All Geared Up
Local cooks, foodies, and partymakers evaluate the newest kitchen appliances and high-tech gizmos
Health food experts are always telling us to steam things, but dealing with stovetop steaming contraptions doesn’t always appeal. That’s where the Sharp Superheated Steam Oven comes in. It cooks with conventional electric heating and steam heated to 550 degrees F. “I love steam cooking,” says Shelley Young, founder of the Chopping Block cooking school. “Steam keeps food moist, and the flavors stay pure. And it’s amazing for reheating, especially for rice and pasta." $1,399, at Abt Electronics & Appliances, 1200 N. Milwaukee Ave., Glenview, 847-967-8830; sharpusa.com.
Our friend Sarah’s unapologetically unrehabbed 1960s kitchen has many Jetson-esque features, including a counter-mounted motor into which she can dock a blender, a mixer, or a chopper. We were green with envy until TCC revived the Kitchen Center, complete with a digital keypad and cool attachments. Good-bye, blender; hello, chopper! Professional organizer Maureen Gainer Reilly loves the cord-free, easy-storing appliances. “People leave appliances on the counter because it’s too much hassle to store them,” she says. “These can be just whisked away!” Base unit $299 (suggested retail), attachments $36 to $110, at nutonesales.com.
The Need for Speed
Time is often of the essence, but microwaves aren’t always the answer. Enter the double-walled Turbochef Speedcook oven, which circulates hot air at high speed to roast a 12-pound turkey to crisp-skinned perfection in 42 minutes. It comes paired with a traditional convection oven and has a cool retro look. Its seven Speedcook modes include “dehydrate” and “air crisp.” “This is for someone who really, really cooks,” says Stephanie Samuels, owner of Angel Food Bakery. “To learn all the functions, you’d kind of have to be a tech head.” $7,495. See turbochef.com for local distributors.
This dramatic Undertone undercounter Trough Sink from Kohler makes a big splash at parties. Pre-bash, a second cook can work here; then, fill it with ice and drinks so people can help themselves. “Guests always gather in the kitchen,” says Steve McDonagh, co-owner of The Hearty Boys Caterers. “Why not make a cool sink in the island a focus?” 22 inches to 60 inches, from $706, at Kohler, in LuxeHome at the Merchandise Mart, 312-755-2510; kohler.com.
BTUs are so 2002. Now it’s all about the CFM. That’s cubic feet (of air) per minute, and if you’re using a professional stove, your hood has to suck up a lot more of them. This custom-made Abbaka Luna pulls odors, steam, and flying grease out of your kitchen at a rate of 1,400 CFM, about three times the rate of the basic hood, but still looks sleek. “The Abbaka hoods are beautiful,” says Young, of the Chopping Block. “You need a strong hood if you have a stovetop grill-they make smoke in the house.” These hoods would be great for cooks who love to blacken foods or make sauerkraut-and whose pets weigh at least ten pounds. From $6,500, at Abt Electronics & Appliances, 1200 N. Milwaukee Ave., Glenview, 847-967-8830; abbaka.com.
Ready, Set, Simmer
Caldera’s new Arrow series gas cooktop with electronic touch controls gives you 21 precise flame settings, including eight “simmer” settings where the flames noiselessly cycle on and off. The precision control eliminates the need to peer under the pan to control the flame. Samuels, of Angel Food Bakery, likes the convenience: “You can melt chocolate without a double boiler or leave stock to simmer with no worry about a constant temperature.” $1,995, at Overture Custom Kitchens, 8S421 Oxford Ln., Naperville, 773-447-5851 (by appointment only); overturecustomitchens.com.