When the microwave was first introduced it seemed like it would be the perfect all-in-one kitchen appliance that made cooking as easy as setting a timer. But rubbery meats, scalding hot beverages, and soggy pizza slices proved otherwise. The Cinder Sensing Cooker, however, could very well be the perfect kitchen appliance for aspiring chefs who love cooking but don't always have the time to dabble in the kitchen.
It might look like a grill, but the Cinder's creators actually refer to their device as a "sensing cooker". And to compare the appliance to the kinds of devices that George Foreman puts his name on is kind of an insult. We've tested similar grills in the past that claim to be smart, but disappointingly found that they would consistently undercook half the food we put inside them. Grilled cheese sandwiches were easy, but sausages and steaks were apparently well beyond the supposed intelligence of these smart appliances. The Cinder promises to do better.
It features a pair of dishwasher-safe aluminium non-stick cooking plates — there are no ridges here — whose temperatures are continuously monitored and maintained by intelligent sensors accurate to within a quarter of a degree Fahrenheit. Food is placed in-between these two cook surfaces which end up completely enclosing it when the appliance is closed, and users then set a specific cooking temperature using either a knob on the Cinder or a wirelessly connected app. Everything else happens automatically.
The cooking surfaces can range in temperature from the ambient warmth of a room, to a blistering 288C to create that perfect sear on a steak once it's done cooking. And the advanced software behind the Cinder uses the constant info from the cooking plates' sensors, along with a predictive control algorithm, to ensure that the specified target temperature is always perfectly maintained to properly cook your food.
But it's the free accompanying Cinder app that might actually be the best reason to upgrade your George Foreman grill. Instead of just specifying a cooking temperature using the grill's knob, users can choose a specific level of done-ness for meats and vegetables right within the app.
And thanks to a gallery of mouth-watering imagery, you don't have to be an experienced chef to know the difference between rare, medium or well done. You just need to choose which steak looks most delicious to you — and that's probably the most difficult part of using the appliance. And it works just as well with vegetables. Need caramelised onions for a burger? Just toss them on the Cinder and select that cooking setting from the app's gallery of images.
The Cinder's advanced sensors and software are not only able to automatically maintain the perfect cooking temperature, they also provide information that the app can use to generate a fairly accurate ETA and countdown timer for when dinner will be ready. But don't worry if an alarm goes off on your smartphone or tablet and you're not quite ready to eat. Instead of having to dash to the appliance to take the food off the heat, the Cinder will automatically keep it at the perfect temperature for up to two full hours after cooking is complete. Your parents wouldn't even do that for you when you lived at home.
The only catch, and it's a big one, is that you can't actually buy one just yet. The Cinder Sensing Cooker is currently only available for pre-order on the company's website for $US500, and delivery isn't expected until early 2016 — almost a full year away if production goes smoothly. However, anyone who pre-orders before March 20 will actually be able to apply to be part of the Cinder's beta-testing program. You're not guaranteed a spot, but it means you might have a chance to get your hands on the cooker before everyone else, meaning you may never have to eat another microwave dinner ever again. [Cinder]