With more than 2000 exhibitors representing 40 countries, the International Home and Housewares Show in Chicago is a one-stop shop to see the products that will fill the shelves of big box retailers and your pantry in the coming years. Our editors surveyed the offerings from brands both big and small to prepare you for the new wave of kitchen gadgets.
Multicookers, Multicookers Everywhere
Practically every major appliance manufacturer had some version of a multicooker on offer at this year’s Home and Housewares Show. KitchenAid, DeLonghi, CrockPot, Philips, Panasonic, Aroma and Cuisinart were just a few of the major players with recent or debut entries to the market. Although the category is not new, manufacturers are simplifying the user experience with one-button settings and offering more functionality (quinoa, pasta, bread or cake anyone?) Engineers have been able to figure out how to create a variety of specific presets for searing, steaming, frying, boiling, simmering or yogurt-making (more on this later), but it seems like industrial designers haven’t been tasked with creating a defining new form for this appliance category with most of the multicookers easily confused with a slow-cooker or a rice cooker.
One standout in the field both for it’s form and it’s promise of the one-pot meal, Gourmia’s GKM9000 is a wi-fi enabled smart multicooker that can help prep and cook a meal with a variety of blade and whisk attachments not to mention functions to chop, knead, blend, whip, grate, grind, steam or boil. A digital display on the machine shows pre-programmed recipes and tracks the progress of your meal while sending updates to your Android phone.
Microwaves Are Not Just for Leftovers Anymore
Thought microwaves were just for popcorn and leftovers? It’s time to reconsider that lonely box in your kitchen. Kitchenware darlings Joseph Joseph and OXO are just two brands introducing new lines of cookware specifically for your microwave. Joseph Joseph’s M-Cuisine range encourages the multifunctionality of the multicooker with a stackable 4-piece cooking set for steaming, boiling or griddling (really, just microwaving bacon).
Joseph Joseph also has a range of monofunctional products for microwaving pasta, poaching eggs or preparing and cooking an omelette. Of these, the rice cooker has the simplicity of a one-pot meal but with considered design details that the brand is known for. A rice paddle locks the cooking lid in place and also provides a handle for transporting the rice from microwave to table.
Eggs seem to be the most popular (and easiest) thing to cook in your microwave—whether you’re making an omelette, scrambling or poaching eggs. OXO’s silicone omelet maker was a standout with it deep and wide base designed to fold. Their bacon “griddle” also came with a kickstand that tilts the surface to help drain grease into a removable compartment.
If the Home and Housewares Show is any indication, it looks like America is ready to get in touch with it’s microbiome again. Pickling, fermenting and culturing have been bubbling up in the artisanal hinterlands. Now, major appliance makers are embracing the movement and are ready to lend a helping hand. Besides the many “yogurt” settings on multicookers, there were two standouts for the DIY culturing category. Molecule-R, known for their Aromafork and molecular gastronomy kits for the home chef, introduced a line of friendly fermentation jars for pickling, kombucha (with a spout!) and canning. Yogurt lovers who don’t want to give up valuable counter space can look forward to Cuisipro’s Collapsible Yogurt Maker. The semi-rigid silicone body has a one-touch on/off button and automatically shuts off after 10 hours.
The Great Outdoors, Indoors
A number of indoor grills are vying for American hearts and valuable counter space. From Le Creuset’s more traditional enameled cast-iron Extra-Large Double Burner Grill to Uchicook’s Steam+Grill, there was an indoor solution for your favorite outdoor activity no matter what your style. The most ambitious of the offerings comes from Philips with their Smoke-Less Grill. The countertop appliance uses an infrared heating element and a removable drip tray that stays cold throughout the cooking process—as fats and oils from the food drip through the cast iron grates, they collect into a cold pan preventing the smoke feedback. Engineers at Philips also determined, “the ideal temperature to sear exteriors, leaving interiors juicy and tender” is 446ᵒF. It takes about 6 minutes for the infrared element to heat the appliance to this ideal temperarture, and with its self-regulating heating element all you need is a simple on/off switch.
Panasonic’s Countertop Induction Oven debuted as the next generation in microwaves but it boasts a high-quality grilling option that can sear and sizzle a steak. With an induction stove and an infrared broiler, the CIO grills, bakes, toasts, and re-heats meats and vegetables while maintaining a crispiness lost in the steam-based cooking of microwaves.
Nature In Your Kitchen
There was an abundance of natural materials in kitchenware. New tableware and servingware using bio-plastics derived from rice husks, bamboo and palm add to the current offering of PLA (corn starch-derived) alternatives to plastic.
Reusable water bottles are undergoing a third wave in materials—from stainless steel and BPA-free plastics back to glass. Aladdin, a leader in the on-the-go lunch and tumbler space, introduced a “worry-free” double walled glass-lined water bottle with a Tritan plastic outer and a glass drinking surface. Storage containers are also moving away from the Tupperware plastics of the past to glass—with most companies taking notes from the category leader Glasslock.
From wooden handles on lids to stoneware storage, most of the natural materials on cookware is employed to add a natural feel to products. The arrival of non-stick granite surfaces is an evolution from the less durable ceramic coating. Everything from sautee pans to sauce pots had the characteristic speckle bringing the campfire vibes into a contemporary setting.
Silicone, Now in Sponge Form
With 3M owning 74% of the much-neglected cleaning sponge market, it’s always exciting to see new entrants in the category. This year’s International Home + Housewares “Best in Category” award for cleaning went to Kuhn Rikon’s silicone Stay Clean scrubber. Korean brand Easy & Home also showed a number of silicone scrub sponges, a product that is readily available in the Asian market but that we can expect making inroads into the United States in the next year.
Hot or cold, tea is experiencing the third wave coffee treatment with more people in the United States embracing the drink of choice for the rest of the world. OXO’s 12-cup Coffee Brewing System has a not-so secret secret—it doubles as an electric kettle for boiling water for your tea with precise temperature/volume controls allowing for maximum flexibility. OXO’s cordless adjustable temperature water kettle also features a nice nod to tea drinkers—the base includes the ideal water temperatures for brewing different types of tea and coffee.
Bodum, a brand built on its iconic Chambord french press, was also making tea for visitors in it’s newer Chambord 1L Tea Pot. The Tea Pot, along with the rest of the Chambord line, is being reintroduced with a soft touch handle. And Teforio, a smart brewing system for tea that we wrote about earlier this year, promises to be the smart appliance of choice for dedicated tea drinkers.
Stay tuned for our report on the newest “smart” kitchen appliances debuting at the 2016 International Home and Housewares Show.