QUICK RUNDOWN OF THE KITCHENAID CHEF TOUCH
|Image of the KitchenAid Chef Touch|
Their website indicates that the Chef's Touch Solution is comprised of three parts:
- Chamber Vacuum. The chamber vacuum will support bags and containers, both sold by KitchenAid. The only bit of technical details I could glean form the website was: "the residual pressure inside the bag is just 5 mbar compared to the 350-500 mbar offered by other machines, ensuring an optimal vacuum that means your food will be preserved for longer compared to traditional refrigeration.". While not explicit, reading between the lines makes me think you cannot control the amount of pressure, which may limit compression applications. Either way, it's still pretty impressive that they are shipping a chamber vacuum for home kitchens.
- Steam/Combi Oven. The website indicates two oven models, one exclusively using steam and the other a combi oven, using hot air and steam. Alas, they are somewhat vague on the technical details. I would love to see how temperature stable this is. My initial inclination is that it won't actually matter if it is less accurate than a water bath.
- Blast Chiller. The blast chiller is used if you want to utilize the cook/store benefits of sous vide. It two modes, one for refrigerator ('blast chilling') storage and one for freezer ('fast freezing') storage. The blast chiller will bring which will bring food temperature down to 3ºC and -18ºC respectively. This might be an overlooked component in current home appliances. The consumer market currently doesn't offer any solution other than suggesting manual methods of rapidly cooling down items in ice water. Even though it raises the price significantly, it will simultaneously remove some of the safety objections people have with sous vide, and differentiate itself from smaller appliances.
Either way, unless your house could appear on MTV cribs, you probably will not be buying one of these. The first microwave ovens were also prohibitively expensive, and now you probably can't give your microwave away.
Whirlpool's earnings press release also indicates that this was launched from KitchenAid Europe:
Whirlpool Europe Region launched:Which means, Americans are currently out of luck.
-- The KitchenAid brand Chef Touch cooking system for home use, a cooking system that previously was available only for commercial use by top-rated restaurants around the world. The Chef Touch system features three different products: the vacuum-sealing system; the steam-assist oven; and the blast chiller.
RANDOM MARKET THOUGHTS FROM AN UNQUALIFIED JACKASS
This won't compete with Fresh Meals Magic's offerings, the SousVide Supreme or any of the consumer focused sous vide devices. If anything, this will help the space grow and mature, especially if KitchenAid invests heavily in the marketing of the Chef Touch. It isn't even all that likely that this will eat into the portion of PolyScience customers that would have bought a chamber vacuum and an immersion circulator. This would be true even if the Chef Touch was available in markets besides Europe.
Long term, KitchenAid or anyone of its ilk getting into this game makes for some interesting challenges for the current players in the consumer market. Obviously, KitchenAid (or Kenmore) can achieve scale easily and have a lot of money to market their products. But also consider this, many home kitchens today are built with microwave ovens. They are as aestetically pleasing as we expect and they generally match the other appliances. Of course, for the world of sous vide, that's far from tomorrow.
Finally, please remember that I am an unqualified jackass, who specializes in armchair analytics and shit talking. Although, I have heard from some people that I am, in fact, a fully-qualified jackass.
Would you buy one of these? How much would YOU spend?