Esse have been producing range cookers since 1854, long before AGAs were invented. Florence Nightingale used an Esse cooker in her hospital in Balaclava! Although ‘Esse’ sounds French, the company is British, based originally at Bonnybridge and later at Barnoldswick in Lancashire, where their cookers and stoves are still made today. You may have already seen an Esse cooker in action on Channel 4’s ‘River Cottage’. Esse have uploaded lots of helpful demonstration videos to their website to provide guidance about installation and maintenance, and River Cottage Head Chef Gill Meller talks through some recipes.
Esse cookers are available in gas, oil, wood and electric. Their cookers are available in 3 and 4 door designs, and in a large range of colours.
The two oven, flueless gas CAT cooker is particularly interesting, and unique to Esse. It doesn’t need a flue so no heat is lost up a chimney, making it highly efficient and cheaper to run than flued cookers. No flue also means the freedom to position the cooker wherever you like, along with lower installation and servicing costs. There isn’t a boiler model available, but on the higher settings it will provide heat to the kitchen. The cooker is programmable, and will get up to cooking temperature up to three times a day via a seven day timer. However, it can also be controlled manually, which allows the cooker to function in a power cut.
The two oven, oil fired Esse is also programmable, but does need a conventional chimney. Boiler models are available, with two burners to allow the central heating and cooking functions to be completely separate.
There are three Esse wood cookers to choose from, the 990, the 905 wood series, and the Ironheart.
The 990, cooking only, has three large ovens and a secondary glass door to the firebox so you can keep an eye on the fire more easily. There is also a boiler option, which has two ovens, and you can choose to burn solid fuel on both models. The 905 wood model has two ovens and a very generous sized firebox, and can also have a boiler. Both boiler models can be operated in ‘summer mode’ which reduces the output to operate the hot water and a dump radiator only.
The Ironheart is smaller, with one large oven, but its glass firebox door gives a beautiful view of the fire making it a really impressive addition to a kitchen. It can also come with a small boiler, a solid fuel conversion kit, and warming cupboards. The Ironheart is designed to give more heat to the kitchen than Esse’s other models, so they recommend that you have another source of cooking for use on warmer days.
Esse’s electric models give you the appearance and build quality of their other ranges, but are actually conventional on / off electric cookers in the form of a cast iron range. If you’d prefer not to use your range cooker as a heating appliance, then this may be an option worth considering. The new 13AMP electric Esse gives a constant, even heat to the ovens, so will give you the cooking experience of a traditional cast iron range, but also has an induction hob which will heat up very quickly.
The cooker can either be turned on and off, or left on a slumber setting to provide a speedy heat up time. Unlike the gas and oil cookers, each oven and hotplate can be controlled separately or turned off altogether.
The Esse EC4i is a 4 oven, 5 zone induction hob, cooker which provides lots of cooking space as economically as possible. There are two ‘A’ rated fan ovens, and the induction zones only heat up the pan so heat isn’t wasted. Induction hobs are very responsive, heating up quickly, and maintaining a simmering temperature with ease. There is also an optional heated towel rail which can be turned on and off, giving warmth to the kitchen like a traditional cast iron range.
There are two companions, either electric or wood fired, which can sit alongside any Esse cooker to provide extra cooking space. Of course, if you’re pushed for space, they can be purchased as stand alone cookers.
The electric version has two ovens and a grill, and gives the choice of a 4 ring ceramic hob or 2 pan gas hob.
The wood fired companion has one oven and bulls eye target hotplate, and an optional domestic hot water boiler. It will obviously need a suitably prepared conventional chimney.