In 1908, inspired by the Paris metro, Albert Dupuy realized there was a more efficient way to heat an oven, effectively warming the joint of meat equally from all sides; the original vaulted oven was born.
Over the years, this developed to incorporate gas and then later electricity, but the principle remained the same. Fast-forwarding to 1964, the focus shifted to include beauty and excellence – and this is still the case today. “The superlative Château range was developed in Paris in 1964 and set the benchmark for the future,” explains Benoit Favier, Managing Director of La Cornue SAS. “Instantly recognizable, it was made from the highest quality materials – cast iron and stainless steel, bronze or copper – and then covered in enamel to allow a wide range of different colours.”
This range is still going strong today, but has now been joined by two other ranges of cookers and a selection of modern kitchen solutions. “For those entering the world of La Cornue, the newly-designed CornuFé range is a great place to start,” says Mr. Favier. Prices here start at around 5,000 EUR.
At the other end of the spectrum are the hand-made ovens from the Château range. Like all its predecessors, it remains the pièce de résistance among the ovens, but the fourth generation, launched in 2014, has an important, modern twist.
“Today’s range of Château ovens consume less power than ever before, giving us a Level A product to fit into all modern homes,” says Mr. Favier proudly.
While on the subject of modern homes, La Cornue has brought a variety of other products onto the market in recent years, designed to complement contemporary living. “Kitchen island units are in vogue at the moment, and are the symbol of a modern, integrative kitchen. Our units are designed to be the showpiece of a La Cornue-inspired kitchen, and work both with and without one of our ovens. We’re definitely seeing ourselves moving in the direction of architecture and kitchen design,” says Mr. Favier.
Another stand-out product that is growing in popularity is the Flamberge rotisserie which is built into the wall and produces no smell, meaning it can also be the centre of attention in any living room. La Cornue currently employs 60 people and has a turnover of 20 million EUR.
The company was bought in 2015 by the American group Middleby, which is headquartered in Chicago. However, La Cornue is still firmly in touch with its roots; all the Château cookers are produced in its workshop on the outskirts of Paris, and there is still a store within the métropole.
“We have a store in Paris and are planning to open a second one in London this year,” explains Mr. Favier. “When it comes to sales, other than our stores, we successfully channel sales through high-end kitchen designers who usually have standalone stores. Plus you will find us at all relevant trade fairs and exhibitions, such as in Milan.”
When it comes to the future, Mr. Favier is very positive. “As well as the London shop opening this year, we are due to launch a brand-new, high-end product range in 2018. At our next trade fair we will also be showcasing a limited edition model which we have been closely developing with a talented artist. This isn’t the first time we’ve done such a thing. In 2016 we developed an exclusive model with the Dutch artist Lex Pott,” he says.
Its employees are a very important part of the future too. The transfer of knowledge within the company is taken very seriously, and La Cornue is committed to employing and training up apprentices. A special focus is placed on metalwork and hand assembly, and they even have their own engineering office.
Finally, there is export – a major part of La Cornue’s future plans. It currently sells to over 60 countries and 75% of all turnover is generated abroad. “Our biggest market is the USA, where we see 50% of all our turnover being generated. Our reputation speaks for itself there. Asia has massive potential as well,” declares Mr. Favier. “However, here we have to explain more, and overcome the fact that ovens are used far less than in the West. But I am confident we will succeed.”