Even the best food could use a dash of ones and zeros. Geek out with us as we explore the intersection of food and technology this month.
Welcome to the future of cooking. It's clean, precise, requires very little thinking on your part and is done exclusively with a new kitchen appliance called the Cinder ($189, available for preorder now).
This electric countertop grill is like a cross between sous vide, the high-end slow-cooking water bath method used by restaurant chefs (and some serious home cooks, too), and the George Foreman grill, the everyday tool in every recent grad's kitchen. They say opposites attract, and in the case of the Cinder, these opposites have produced one beautiful baby.
Like a Foreman, this grill contains two plates that cook food on both sides. Like sous vide, it cooks at very precise temperatures. But unlike sous vide, the Cinder has the ability to sear and char food, offering the best of sous vide's detailed and slow approach but with dry cooking as opposed to wet.
Here's how it works: Using an app, cooks select a temperature, and the Cinder's plates heat up to that exact degree. If cooks don't know a specific temperature but know they like their steak medium rare, they can select that description on the app instead. The Cinder measures the thickness of the food to determine cooking time, and the app then signals when dinner is ready. Now, the Cinder isn't just for meat. It can caramelize onions and even make eggs.
J. Kenji López-Alt of Serious Eats tried it out and found that it not only "excelled at precision" but "completely eliminates the smoke and messy oil splatter that traditional stovetop searing will leave you with."
The Cinder seems so Futurama-esque that it makes sense that it actually employs rocket science. Eric Norman, who previously did product development for Toyota Japan, and Jim Reich, who has worked on space-launch vehicles, developed the machine. So, yep: The future of cooking involves rocket science.
However, our two cents: Cooking is a science, to be sure, but it's also an art. The Cinder is great for many things, but it might not be the be-all and end-all for those who actually like cooking. And that's the rub.