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issue: June 2003 APPLIANCE Magazine

37th Annual Report on Cooking Appliances
Expanding The High End

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by Tim Somheil, Senior Editor

APPLIANCE magazine traveled to Orlando, FL, U.S., to report on the 2003 Kitchen/Bath Industry Show.

Combine. Integrate. Innovate. Cooking appliance engineers are merging their best technologies to produce high-style, highly functional cooking equipment.

Europe and North America have long had the same general cooking traditions and used similarly configured cooking equipment, but a decade ago there was a disparity seen between the two appliance markets. The perception was that Americans were largely disinterested buyers gravitating to mid-range products, while Europeans had a greater enthusiasm for stylish, high-performance cooking appliances and were willing to invest more to get them.

This began changing in the 1990s when the favorable U.S. economy, baby boomers aging closer to retirement, and other demographic factors spurred the Americans to cocoon.

Cocooning is driving change and expansion in small appliances in North America (see the April 2003 issue of APPLIANCE magazine for our 2003 International Housewares Show report, Continuing to "Cocoon"). So too has it spurred steady change in the market for cooking appliances, where the demand for style and high performance increased.

Even a less robust economy can't dampen the trend, as APPLIANCE magazine heard repeatedly from appliance producers at the Kitchen/Bath Industry Show (K/BIS) in Orlando, FL, U.S. from April 11-13, 2003. The physical evidence of this conviction was evident, with every appliance booth exhibiting more upscale, more stylish, more featured cooking products.

Dual Fuel - Worth Paying For

"The population is a little older, with more expectations of their appliances," observed Tony Evans, vice president, communications for Electrolux North America, in Martinez, GA, U.S. "People are still spending more time at home, entertaining more at home, and spending more on their homes."

Mr. Evans explained that consumers are increasingly looking at their appliances as products that can have greater value and offer more features.

"The market is staying strong and continues calling for a higher end product. We're responding by taking wish book products and making them more available," said Mr. Evans. "We've recently launched our new dual fuel range, for example, which sells at about $2,300."

Consumers have become increasingly interested in dual fuel ranges, a configuration with advantages in both cooking capabilities and easier cleaning. The cooktop has the instant-on performance of a gas flame, while an electric oven provides potential for convection cooking and self-cleaning.

Sub-Zero Freezer Company (Madison, WI, U.S.) acquired cooking equipment OEM Wolf Appliance Company of Compton, CA, U.S., 3 years ago, at which time Wolf did not offer dual fuel. There was an awareness of the growing consumer demand for the technology. As Paul Leuthe, corporate marketing manager, told APPLIANCE magazine, the company was eager to put a dual fuel product in its line-up, but also wanted the product to stand out in an increasingly crowded market segment.

Whirlpool's KitchenAid is launching the new generation of its KitchenAid® Pro Line™ Series with high-style and prominent branding. KitchenAid says it is introducing the first combined collection of major and countertop appliances. All feature bold styling and a high level of performance.

"This is an eye catching collection designed for serious cooks who want both high performance and cutting-edge design," said Jamie Moldafsky, KitchenAid vice president & general manager. "It’s professional caliber equipment that’s meant to be used and seen, not hidden behind panels and cabinetry."

KitchenAid is backing the Pro Line series with a comprehensive customer care and warranty program. Major appliances purchased in groups of four or more are covered by a 5-year care plan with an extended service program and priority access to a dedicated Pro Line series customer call center.

"We’ve taken a cue from the customer satisfaction and loyalty building practices of luxury automakers," Jamie Moldafsky explained.
The series' cooking appliances include a double wall oven, a gas cooktop, a warming drawer, and a ventilation hood. Collections of four appliances—a double wall oven, cooktop, refrigerator, and dishwasher—will carry suggested retail prices of U.S. $12,250 to $13,550.

Cooking Under Control

Wolf, specializing in commercial-style appliances, looked to the control of the unit as a way to differentiate itself, noting that electronic controls don't lend themselves to the commercial look many buyers want.

The answer for Wolf was to hide the electronic controls on a unique, spring-loaded panel that stays hidden, popping out when needed. It offers highly capable programmed control without looking electronic.

The range's commercial style knobs have the heavy look of a traditional mechanical control, but they are also electronic. Turning the coaxial knob that controls the oven will automatically go to a preset oven temperature, which the user can then adjust.

Wolf Range also looked for a control solution in its convection ovens, which are offered in the dual fuel range and as wall ovens. Wolf enlisted the help of Arthur D. Little in the design of a sophisticated two-fan system. Wolf, ADL, and component suppliers collaborated to develop the fans, the control system, and the airflow logarithms that operate the fans for optimal performance for each cooking application.


Wolf Range, a division of Sub-Zero, launched a new cobalt blue, speckle-free porcelain enamel oven interior to very favorable response. The new finish differs from many ovens in the category, which often have a black or a speckled blue porcelain finish.

Technology Facilitates Design

High-end cooking appliance maker Dacor has a long history of making ventilation products. The company launched its commercial-style raised vents in early 2003 after an intensive design process.

Brent Spann, marketing manager for Dacor, explained the company has had raised vents but aimed for truly commercial performance levels in the new design. To achieve this, the design allows for the grouping of multiple blowers to provide enhanced CFM levels. With two blowers, the vents provide up to 2,600 CFM.

"The technical challenge was in making a unit thin enough to achieve the design we wanted while accommodating the ventilation blowers and the motor to raise and lower the vent," Mr. Spann explained. "We accomplished this by building in a unique 8-A switch, which accommodates more than one blower."

Electrolux designed its European Integration cooker to provide more rational use of space through the combination of a microwave oven. Giving the traditional oven improved thermal insulation reduces wasted heat and provides user cost savings. Also built into the unit is a meat probe to help ensure even quality during food preparation.

In an April 22, 2003 speech by Electrolux president and CEO Hans Stråberg, he named the Integration as an example of innovative products coming out of Electrolux, noting that it provides energy savings of up to 40 percent compared with an ordinary oven.

Induction Cooking is nothing new - but it's unknown to most consumers worldwide.

In Europe, this electric cooking technology is used to some extent in commercial cooking applications, especially in regions where infrastructure or regulations prohibit cooking with gas. Consumer models have been offered for years, but the price of the technology has kept it out of most users' reach.

The safety benefits of induction over other electric cooktop technologies are numerous, and ties into the very nature of the technology: induction does not use a heating element. The induction device, placed below a smooth glass cooktop, generates heat in the cooking vessel itself using magnetism. The cooktop never reaches the extreme temperatures that can be created with the use of an under-glass heating element, an electric coil, or a flame. In fact, Swedish appliance giant AB Electrolux said that, when boiling a pot of water, the cooktop and the pot itself will reach a temperature just above 100°C (212°F), and frying foods brings the temperature to about 250°C (482°F). Electrolux said that, by comparison, a standard cooktop can reach temperatures as high as 600°C (1,112°F). The induction cooktop also cools quickly once the cooking vessel is removed. These behaviors make the cooktop inherently less likely to cause burns.

There are cleanability benefits as well - because the cooktop does not reach such high temperatures, spilled food will not cook onto the surface.

The performance is superior as well compared to most other electric cooking technologies, and many users consider induction to be on par with gas cooking performance. Electrolux, which is now making induction technology more widely available to European appliance buyers, said that water will boil up to three times faster on an induction cooktop, compared to other electric cooktops. Generally, it uses less energy than other electric cooking methods.

The biggest downside is purchase price. Another disadvantage - to some users - is the cookware limitations of the technology. Because it heats by magnetically exciting the cookware itself, the cookware must, of course, be magnetic. Put a non-ferrous metal pan on an induction cooktop and you'll never get your oatmeal bubbling. Glass and solid ceramic cooking vessels are unusable. On the other hand, induction cooking has a greater tolerance for cooking vessels without perfectly flat bottom surfaces, unlike some other smooth cooktop heating elements.

Coming To America

While there have been a scattering of induction appliances offered in North America in the last decade, consumers have had even less exposure to it than Europeans.

Change is coming, and much of the drive comes from one of the leading global suppliers of electric cooking heating elements, Ceramaspeed (Maryville, TN, U.S.). The company said it was motivated by consumer research that shows U.S. appliance buyers are looking for speed, controllability, cleanability, and safety.

Ceramaspeed will source its induction generators from ElcoBrandt, which sells induction cooking appliances in Europe under its Brandt, Semet, Sauter, and De Dietrich brands. The shallow depth of the induction generator provides extra versatility for mounting a cooktop in kitchen cabinets, and Ceramaspeed said the unit can even be mounted over a drawer.

Ceramaspeed made the announcement of its move into induction at the K/BIS Exhibition, where three appliance producers displayed induction products for North America:

  • Wind Crest, based in Anaheim, CA, U.S., is a maker of professional-grade appliance for the home. Wind Crest displayed a 36-in cooktop with five induction zones, and plans to introduce a 30-in, four-zone induction model.
  • Elmira Stove Works (Elmira, ON, Canada) is offering a four-zone induction cooktop on its antique-style appliances.
  • Waterbury, VT, U.S.-based Caldera Corporation displayed a two-zone induction cooktop.

In the microwave cooking arena, the evolution of electronic controls capability has led to an array of sophisticated user interfaces, including user instructions and recipes. Microwave makers continue advancing controls sophistication, with an emphasis on making microwaves more versatile and easier to use.

Design work is also focusing on helping consumers clean up their counters by incorporating other small appliances into their microwaves.

LG Electronics offers North American buyers a microwave oven with an integrated toaster and one with an integrated coffeemaker. In Korea and other markets LG has other toaster microwaves as well as models integrated with grills.

LG Electronics microwave oven with an integrated toaster.

Samsung began the North American marketing of its microwave/toaster combination, the Toast & Bake Microwave Ovenª, in September 2002 and the unit won a 2003 Kitchen & Bath Award from Home Magazine during the April 2003 K/BIS Expo. A Samsung concept product displayed at the same show combined a scale with a microwave. The scale is on top of the microwave, making use of what many users see as wasted space. The company has also combined a microwave with an FM radio/voice message recorder.

Samsung combined cooking technologies in its newest five-in-one microwave, announced in April and scheduled for retail availability in August 2003. The SpeedCook Over-the-Range unit enables microwave cooking, convection cooking, broiling, and two convection-broil combinations.

Samsung teamed up with Good House-keeping to program the appliance's recipes. The user simply keys in the recipe number from an accompanying recipe book, and the SpeedCook appliance provides the optimal cooking sequence.

The first model will have a touch panel display and is expected to have a retail price of U.S. $699. A later unit, controlled with an LCD display, is expected to retail at $899.

As consumers continue investing in their homes and looking for ways to make the most of their time, cooking appliances with true style, genuine performance, and real convenience benefits will attract their attention.

Sharp Electronics’ high-speed oven is designed to dramatically reduce cooking time and is programmed to automatically cook 200 foods and time-saving recipes. The Model R-90GC is equipped with a 2,900-W hot-air circulation system that rapidly cooks food in significantly less time than standard ovens.
“Those pressed for time can take advantage of Sharp’s innovative technology that enables cooking a wide variety of foods up to five times faster,” said Joy Daniel, senior manager, product development, Sharp Electronics Corporation (Mahwah, NJ, U.S.).

Swedish appliance giant Electrolux is continuing to expand its name recognition and enhance its profile among American consumers by importing European technology and brands. The company, said to be the number one commercial foodservice appliance producer in Italy and number three worldwide, is also investing more heavily in the North American commercial foodservice segment.

“In 2003 our professional foodservice group will introduce four new Electrolux brands into the U.S.: Electrolux, Zanussi, Dito, and Molteni,” said Tony Evans, vice president, communications, for Electrolux North America (Martinez, GA, U.S.).

Zanussi’s Food Safety Systems

More than 3,000 products are sold in Europe under the Zanussi Professional Systems brand name. This Made In Italy brand is designed for cooks interested in upholding the traditions of Italian cuisine.

Among recent foodservice innovations from Zanussi is a new cooking system designed to address the new European HACCP regulations. Guideline CE93-43, Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points, is intended to address methods of limiting the risk of microorganism contamination of food, but satisfying the regulations can be complicated. Zanussi’s ActiveCombi steam-convection oven is designed to offer a method to cook food safely and easily.

The chef sets the oven according to his recipes and presses a button to activate the FoodSafe Control. As the unit cooks it keeps the chef apprised as to the process status: a green light in the eye-shaped indicator means safe conditions have been reached, while a red light means cooking must continue in order to reach safe conditions.

After cooking, all the values of the established parameters for that particular cooking cycle are automatically recorded.

Zanussi Professional worked on developing its cooking process in collaboration with the Department of Food Sciences of Italy’s University of Udine. Key to the system is a new six-sensor probe, designed to record precise measurements of temperatures inside the food. The sensor readings are tied into a control system capable of storing up to 2,000 cook cycles, which the kitchen staff can recall and consult on an easy-to-read display. The system can also document results quickly using a special printer.

Molteni’s Podium

Molteni brand’s cooking appliance, the Podium, may turn out to be the star appliance in Electrolux’s new foodservice equipment endeavors. The unit is designed to combine innovative technologies with a dramatic design.

The Podium’s oval ellipse shape is intended to turn the appliance into a work of art while providing a high level of performance cooking capabilities for the restaurant chef.

Zanussi Pasta Station

Pasta preparation efficiency is achieved on the Zanussi Professional Pasta Station, said to be the only fully automatic system available today. It is designed to be a high-productivity food prep station that integrates several possible appliance combinations, such as automatic pasta cookers, work tops, electric ranges, a bain marie, storage cupboards, a mobile pasta freezer, blast chillers, and ovens. The station allows the restaurateur to serve assorted trendy pastas with a variety of sauces.

The key, unique appliance behind the efficiency of the station is the Zanussi Professional pasta cooker, which has four automatic lowering/lifting baskets with independent movement. The baskets are controlled to enable the preparer to cook four different kinds of pasta at the same time. The control system keeps the cooking water at the correct temperature to avoid overcooking, and starch removal and water refilling also happen automatically.

Zanussi Professional is a leading equipment producer for pasta-based menus, holding a market share in Italy of more than 40 percent.


In April, Maytag Appliances brand Jenn-Air introduced its Convenience Oven, designed to be the industry’s most compact built-in oven. This fully functioning wall oven, complete with bake, broil, toast and other modes, is designed to fit into a significantly smaller space. The 1.2-cubic-foot interior is designed specifically for entertaining staples, like appetizers, pizzas and rolls.

The Convenience Oven is 30 in wide and 22 in high, said to make it idea for nontraditional installations. Smaller size, Jenn-Air says, means it can heat faster than a full-sized, 4.0-cubic-foot oven, and makes it ideal for many of the foods prepared every day.

“Obviously, this isn’t going to be the only oven in anybody’s kitchen,” said Bill Deter, vice president of Jenn-Air. “However, in combination with a Jenn-Air single or double wall oven, it’s a perfect way to do the day-to-day cooking. In addition, with the growth of second kitchens and bar-area cooking stations, this provides a great new way for people to have more cooking options in a small space.”

On the opposite end of the size scale, Maytag Appliances introduced a new Maytag brand range with 5.22 cu ft of capacity, said to make it the largest-capacity range available. The larger capacity comes from decreasing the size of the oven drawer. The unit also is equipped with a Precision Cooking System, with dual-control bake-and-broil elements that cycle on and off more frequently than in a typical oven, to ensure even heat throughout the oven cavity.

The Jenn-Air Convenience Oven is 30 in wide and 22 in high, said to make it idea for nontraditional installations, including wet bars, great rooms, and recreation rooms



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