Cooking with a chef and bunch of talented interior designers makes you realize how lax your cooking skills have become at home. ;-)
I used to cook a lot. Really, I did. I used to entertain all the time when we lived in Norway and Australia. That’s just what you do when living overseas, it is how you establish some extended familial connection while away from your home and real life family.
However, once my kids left home and my husband started experimenting with cooking as a hobby, I stepped aside and let him take over in the kitchen.
Much to my surprise and delight, he has totally adopted the role of “head chef” in our house and I am extremely pleased about that!
It has given me time to focus on my business for the past 10 years and stay late at work when necessary. He even grocery shops!
So, when I stepped behind the counter at the beautiful, fully equipped kitchen in the Monogram showroom at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago with a chef, a sous chef, and 9 other designers…..I was a little nervous about making my own omelet. :-)
Of course, all the prep work had been done. All the ingredients were spread out, chopped and ready to go. We had the choice of using gas or induction cooking and THAT was one of the reasons I had come, to cook on induction.
So, I stepped up to the induction cooktop.
I turned on the unit, slipped a small pat of butter in the pan (which melted perfectly, almost instantly) and scooped in some egg mixture.
Pushing the eggs to the middle, I noticed the egg mixture was quickly setting, the eggs were becoming so evenly cooked all over the pan. In a flash, my omelet was done!
Voila! I haven’t totally forgotten how to cook!
Back at home, cooking with my gas cooktop
Back at home, I tried an omelet this weekend, just to see how it cooked on my JennAir gas cooktop, with the whole induction thing still fresh on my mind.
My cooktop has the downdraft in the middle because my island is only 24” deep. No room for a downdraft mounted at the back of the unit, that takes an additional 3” depth in the cabinet.
When I redid my own kitchen several years ago, I left the island and space around the island as is, because well, of that downdraft. We have a second floor above and I didn’t want to do so much work moving the venting around. Besides, I like the placement of the cooktop here, it is super convenient, right behind the sink.
I needed the center downdraft to keep the layout I had and JennAir was the only manufacturer who made a cooktop with that feature.
So, while my omelet here at home wasn’t bad…..
I could see how the flame was getting pulled sideways, almost into the downdraft, from the burner. I could see hot spots and places left uncooked, in the pan, as the eggs were cooking. And of course, there’s the flame that has ignited one thing or another on the cooking surface before with my careless actions.
I dare admit….I’ve even left the burner on by accident, on more than one occasion.
My point here, is that I did see, with my own eyes, how induction cooking was faster, safer, and much more accurate in the heat distribution.
I can see how a more finely tuned appliance can get you better results in your cooking.
Chef Jon’s Favorite Cooktop is induction
If you can’t take the word of a chef who uses these appliances every day, then who can you trust. Right?
Chef Jon, the head chef of the Monogram showroom, really sold me on induction. It is, hands down, his preferred cooktop.
He said he automatically goes to it for the quick preparation, the ease of use, the accuracy that it brings. All this and, steps away, the gas cooktop sits ready for use.
here’s a little more about the induction cooktop.
Induction cooking is magnetic. The heat is drawn to the pot or pan, without heating the surface of the glass top because of some iron in the pan.
So, your cast iron skillet should do just fine. Stainless that has a magnetic grade stainless at the base of the pan will work. Copper won’t.
I love the very flat surface of this cooktop. I’ve seen the Viking induction cooktop and it is slightly raised with a canted edge that I think would likely catch spills and crumbs a lot. So, the flat edge seems great with the Monogram one.
I also liked the silver finish for light colored countertops. I haven’t seen any other brand with a lighter color offering. They do offer black too, for dark countertops.
Here, below, is Chef Jon demonstrating how to turn it on. You tap the center button, then use your finger to dial in the heat you want. It is super easy to get an accurate desired temperature.
There are other advantages to induction…..clean up and safety.
Could you leave a cooktop looking like this, below, while cooking is going on with a gas cooktop? No, of course not.
You can with induction, because induction only heats where the pan contacts the cooking surface. That utensil won’t be getting burned or hot either, because heat does not escape from the surface at the bottom of the pot.
And here are some more pics of our group cooking with Chef Jon.
Here’s a hearty chicken stew he prepared for us from the induction cooktop.
My friend Deborah von Donop, a Connecticut designer, and I made a berry crumble in the Advantium oven for dessert. (I even set my phone down for a minute!)
The Advantium oven was another impressive appliance here for me. It cooks with halogen light to crisp, brown and toast and then uses microwaving to cook food internally. You would use this oven in lieu of a microwave, however, it cooks with much more diversity and capabilities.
We had pork tenderloin, chicken, and our berry crumbles among other delicious food that was prepared in this oven.
The great thing about this oven is that you don’t have to sit there and figure out how to adapt your recipes. There are 175 different presets on this oven that take the guesswork out of the timing and cooking levels. It is super easy to dial in the food you are wanting to cook.
I came home talking about this oven to my husband, as our next kitchen will definitely have one. I love the speed with which this oven cooks and how perfect everything turns out. It doesn’t hurt that it is pretty fail-safe too. :-)
Imagine the perfectly toasted sandwich with melty cheese inside. That’s what the Advantium oven can do.
That pork tenderloin, below, was so juicy and tender! Melt in your mouth!
Lastly, I can’t not mention the indoor pizza oven.
This baby is pure luxury, a very hot pizza oven (the heat is inside, not out in the kitchen) where you can cook way more than pizza. Each oven, however, is custom built, so a nice price tag hangs on this one.
Makes perfect pizza literally in minutes!
I learned lots more too, about their dishwashers, refrigeration, ovens, etc. So, just a few highlights there…..
They have a dishwasher with sprayers located just below the silverware rack and below one side of the upper rack where you would put inverted bottles or smoothie containers for extra cleaning down deep in the container.
They have two kinds of ice machines, nugget (my fave) and clear gourmet. The nugget is great for ice crunchers like me and drinks like icy water, iced tea, sodas, etc. (It’s Sonic ice basically, if you’re from the south.:-) The clear gourmet ice is for cocktails and is slow to melt.
They have that nice French door oven that is excellent for universal design principles and works great as a pro oven. You can open it with one hand! And their stainless racks with ball bearing glides can be left in the oven when doing a self-clean.
Okay, I’ve hit the highlights here. Now go home and cook something! If I can do it, you can too! :-)
And be sure to check out some Monogram appliances for your next kitchen update!