The Modern Cook

The rules and conventions in the kitchen have changed. So have the tools at a home cook’s disposal. Let’s take a look at what being a modern home cook looks like in 2021.

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Cooking is not what it used to be. Yes, a good pot and a flame are still integral but that barely scratches the surface of the possibilities that now exist. To some, it’s gotten more complicated, to others, much easier. No matter where you stand, it’s impossible to ignore that recent technological advancements in the culinary sector have created a new and unique cooking experience. 

NEW TECHNOLOGIES

Time-tested methods like braising and poaching make great food but, more and more, modern techniques like the sous-vide method and pressure cooking with an Instant Pot are being used by home cooks. While it may be true that pressure cooking is not a new method, long gone are the noisy pressure cookers that you have to watch over a heated burner. Now, electric pressure cookers with sophisticated sensor technology and smart Bluetooth pairing have created a massively different experience. 

Sous-vide (pronounced sue-veed) means “under vacuum” in french and refers to the process of vacuum-sealing food in a bag, then cooking it to a precise temperature in a water bath. It used to be that only expensive restaurants and high budget cooking shows could afford these water circulators but, over time, microchip sensors were developed that made them affordable for the mass market. Dollop’s test kitchen uses a sous vide machine frequently and there’s no turning back. The controlled temperature ensures a consistent result every time but, depending on what you’re cooking, the length of preparation time varies. Shrimp can take mere minutes, while a thick prime rib roast can take up to six hours. In all cases, the result is consistent and precise and one can argue that precision in cooking is everything. Without accurate temperature readings, meat, seafood, and other ingredients fall into what is commonly referred to as the danger zone, putting people at risk of salmonella infection. 

Without accurate temperature readings, meat, seafood, and other ingredients fall into what is commonly referred to as the danger zone, putting people at risk of salmonella infection.

A FRIDGE REVOLTUION

A refrigerator began as a food storage compartment that made it possible to buy items in bulk, then there was the addition of ice makers and water coolers. Now, we find ourselves in the midst of a fridge revolution! The advent of smart refrigerators with touch screen technology, music streaming capabilities, and smartphone connection, look like they’re from the future but they’re appearing in more and more kitchens around the world. 

A smart refrigerator is connected to the cloud, which is a shared internet data storage center made available by the Internet. This software allows people to stop storing and accessing information on their personal computer's hard drive. Depending on the features built into the fridge, like an interior camera, it lets you do such things as using your smartphone to see what's inside; share grocery lists with other family members through an application, and even receive alerts when the refrigerator's door is left open. Talk about a game-changer! Only a few manufacturers, such as Samsung are currently making smart fridges and, of course, these conveniences come at a premium. A non-smart refrigerator retails for around $1k, on average, whereas a smart fridge like ‘Samsung’s Hub’ will run you anywhere from $3-6k. 

Only a few manufacturers, such as Samsung are currently making smart fridges and, of course, these conveniences come at a premium.

SMART GARDENS

It was once true that if you lived in a small apartment without a balcony or yard, the only option for fresh herbs was the produce aisle at the grocery store. That is no longer the case, thanks to science. Largely inspired by NASA’s experiments in space horticulture, smart gardens were invented and have recently become very popular, especially among city dwellers. They are truly a game-changer for urban people living without outdoor space since these LED-lit smart gardens allow herbs in pods to grow indoors, without soil, using a computer to alert the user to add nutrients and an advanced light system to promote growth. 

As we learn how to embrace and use new culinary technologies to our advantage in the home kitchen, it is exciting to think of what lies on the horizon as well. There are rumors of talking stovetops, self-cleaning refrigerators and a heavier reliance on Alexa and Siri. Only time will tell.