When I got back from the Housewares Show in March, I wrote about what I saw as a new trend emerging in the form of what I was calling "Guided Cooking Systems". At the show, I had talked to three upstarts creating new products that didn't seem to fit into any existing cooking category. Sure, these products combined we had identified as some of the hotter trends in the future kitchen overall - like connectivity, induction heating, app-driven control and guidance - but it was the combination of the three that made me think we had something.
When you think about traditional appliances, whether it's something as simple as an electric skillet to the more advanced multi-cookers coming to market in the last few years, one unifying characteristic is that these appliances are completely self-contained products. Sure, microwaves and large appliances such as wall ovens or ranges have all started to incorporate connectivity and more advanced computing technology, but even with these advances these products are still usually about the one device.
With a guided cooking system (let's just use the acronym GCS for short), you have what can only be described as a "system", in that the product works through the three different parts working in concert. The three main components of a GCS are:
- Modular, connected cookware. This can come in the form of connected cookware such as a frying pan or pot (the Hestan Cue will offer both a Bluetooth connected pan and pot as part of their system, while Denmark based Ztove has a Bluetooth connected pan), a connected sensor probe working in concert with the rest of the system like with the Cuciniale Connected Cooktop, or through a modular plug-in system of connected cookware like with the Oliso Smart Hub or the Paragon Induction Cooktop. This component's value is derived by modularity and the connectivity that enables it to communicate with an induction heating burner.
- An induction heating burner. The heating surface, working in concert with the sensor-enabled cookware or probe, bring the responsive and precise temperature control needed to be a precision cooking system.
- App driven guidance. While there's been some debate within the smart kitchen community about what to do once you add connectivity to a device, there's no better example of how connectivity can add significant value than what app-driven guidance and control of the cook brings to the table. With app guidance, you not only have the conductor of the "concert" that is a guided cooking experience, but you also have a visual guide and teaching element that comes with the presence of media rich app tied to a cooking experience.
It should be noted that each of these elements are, on their own, all interesting and deserving their own attention. Further, each - connectivity, visual/app driven guidance and induction heating - are all trends we are observing gaining momentum in the kitchen. But it's the combination of all of these elements that create this thing we are calling a Guided Cooking System - or GCS - that is unique and something we are definitely identifying a wholly new appliance category.
I recorded a podcast yesterday (we will publish it next week) with Hestan Cue's Chief Scientist Darren Vengroff, and when I asked him if he thought GCS is something new, he went on to say this: "I think what you’re getting at with a system is kinda the key. It’s the three main components - there’s the app with the guidance. There’s the cookware with the embedded temperature sensors. And there’s the induction burner which can communicate over Bluetooth as well and can adjust the heat and power accordingly. If you had any one of those, or even any two of those, you’re nowhere near where you are with the three put together."
While he's describing his own system in the Hestan Cue and its specific characteristics, the general concept - app, sensor-powered cookware and induction heating - can be applied to others like Oliso, Cuciniale and Ztove.
Darren was there at the beginning of the modern sous vide movement, helping to run seminal cooking site eGullet (where Nathan Mhyrvold began to research what would become the definitive guide to modern cooking science in Modernist Cuisine) and eventually created popular sous vide app Sous Vide Dash. He clearly has good instincts in identifying new cooking trends and so his comments about GCS validates, at least in my mind, tell us we're onto something.
You should be too. Get ready for the Guided Cooking System.