A rise in status for home cooks is in the reckoning, thanks to the innovations offered by kitchen and appliance companies. Esther Faith Lew talks to four premium brands on how they have captivated their fans at hello.
A classic filet mignon, well seared on the outside, evenly cooked medium-rare from edge to edge with a texture that yields and melts in your mouth like butter. A chicken cordon bleu, crispy golden on the outside, rich and juicy on the inside and oozing with creamy Gruyère. A light and fluffy chocolate souffle that rises so delicately and perfectly to the occasion. Whichever your fancy, when gourmet desires and culinary aspirations inspire your daily menu, you know it is time to up the game and go from home cook to home chef.
Investing in the right kitchenware and appliances will close the gap between amateur- and professional-level cooking. Mastery of skills and instincts go a long way in the kitchen, but with technology backing you up, home chefs are able to concentrate on perfecting their dishes. The precision and ease of complex functions achieved by your culinary partner saves you time and keeps things composed with just the touch of a button, leaving you to entertain with poise.
The question for home chefs lies in the balance between technology and functionality, and finding the right fit for your needs rather than just following the latest trends.
Technology Vs Tradition
Kitchen and appliance companies have recognised the need for sophistication in the kitchen, going beyond the hardware to include the software that takes functionality to a whole new level. In the conversation regarding smart technology, Miele is one of the pioneering companies that have focused on customers’ need for connectivity with its Miele@home feature. Miele recognises the need for customers to multitask efficiently. The Miele@ mobile smartphone app for example, allows stay-home parents to keep an eye on the roast in the oven via camera, while engaging with the children in the living room, and simultaneously receiving notifications when your dishwasher is ready.
“Miele has believed in this connection for over 15 years now, having been the first domestic appliance company in the industry to offer connected appliances via innovative technologies, which have always been at the centre of our competencies - enabling our customers to stay flexible and guaranteeing convenience, quality, and safety for specific lifestyle needs,” says Syndy Neo-Khoo, Managing Director of Miele Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.
Echoing the importance of customers’ lifestyles and the demands of a multitasking society, Angeline Yap, Managing Director of Southeast Asia, V-ZUG AG shares, “Technology needs to work hand-in-hand with traditional functions to deliver on convenience, precision, and cleanliness. For instance, V-ZUG Combi-Steam appliances are configured with smart cooking sensors that represent cutting-edge cooking technology. With various automatic cooking functions, users save a lot of time during the entire cooking process from meal prep right down to cleaning. Take for example, the world-exclusive GourmetSteam: all it takes for a successful master menu is the press of a button. Or the BakeOmatic: your dishes are prepared automatically without you having to enter the cooking time, temperature, operating mode, or quantity first.”
Elaborating on this trend, Kitchen Culture’s CEO Lim Wee Li acknowledged the importance of wi-fi connectivity for the younger generation and stressed that while smart technology is good to have, it is important that functionality does not take a back seat in precision. “Technology can enhance the functionality of a kitchen but it must be used in the right way. What good is smart technology that enables you to turn your oven on from outside your home, but it cannot achieve accurate temperature control? La Cornue is a perfect example of maintaining traditional functionality in order to deliver the ultimate culinary experience for lovers of fine food, indulgence and gastronomy,” says Lim. He added that while early adopters are keen to invest in kitchenware with Bluetooth and wi-fi connectivity, the majority will wait because technology can fail.
Placing equal emphasis on technology and traditional functionality, Neo-Khoo adds, “Traditional functions can be seamlessly combined with innovation to optimise the user experience and enhance outcomes. Our technology addresses key concerns over energy consumption, uncompromising hygiene and gentle care, not to mention a new level of convenience.”
When it comes to technology, Liebherr has been leading the industry in refrigerator innovation. “The growing population of discerning young generation are well travelled and well connected. They prefer things to be convenient and easily accessible and this applies to home gadgets. Home appliances are getting intelligent and are able to be controlled via smart phone. Liebherr’s refrigerators are equipped with smart devices that allow customers to monitor sudden temperature fluctuation due to power failure or to activate SuperFrost cooling before returning home with a bag full of fresh groceries,” says Gian Paolo Glückler, General Manager, Appliances Division, Liebherr-Singapore Pte Ltd.
“The fundamental functions of a refrigerator does not change. But the evolving technology is important as it improves the quality and the duration of the storage of the food, and, concurrently observing the conservation of the environment – e.g. energy saving, environmental friendly materials,” he added.
The ongoing Covid-19 situation has led governments to enforce community lock-downs, and home cooks – as well as recent converts – have found renewed passion in cooking meals for their families. In Singapore, there has been a shortage of baking products in stores due to the surge in high demand. It has also spurred consumers to be wiser about grocery shopping and to question the source of the produce and the quality of their nutritional value. Rightly so, they are also looking for more effective ways of keeping food fresh and healthier ways of cooking with appliances that boast the right functions.
“We are able to respond valuably to these trends with our appliances, such as our steam ovens and vacuum drawers. Compared to traditional pans, steaming in combination with sous vide cooking, enables more convenient food preparation, without any grease, with a healthier result,” says Miele’s Neo-Khoo.
For keeping produce as fresh as possible, Liebherr developed the patented “Bio-Fresh” vegetable drawers which are now widely used in the industry as they provide ideal storage conditions for fresh produce. Another innovation is its new “seafood safe” which mimics the conditions of a fish market where fish lies on a layer of ice. “This kind of new technology keeps the market-fresh taste of food, preserves the nutrients and also helps to avoid food wastage since it doesn’t get easily spoilt in these perfect storage conditions,” says Glückler.
The Luxe Factor
“With the rise of open-concept homes, the contemporary kitchen is now often the centrepiece of the interior. The design should be a harmonious combination of exquisite details and fine finishing. Built-in appliances, such as premium flat design ovens and dishwashers should blend in seamlessly with the visual style of the kitchen, just like furniture,” says Yap from V-ZUG. “The KonMari method has definitely influenced the way our customers design their kitchens. Customers want to only showcase cherished cookware and prized appliances that elevate their kitchen,” she adds. Li from Kitchen Culture shares that the natural stone look is becoming popular. “It is common to find laminates that mimic natural marble such as Statuario. Even quartz tops are also following this trend. Our Eggersmann kitchens are the ultimate in luxury kitchens using natural stone finishes, using specially selected natural stone as a singular material for all visible surfaces, resulting in a monolithic impression. The attention to detail is evident: front and side panels, handle profiles, worktop surfaces are made with just one identical material, all engineered to perfection.” He added that kitchens look luxurious when quality materials such as enamel, stainless steel, copper, brass, bronze and black chrome are accentuated in the details.
Miele’s Neo-Khoo added that high-quality materials, innovative technology and an outstanding appearance are of the essence for luxury domestic appliances.