What’s cooking in the kitchen these days? Plenty, from new twists on design to super-smart technology.
French Door Ovens
French door wall ovens are stylish, but they’re also a great choice in limited spaces because you don’t have to allow room for a conventional door to fold down in front. This new GE Monogram® model is equipped with Bluetooth so that you can control oven functions remotely with your smartphone — say, if you want to preheat while you’re hung up in traffic so that dinner still hits the table on time.
Induction cooking, which heats via electromagnetic field instead of through radiant heat, is all the rage because it’s speedy and allows you masterful control over simmering. And now smartphone-inspired touch-and-swipe controls make the connection between you and your cooktop element even more intuitive — just drag your finger around the arc to adjust the heat for each zone as you cook. Shown is a GE Monogram® induction cooktop.
White is back — but it doesn’t mean you have to revisit the 1980s (whew). The modern take on white appliances is all about high-tech surfaces and innovative design touches. For example, Ice Collection appliances from Whirlpool have a glossy finish inspired by smartphones and include stainless steel handles for a fresh, clean look.
Steam ovens cook food much faster than conventional ovens do and help food retain its nutrients and flavor. This Wolf oven combines steam and convection modes with a series of pre-set programmed recipes so that all you have to do is put the food in — the oven does the work of figuring out which modes to apply to get the best results. You can even tell the oven what time you want your dish to be ready, and it will turn on and adjust the cooking process as necessary to finish at exactly the right moment.
New induction cooktop models are being outfitted with all kinds of neat tricks, like this Bluetooth-enabled sous vide accessory from GE. Sous vide, a restaurant cooking method that can be tough for home chefs to pull off, involves slow-cooking via temperature-controlled water bath, which results in tender texture and intense flavors. The GE accessory communicates with the cooktop, keeping the temperature even and under control, so you don’t have to stay tethered to the stove
Vintage styles are making a big comeback with the help of companies like Big Chill, which developed its Retro appliance line as a fresh take on the hot colors of the 1950s, according to co-founder Orion Creamer. You can buy Retro fridges, ranges, microwaves and dishwashers in eight standard colors: Beach Blue, Pink Lemonade, Cherry Red, Buttercup Yellow, Jadite Green, Black, White and Orange. (Custom colors are available, too.)
Countertop Beer Brewing
For the small sacrifice of 20.5 inches of countertop width, you can turn your kitchen into your own custom microbrewery. The PicoBrew Zymatic® allows craft beer enthusiasts to brew whatever styles they choose at home — and track data from their brewing sessions via smartphone app. Brewing ingredients in the machine takes around four hours, followed by a fermentation and chilling period of up to three weeks in a separate keg.
Bluetooth technology is revolutionizing the way we use kitchen appliances. GE’s version of Bluetooth, called ChefConnect™, allows its Profile Series range to speak to the microwave, synching up clock times and automatically turning on vents and lights when the cooktop is in use. According to Lou Lenzi, industrial design director for GE Appliances, GE is working on its next innovation, which aims to synchronize cooking times for the microwave, range and oven so that main dishes and sides all arrive at the finish line simultaneously — and perfectly cooked.
Specialized Fridge Storage Zones
The days of the simple crisper drawer are long gone. Now, highly specialized storage zones make your refrigerator a precision tool. Whirlpool’s PerfectPlaces™ system, for example, has nine distinct storage zones, including a freezer pocket for boxed pizza and a temperature-controlled drawer with a setting for thawing frozen meats.
The Opal Ice Maker is the first appliance that allows you to make soft, chewable nugget ice at home just like you find in restaurants and at fast-food chains. But if you want one, you’ll need to sign up now for delivery in July 2016 — it’s a prototype product being funded by Indiegogo. Opal was designed by GE’s FirstBuild™ Community, a collaborative manufacturing initiative with a microfactory on the campus of the University of Louisville. FirstBuild is a way for innovative appliance ideas to get produced and marketed quickly — other cool ideas they’ve turned out include an easy-load oven with slide-out drawers and a refrigerator water pitcher that refills automatically.
Gray is holding strong as a trendy kitchen color, and it isn’t just about cabinets — you can take your appliances gray as an alternative to stainless steel. GE Appliances’ Slate collection has a dark brushed-metal finish that’s actually matte and fingerprint-resistant.
If you do lots of cooking at home, you need a look that wears well through heavy use, which is why the simple, rugged aesthetic of an industrial kitchen remains popular. Now, Big Chill has introduced the Classic Series, a professional stove and hood specially made for industrial-style kitchens. The set is constructed of heavy-duty stainless steel, comes in six colors, and is finished with mixed textured metals.