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08 December 2009

FOR THE LOVE OF COOKING

I love to cook. Actually I enjoy the process of cooking, the preparation, selecting the ingredients, laying out my tools, cooking my meal and then to finally serve it to my family and guests. As with most chefs, professional or amateur, I nibble my way throughout the undertaking and have little room to actually sit and eat with my guests, but to sit and talk, to eat and drink and just commune with one another is its own reward.

I am glad to say that there has been a renascence in kitchen design over the last few years, maybe it’s because of the current economic times we live in and people are staying home more and eating meals around the family table has once more taken center stage. What has changed, or maybe a better word would be, evolved, has been the democratization of the family kitchen. This once private domain of the feminine world has now given way to a new social order that reflects the world that we live in. Everyone is welcomed, if not expected to participate in the ritual of preparation.

And with this increased activity and additional bodies in a high-traffic ballet of fire, boiling water and sharp pointy things…we find that the assembly-line kitchen of the past, with its uniform horizon of sink, dishwasher, cook-top, oven and refrigerator, forever locked in its limited one-person “work-triangle”, must now give way to a new way of thinking.

Appliances once dictated the form and flow of the kitchen, today they have all been replaced by the individual or individuals and the task and then the appliances and the space needed to fulfill the task. With a variety of people and activities in this enclosed environment, we must create a fluid, interactive, multifunctional arena, where tools and materials are close at hand and within a given task boundary.

Much like selling toilet paper, the primary use of the product is seldom addressed. The same has gone for modern kitchen design. Over the past several years, the collective thought of modern kitchen design was to create the “illusion of order”. This was accomplished by hiding the true function of the kitchen. By hiding the food, the waste and the appliances, we create the illusion of productivity and efficiency by hiding the process.

With cooking returned to the primary function, the kitchen must be efficient to be productive, an environment conducive to the task at hand. To this end we have reached out to the commercial kitchen to better understand the true meaning of efficiency, a world that clearly defines the boundaries of form and function and where the poetry of chaos is the rule of order. The commercial kitchen is designed around a menagerie of players, each with a task or goal to fulfill, all working independently, all working to the same conclusion and all working in perfect harmony.

Next Week: Bringing the Commercial Kitchen Home

22 August 2009

ONE SIZE FITS ALL...THE NEW KITCHEN MATRIX

The 60cm x 60cm (24”x24”) oven size has long been a European standard for over 30 years. It was introduced in Germany in the mid-1960’s as a form of consumer protection.

This standardized oven size would allow consumers to replace their oven with newer models with new options, features and aesthetics, not on the size of the hole left by the old oven. The US appliance industry could learn a thing or two from their European cousins, as almost every US manufacturer builds their product to their on standard, forcing the American consumer to purchase a new oven from the same supplier or having to remodel the existing kitchen to allow for new appliances.

For the first time in nearly 30 years, a new size matrix of 60cm x 45cm (24”x18”) has been introduced into the US market by the Europeans. First launched in the form of a steam-convection oven and then as an integrated coffee machine. Now all cooking elements are available, including a convection oven, steam-convection oven, micro-convection oven as well as a coffee system and now, for the first time in the US, a fully integrated TV.

The new aesthetic opens up a whole new design opportunity for personalization, with the ability to introduce in line cooking as well as the opportunity to place cooking elements throughout the kitchen and living areas. With personalization at the forefront of modern kitchen design, we find that this new matrix offers the consumer the ability to mix and match appliances to reflect their individual cooking style. Though one size may not fit all...I am sure that it will find a much appreciated niche.

05 July 2009

The Chefs Secret...Cooking with Steam

Great chefs…like great magicians, have always had their little secrets that make an ordinary meal magical. Küppersbusch, one of the world’s largest and oldest manufacture of commercial restaurant equipment, now makes one of those little secrets available to the home owner. The secret to a great meal is the right amount of dry heat with just the right mixture of moisture and with the Integrated Steam Oven their secret is now yours.

For centuries, the ancient Chinese used reed or bamboo baskets to steam cook their meals. They understood the power of steam to keep food crisp, while at the same time releasing the natural flavor without losing nutrients. Just like you find in any fine restaurant, a residential steam oven allows you to cook meat and vegetables without losing moisture, nutrients and flavor.

Today the Integrated Steam Oven, combines the advantages of a steam oven and a convection oven in a single appliance. This ingenious dual-function oven combines the dry heat of a convection oven with non-pressurized steam in just the right calculated balance. Combining hot air and steam injection allows for all kinds of cooking opportunities from defrosting to steaming to baking to browning, from the perfect roast to the flakiest pie crust to crisp vegetables.

The Integrated Steam Oven offers a host of benefits including faster cooking times as well as optimum retention of vitamins, nutrients, flavor, color and texture. With steam cooking, food absorbs only the moisture it requires – which means never over cooking. Food prepared in the Integrated Steam Oven will prove to be healthier for you as you will not need to add oils or fats to keep food from drying out in the cooking process.

Here are a few models to check out for yourself:

Gaggenau BS 270/271

Küppersbusch EKDG 6800.0M

Miele DG 4082







03 July 2009

Radiant vs Convection

One of the most common questions asked during my speaking engagements is “What is the primary difference between a traditional radiant oven and a convection oven”. Besides the simple benefit of energy savings due to triple pane glass, advanced insulation and faster cooking times…the fundamental difference between a regular oven and a convection oven is airflow…convection has it and radiant does not.


At the core of all oven technology is the ability to generate heat. The heat generated in a traditional radiant oven is that it is “static” or simply put…it does not move, while the air in a convection oven is in constant movement with the aid of a fan. This air movement ensures that the temperature is equal throughout the oven cavity, so foods are cooked evenly, regardless of position in the oven.


"In a radiant oven, the temperature can differ from one area to another within the oven cavity, but with a convection oven, the fan distributes the air evenly throughout the oven, ensuring a consistent distribution of heat. In a traditional radiant oven, hot spots may acquire and food will dry-out, while food prepared within a convection oven will be browner, crisper and, in many cases, moister.


The Advantages of convection Cooking. ·



  • Faster Cooking -- As the air is virtually static in a radiant oven, it takes a while for the heated air to warm the layer of cold air that surrounds food. In a convection oven, the fan in the back of the oven circulates the air up to 90 times a minute before expelling, so the entire oven heats quicker, cutting cooking times by up to 25 percent. ·

  • Multi-Layer Cooking – With convection, it is like having several ovens in one as you can prepare several items on different levels all cooking at the same time without flavor transfer. For example, with convection you could bake four or five levels on cookies all cooking evenly at the same time. By contrast, cookies baked on several levels in a radiant oven need constant attention to avoid uneven cooking and burning. oven, ·


  • The Plus Side – When using a convection oven you will notice that breads, rolls and cookies will be browner on the outside and lighter and softer on the inside. In addition, when cooking on multiple levels, like baked chicken on one rack and roasted garlic potatoes on another, both items will cook evenly.

Convection Cooking Tips: ·



  • Convection Ovens heat up faster than Radiant, so need for pre-heating. ·


  • Convection Ovens cook 25% faster than radiant ovens. So adjust your recipes and cooking times accordingly. When roasting meats, don't change the temperature, simply cut the cooking time by about 25 percent. ·


  • When roasting turkey or chicken, use a low sided pan with rack. This allows for complete circulation. With convection, no basting is necessary as the hot hour seals the bird and keeps the bird moist. ·


  • Do not cover or use cooking bags as this negates the benefits of convection cooking.

Check Out these Resources:

Fagor

Kuppersbusch

Gaggenau

Miele

17 April 2009

Dave. Your coffee is ready. Dave?

THE CONNECTED KITCHEN
“Good morning Kevin” comes a disembodied voice similar to HAL, the self awarded computer from 2001. “You're up early today…did you sleep well?” “Just fine Kitchen” I respond “I have an early morning meeting at the office…so I’m in a hurry”. “Coffee or Cappuccino?” comes the voice…”Coffee please” says I…”Cereal or eggs?” asks the Kitchen. “Just toast this morning” I answer…”CNN or Sponge Bob” as the screen on the refrigerator comes to life…and so my day begins. Science Fiction? No, just a glimpse of things to come.

Fugoo, in partership with Microsoft has developed a new applications platform for the development of a new generation of neo-diginet (digital Internet) devices. These new devices will deliver rich information and content to "anyware" and "everyware" in the home. A myriad of different styles and form factors will be available to personalize your experience from the comfort of your kitchen. This groundbreaking application will allow appliance and kitchen designers to easily create new products that are "smart" as well as internet enabled.

Just imagine for a moment in the not so distant future when your Fugoo enabled home will permit your dishwasher to call you at work to let you know that it has sprang a leak…but not to worry, it has already informed the service company and they will be out between 9 and 12 on Tuesday.

Or maybe you are caught in rush-hour traffic and you will be 30 minutes late…so you call your oven from your cell phone to recalibrate the cooking time on your roast to be ready at 8:30. Even better your oven will be able to connect with the manufacturer to self-diagnose it-self as well as down-load new recipes and cooking instruction

With this new networking application your refrigerator will be able to take inventory of itself and has placed an order for all pre-programmed items to be replenished automatically with an online grocery service. It has also ordered a few additional items that will be needed for tonight’s dinner party. It may even make a few suggestions for wine.Networked appliances will be the next big thing to hit your kitchen…with “Fugoo” technology slowly creeping into all of our home electronics…it will be just a matter of time before the kitchen, once again becomes the central core of family life.
Appliances that think and plan-out menus, re-order and re-stock are already on the assembly lines. The next wave of microwaves will have a scanner to read the package of chili or popcorn and then preset itself for operation.

The family calendar on the refrigerator will update everyone’s calendar, from Mom’s computer at work to sis’s cell phone. It will be able to download and update brother’s ipod with all of his favorites and Dad can check on the solar collectors on the roof as well as the energy consumption for the entire house…he will even be able to turn off lights from his cell. It will keep everyone informed with all of the days events and activities, including soccer practice and dental appointments…It will even remind Grandma to take her pills and Grandpa that he has a 6:30 Tee-Time.

As for the other appliances…as they are connected to the internet…they will received electronic up-grades and they can self diagnose problems and download cures. One day your kitchen will read your personal electro-magnetic field when you enter the kitchen and begin to brew your favorite beverage and up-date your portfolio, all while you wait for your bagel to be toasted.
Eventually the kitchen itself will become one huge, connected appliance that reads your lifestyle patterns, anticipates your needs for food, lighting, entertainment, and cleanup, and performs functions automatically -- all without an explicit human command.Whether this kitchen comes to pass, the modern kitchen will continue to be the heart, if not the hub, of the modern home, an essential element in our daily lives that touches and affects us both physically and emotionally, a place where we seek communion, rejuvenation, and sanctuary. Of all the items we will choose for our home, today’s kitchen will provide us with a unique outlet for creation and self-expression.