for one of the rarer configurations - I don't want one of the two "ovens" to be a Grillovator, and I'd like 6 burners rather than 4 plus a griddle. Fully restored, re-porcelained, and re-chromed, those go for around $6000 at the vintage stove shops in LA. I guess there's enough demand? I've even heard that they sell to customers in Japan who use them as room decor.


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RE: Lacanche vs. O'Keefe & Merritt

hi Achauer,

There was a beauty of a restored OKM Aristocrat (6 burners & two ovens @ 60" wide) for sale a while back on one of the vintage stove sites for around $5k; we almost sprang for it but realized it doesn't fit in our available space.

By the by, Rococo, all OKMs have oven lights, so perhaps that's even less they have in common with a Lacanche. :)

I can say that we've used our self-restored 40" OKM for about 5 years now and still adore it every day.

Pros ( for you) of an OKM:
-- Not so difficult to transform a Grillevator broiler into a functioning second oven. From what I can tell the bodies are cast to allow for either option; you'd need a qualified gas person to hook up a new thermo, fiddle with the pilot and replace the Grillevator control knob with a Robertshaw regulator. Of course, ideally you'd just find a dual-oven model.

-- tI may be the same with converting the center griddle into two extra burners; I haven't seen but one 6-burner in all my OKM searches, but they must be out there. We actually appreciate the griddle as nice extra workspace rather than as a working griddle, but it works perfectly for that too.

--There are many excellent repair and parts stores in CA that carry every conceivable OKM part you could need. (I envy this, as I have spent a fortune in shipping heavy parts to Maine.)

-- You can get it tuned up by a qualified gas pro. I find they are often fascinated by the hands-on element of a vintage stove, but most importantly this might cure the issue you mention vis-a-vis the unevenness in your oven.

Caveats (for you) of an OKM:
-- we're in Maine so the slight additional aforementioned pilot light under the top of the range does not bother us. Possibly not true for someone in a warmer clime, although I must say I lived with Wedgewoods of varying configurations for almost 10 years in the Bay Area and the pilots never bothered me.

-- No matter how finely you tune it, the top OKM burners are set at 12k btu. A modern gas range will have more satisfactory power if you do things like stir fry or boil water often.

Given the enormous cost differential, only you can know which is more worth it. Best of luck deciding!


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RE: Lacanche vs. O'Keefe & Merritt

Wait--the Grillevator isn't as fantabulous as the marketing suggests???

I'm stunned! :D


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RE: Lacanche vs. O'Keefe & Merritt

Oh, I've seen those Aristocrat models - they are gorgeous! And you are absolutely right about all the vintage stove repair & restoration shops here: there are two within 5 miles of me, and at least two more within a 25 mile radius.

The pilot lights on my current OK&M have never bothered me, in fact I've even made use of the slight warmth as a handy spot for fermentation.

The lack of a truly high-powered burner has been an issue, however. When I do large batch canning and stock-making I spend an awful lot of time waiting around for a boil.

I may have a line on the right model of O'Keefe locally - I'll check it out this weekend. I'm also going to be seeing a Lacanche in person. It should be an informative day!


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RE: Lacanche vs. O'Keefe & Merritt

I know--pilot lights are perfectly sensible and were used for years without problems. They just make me nervous and I know it's irrational. :)

Maybe canning would be made easier with an induction hotplate nearby to preheat the canners. So pilot lights make me nervous but slogging around huge vats of boiling water...no problem!

Anyway, post pictures of the ones you look at so we can live vicariously.


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RE: Lacanche vs. O'Keefe & Merritt

Thanks for the cx circus.


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RE: Lacanche vs. O'Keefe & Merritt

Fori, that's exactly our plan for the new kitchen: a separate induction burner for things like canning or boiling in a hurry.

And au contraire, the Grillevator is a thing of continuing amazement! It's the center griddle on top that we rarely use, being neither pancake folks nor blessed with a horde of ravenous offspring.

But the Grillevator, mmmm. Best thing on earth for making Korean barbeque, Thai peanut chicken skewers, or plain ol' steaks. Although I also enjoy the vintage frisson of making Rumaki in it for parties. ;-)

Here is a link that might be useful: Rumaki


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RE: Lacanche vs. O'Keefe & Merritt

OK. That's intriguing.

I could almost be tempted by one of those if they were to be found in what's now standard sizes. I don't want to be like our OP here, stuck between a Lacanche and a relic! :)


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RE: Lacanche vs. O'Keefe & Merritt

I visited both ranges yesterday, and took photos so that I could properly report back. I saw the 6-burner double oven O'Keefe and Merritt first. It was not hooked up right then, but had been used by the current owner for many years.
IMG_1162
IMG_1159
It was in pretty good shape, and would certainly give me a much-needed second oven, and two more burners instead of the griddle I never use.
IMG_1157IMG_1142
The next stop was at Lacanche sales rep Victoria Lane's home, where I got the lowdown on these ranges and was able to poke and prod at her own coral blue Volnay.
IMG_1166
We looked at all the color chips (including the three new colors that just came out last fall) and I took home a few of my favorites (two greens and two blues).
IMG_1167
Victoria also invited me to come back and try cooking a meal on her range, which I believe I'll do. I think that's the best way for me to feel how it would be different from what I'm currently used to.

Since I didn't win the auction, at least I don't have to worry about making room for a 47" La Cornue Chateau!

Here is a link that might be useful: Ebay auction for a used La Cornue Chateau 120


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RE: Lacanche vs. O'Keefe & Merritt

Well that O'Keefe & Merritt certainly looks in beautiful condition-the porcelain, handles, chrome, and cook top cover-all look great, built when design, function, durability, and style all mattered equally. I am intrigued by the rear burner grate design-does it function as a built-in simmer plate? Is that on your current range? This range deserves to carry on a useful life and you are its' most deserving and likely new owner, having seen it, having a suitable kitchen, knowing the product, and being someone who actually cooks and would use it fully. On "automaticwasher.org" there is a large vintage range fan base and they may offer you some useful opinions. The Lacanche also looks great, I was lusting after them two years ago, but the O'K&M is here now, and remember, NO gas range boils large quantities as fast as induction, or at least 240 volt induction. Good cooking on whichever range you decide.


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RE: Lacanche vs. O'Keefe & Merritt

One comment about burners: the OK has individual, without a continuous grate. They are raised in the old style and even in new ranges I don't care for those separate raised burners as I feel they make maneuverability of pots much more difficult. Might not be a factor for you as you are accustomed.

But with Lacanche, the continuous grate over the double burners front to back makes it so easy to slide pots across. I had a gas range in our apartment with continuous grates and would never buy another gas without them.


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RE: Lacanche vs. O'Keefe & Merritt

Venmarfan, my current range does indeed have the solid burner grates, in addition to the arrow/spade grates. I have heard them called simmer grates. You can just barely make mine out in the back here behind the flames:
Out of the Frying Pan, Into the Fire

It is really sounding like I should look into picking up an induction hot plate to take care of my big liquid boiling tasks. Any particular brands/models/qualities to look for?

Rococogurl, you make an excellent point about the separate burner grates. They can have a tendency to move and tip when the pan gets off to the edge (or when you try to stand in a saucepan on top of one!).


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RE: Lacanche vs. O'Keefe & Merritt

"It is really sounding like I should look into picking up an induction hot plate to take care of my big liquid boiling tasks. Any particular brands/models/qualities to look for?

This may or may not be a good solution for you. Depends on how big the "big liquid boiling tasks"" are and what your needs and expectations are.

As venmarfan pointed out, induction's reputation for speedy boiling is with the larger hobs on 240v ranges and cooktops, not the 120v countertop units that come to mind when you talk about a countertop or induction hotplate.

The higher powered hobs on Induction ranges and cooktops (and the commercial 240v countertop units) can output at least 2500 watts and many will go up to 3500 to 3700 watts. The most common North American 120v electrical outlets are for 15 amp circuits whose maximum capacity translates to 1800 watts. For that reason, the most powerful 120v countertop units top out at 1800 watts. Some brands only go to 1500 watts and some only to 1300 watts.

For a frame of reference, that 120v countertop power is akin to what you get when using a small 6" coil burner (1500 to 1800 watts) on an electric range. Pretty speedy for, say, a 4 quart saucepan (where the burner heats the entire base and the volume of water is not large. Not so much with a 20 qt. stockpot/kettle where the induction hob is heating only the middle of the base and there is a much larger volume of liquid. The countertop 120v units certainly will boil a big canning kettle but will just take their time doing so. Might not be significantly faster than the gas burners on your current M&O'K range's 12,000 btu burners.

There have been numbers of threads here and at chowhound discussing countertop induction units, if you want to search further. I've seen discussions of them in brewing and canning forums, too, where folks get the portable units for the convenience and controllabilty of induction, not its speed.

One of the most commonly suggested brands is the 1800 watt Max Burton 6200 (a/k/a "Athena 6200") model which is priced as low as $70 (if you are comfortable with eBay bidding) but usually run between $100 and $120 from regular retailers. There are a number of threads here where several of us have discussed the pros, cons, tips and tricks us of this model. IIRC, there is a longer thread at chowhound which expanded greatly from an initial post about trying unsuccessfuuly to use a MB 6200 for sous vide type cooking. (If interested, try "Chowhound + Max Burton" and "gardenweb + Max Burton" as search strings for the MB specifically; "chowhound + portable induction" and "gardenweb + portable induction" for more general discussions.)

If you want speedy boiling from a portable induction unit, and your kitchen has a spare 240v outlet, you may want to look into small countertop induction inserts or the portable commercial countertop units. A few years ago (2007 and 2008 IIRC) there were some discussions here of the Cooktek 2500w and 3500w units. I think Vollrath has several as well. (Check webstaurant.com and katom.com) These are much pricier but will give you very speedy boiling of large kettles if that is what you are looking for..

This post was edited by JWVideo on Thu, Feb 27, 14 at 12:01


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RE: Lacanche vs. O'Keefe & Merritt

This is tangential to your question, but possibly helpful.

I've had several ranges through the years, but for large-scale boiling, I always pull out my Broil King hot plates, plug 'em in, and boil to my heart's desire. The hotplates work as well or better than any surface eye or flame I've ever used, and they're easy to store.

For canning, I fire up the outdoor, propane-fueled, gazillion btu "patio stove". The patio stove exceeds any interior home range on the market. For people who are serious about canning and have the space, I recommend a high btu outdoor unit every time. It's hotter than hot, but it keeps the heat out of the kitchen--and canning is the hottest thing you can do, always on a hot summer day.


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RE: Lacanche vs. O'Keefe & Merritt

The low BTUs are the one and only thing that has kept me away from O'Keefe and Merrit through the years. I've inquired around about the feasibility of replacing one or two surface burners with modern ones, but replies have generally been non-committal. No one has ever said outright that it cannot be done, but no one has said they would do it, either.

Interestingly, the Grillovator is very popular with O&M owners. I have spoken to several people who claim the broiling technology of O&M and Western Holly far exceeds that of modern units. I cannot personally vouch for that. Also, properly restored units apparently have very good ovens.

But then we get to those surface flames!! And then those grates!! It's very frustrating to want something that is just slightly not what I need.


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RE: Lacanche vs. O'Keefe & Merritt

Mikael,
Interesting thoughts.

I would imagine that a HVAC professional who's a good tinkerer could fix you up with stronger burner outlets in a vintage range, but then you'd have to figure out how to increase the capacity of the valves themselves, wouldn't you? I'm certainly no expert, but dimes to donuts some geeky gas tech guy who lives in his mom's basement could outfit you in a jiffy. ;-).

But aren't gas stoves (like the OKM) UL listed for the btus they're designed with? The efficacy of doing such a modification probably depends on how severe the building code/inspectors are in your area.

If by surface flames you mean the burner pilot light (it's one for all 4 burners), it is well covered and not exposed. Our OKM pilot does make a slight warm spot under the griddle where it sits, but I rather like that feature for tasks like melting butter. But maybe you mean unsealed burners?

I will share that I used a friend's full-grated Wolf gas stove while on a visit a while back, and those honking big grates actually rather annoyed me. I wanted to put things down -- stirring spoons, mise bowls, etc -- in the center between the burners, but couldn't do so because of the full grate. So I suspect that's all a matter of habit, like many of these issues. If you've never slid pots back and forth without lifting them slightly, you won't miss not being able to.

Question: what's a "patio stove"? Up here in Maine, anything like that would be covered in 5 feet of snow half the year. :)


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RE: Lacanche vs. O'Keefe & Merritt

Circuspeanut, I just sent you an email, and here you've already responded on the site! Thank you for noticing my comment.

I guess the inspection issue is what worries me most--not just satisfying them or staying within the parameters of my insurance policy, but also keeping the range nice and safe. Probably, it's the safety issue that has kept people from unequivocally answering my question.

I use an igniter for flames rather than a pilot light, so that's not a problem. Atlanta, Georgia, is a hot place, and even the faint warmth of a pilot light is very much noticed, but it's easily avoided. I also don't mind having unsealed burners, so that is not a problem. My real problem is with those low BTUs, and my secondary concern is those old-style grates. I agree, though, that some of those modern ranges are actually "too hot" for the home cook.

A "patio stove" is one of those things that most people use for deep-frying a turkey. But there are models designed for a wider range of cooking, and they are commonly used here for everything from low-country boils to giant pots of birria. They're great for any large party, they're heaven-sent for summer cooking, and they're a dream come true for canning.


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RE: Lacanche vs. O'Keefe & Merritt

I am helping my mom update her electric coil cooktop to an induction cooktop. We do marathon canning sessions in the summer and I think she's going to get an outdoor stove. We are looking at a Camp Chef stove which is propane driven and has two 60k BTU burners.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0009N0PIA/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_nS_img?_encoding=UTF8&colid=15V8Q66L1L38V&coliid=I35Q2DXKAD2DNG&psc=1


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RE: Lacanche vs. O'Keefe & Merritt

Those outdoor stoves look like a great idea! And a single burner like the Bayou Classic SP10 is compact and can be found for under $50. I am definitely thinking about having something along these lines on hand for those occasional giant pots of liquid. Thanks for the suggestion!!


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RE: Lacanche vs. O'Keefe & Merritt

achauer, I am having a similar struggle with an OKM 6 burner double oven and a Capital Culinarian 36".

Circus or other OKM owners...can you measure the interior dimensions of the regular oven. I know it will fit 1/2 sheet pans, but I am wondering how large of a roasting pan it will take. This is my beloved roasting workhouse and want to make sure it fits http://www.amazon.com/Cuisinart-MCP117-16BR-MultiClad-Stainless-Rectangular/dp/B0041Q409G/ref=pd_sbs_k_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=11GFG7S3QE9NNJMPM2ZK

I am thinking I could compromise and get the OKM stove and a hidden 220 outlet to plug in a induction hob if I ever need it....but am a bit worried about roasting bigger turkeys.

And Circus...how does your OKM do with stirfries? I'm not a superchef...and I don't mind stirfries on my regular gas stove. Wondering if the OKM is up to the task (since that's one thing induction won't really work on).

Thanks so much!!!!

This post was edited by navi_jen on Wed, Jul 9, 14 at 10:09


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RE: Lacanche vs. O'Keefe & Merritt

Achauer, I've got to know--what did you choose?! I am having an identical dilemma now between the Lacanche Cluny and a 1953 Wedgewood 6 burner double oven...saw both in person...a little worried that the Lacanche is all looks no substance, a little worried about going vintage. Would love to hear how you came out on the decision and if you are happy with your choice.


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RE: Lacanche vs. O'Keefe & Merritt

Peite, Achauer went with a beautiful delft blue Cluny. Check out Lacanche 44 thread.


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RE: Lacanche vs. O'Keefe & Merritt

I did indeed! And I am about a week away from cabinet installation, which will be followed by range installation :)

Getting the chance to cook a many-course meal on a Lacanche Volnay acquainted me with the substance and joy of use. The continuous grates are a lot better than the separate ones found on an OK&M. I also liked the varied burner powers. In the end, I realized that my heart was with the solid, beautiful, adaptable Lacanche and if I didn't get one now, I'd only be thinking about the time when I eventually would.


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