diagram of french top burner, all about pro style kitchen ranges
Illustration John MacNeill
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The French-Top Option

The French top replaces four burners with a cast-iron plate ideal for cooking with multiple pots at different temperatures at the same time. Beneath the plate is a circular high-Btu burner that radiates heat outward from the center, so you can, say, boil water in the middle and simmer a sauce toward the edge. As such, it suits the fast-paced cooking of a restaurant kitchen. But because the flame is concealed, it can be hard to know when the metal is hot. And the plate may discolor quickly with use—not a problem where the range isn't on display.
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