First there was the slow-cooker, which sparked the “set it and forget it!” mindset. Then came sous vide, a chef-beloved system of cooking protein in a slow-circulating water bath (which is now, for a price, available to the general public).
Now comes the Cinder, which claims to allow you to cook meat to a precise internal temperature without even being in the room. Press materials boast that this electric, kitchen-top appliance “reduces the elements of watching and monitoring involved in cooking and simply delivers the results you want, which frees you up to cook more difficult side dishes or entertain your guests.”
It’s like an upscale version of the George Foreman grill, but one involving an iPad or a mobile phone; you can start cooking remotely, or get texts to know that your burger’s ready. And starting this Thursday, it’s available for pre-order for $499. (It will ship starting in early 2016.)
What does the Cinder allow you to do? Well, if this video is any indication, it allows you to kick back on the couch and watch the game while your steak is cooked to precisely medium rare (and can “hold” your steak at that temperature, press materials claim, like a fancy version of the heat lamps that keep your fries crisp at a diner). The nonstick plates that line it are removable and dishwasher safe, and you can plop a steak on the Cinder and start cooking with the turn of a knob.
Co-founders Jim Reich and Eric Norman have engineering and product development backgrounds at Lockheed Martin and Toyota, respectively, and drew from satellite technology to create the Cinder. “Multiple sensors in the cooking plates [are] accurate to within 0.25°F,” and “the shape and materials are carefully optimized based on detailed simulation to even out heat flows and achieve constant temperature,” asserts a press release.
It’ll be curious to see how the Cinder, its steep price tag, and its advocacy for hands-off cooking will do. Anyone who has ever observed how many humans are required to grill, monitor, flip, and comment on the doneness or not-doneness of a single steak at a Memorial Day BBQ might wonder whether the Cinder will be palatable to our somewhat obsessive and fire-loving species.
Is half the satisfaction in cooking scallops, steaks, and burgers watching the flames lick at the pan or the grill? Will the Cinder take off?