Hands-on: Electrolux Grand Cuisine range tested
How much do you like to cook? Are you a "throw it in the microwave" kind of person, or someone who actually wants to spend hours labouring in the kitchen to create the best dishes you can?
Following the success of TV shows like MasterChef, cooking at home is on the up, as people head into the kitchen to recreate the magical dishes they see on the television. Electrolux, seeing our appetite for good cooking done not only professionally, but also simply, has launched a range of appliances for those who want nothing but the best.
To see the new Electrolux appliances in action, Pocket-lint was invited to the chef's table at Hibiscus, a restaurant awarded two Michelin Stars and operated by Claude and Claire Bosi in Maddox Street, Mayfair, London.
There are eight appliances that make up the Electrolux Grand Cuisine range: a combination oven, blast chiller, induction zone, sear hob, surround induction zone, vacuum sealer and stand mixer. To have all eight fitted in your kitchen will set you back £78,000, and you'll need to factor in additional costs for ventilation.
For that price you'll get training in how to use it, a personal chef to come and cook for you and your friends one evening, and round-the-clock support.
The reason for the seemingly high price is that you are getting a range that is designed and built for professionals to use in professional environments. There is no difference here from what you get in Michelin Star restaurants - it's just that Electrolux has decided to offer us mere mortals the chance to get in on the action.
Now that you've got over the shock of the price, realised that you could buy a very nice 4x4 for the same cash, but acknowledged that you can't cook with a new Audi, let's have a look at what you get for your money.
Our menu began with quails egg and kale blinis, followed by pan-seared scallops. For the main course we had pasta with shrimps and vegetables, and for desert, chocolate panacotta.
Electrolux Grand Cuisine Induction Zone
Our chef started by making the chocolate panacotta in a pan on the Induction Zone. The Induction Zone is the equivalent of your modern-day hob, but instead of having a select number of rings to cook on, the whole surface acts like one bigger hob, able to heat up special pans you place on it. Rather than heat the whole surface, the Zone is clever enough to know where you've placed the pan and heat only the zone that affects it.
A touchscreen display controls individual zone temperatures and because it is zone based the number of pots and pans you can place on it is limited only by the size of the Zone's surface, rather than the usual four hobs of a traditional cooker.
On its own the Induction Zone costs £6,360.
Electrolux Grand Cuisine Blast Chiller
If you think of the Blast Chiller more like a cooker, but for chilling food rather than cooking it, you'll be on the right track.
To finish off the panacotta our chef instantly put the hot desert mixture into chiller and set the timer. The chiller can be set to single degree increments from 0 to -18C and that means our freshly made panacotta was ready in 20 minutes. No faff required.
The Blast Chiller, says Electrolux, is a key component in the "Cook & Chill" process, an essential technique used by chefs in professional kitchens which enables the preparation of food hours or even days ahead of time in the knowledge that the rapid cooling of the Blast Chiller will preserve the appearance, taste and quality of the food in perfect condition.
The chiller itself has a number of sensors so it can automatically detect the food that's in the chiller and chill it accordingly by detecting the core temperature of the food being cooled and automatically selecting the right chill cycle for perfect results.
It really is a wonder to be seen. This is good food cooked quickly.
On its own the Blast Chiller costs £12,000.
Electrolux Grand Cuisine Sear Hob
Desert under way, our chef turned his attention to the quails' eggs and kale blinis. For this he started with the Sear Hob, a large chrome-plated stainless steel plate that can be heated up to 290C. Electrolux has used Chrome because, unlike other cooking surfaces, Chrome doesn't need any oil to stop food sticking.
That's good for several reasons as it means you cook different foods like fish and meat at the same time without one tainting the other - and because you don't need to use oil, it's healthier too. The quails' eggs cooked beautifully.
On its own the Sear Hob is £4,800.
Electrolux Grand Cuisine Precision Vacuum Sealer
The kale for the blinis is washed and placed in a specially designed bag with a clove of garlic before being popped into the Precision Vacuum Sealer.
Within about 90 seconds the bag is sealed and the air completely removed. It's a fast process but one that can be done for virtually anything. Combine this with the Blast Chiller and you've got your own ready meal preparation system, something Electrolux is keen to tell us about. Our chef even went as far as telling us he had served 8-month-old roast potatoes the week before.
The idea is that you get produce in season, seal it in a bag and then freeze it, or merely store it in your fridge until you need it later in the week. Because you've taken out all the air it lasts a lot longer, and when it comes to cooking, all the flavour is kept in rather than being released in to the water you are boiling it in or the oven you are cooking it in.
It's also perfect for marinating, as we found out with some nectarine and cinnamon that had been pre-prepared for later in our meal.
On its own the Precision Vacuum Sealer is £4,800.
Electrolux Grand Cuisine Combination Oven
Of course this is no ordinary oven. One of the main elements of the range, the oven is really more like a giant steamer. That's handy for cooking anything really, especially foods you've prepared in the Precision Vacuum Sealer.
Like the Blast Chiller, the oven has a sensor that can automatically gauge the moisture of the food that you are cooking, and adjust cooking times accordingly, automatically. When the food reaches the right temperature based on your preferences, it then goes into a holding pattern keeping the food warm without cooking it further.
Of course if you want to go off menu, you can do that as well. The Combination Oven can make cooking as simple, or as complex, as you want it to be. If you're confident, you can choose manual and set every parameter yourself, from fan speed and time, to temperature and humidity.
Everything is controlled via a touchscreen display and you can save settings you've manually created if that's your thing.
On its own the Combination Oven costs £16,200.
Electrolux Grand Cuisine Stand Mixer
The main course involved a simple pasta - fresh, of course - made with the Stand Mixer's pasta cutter attachment. The pasta had been made previously, vacuum sealed and then opened specially for our lunch. Because of the sealing process no extra flour had been needed.
On its own the Stand Mixer costs £1,995.
Electrolux Grand Cuisine Surround Induction Zone
Once the pasta had been cooked our chef transferred it over to finish cooking in the induction wok, also known as the Surround Induction Zone. Shaped perfectly for the accompanying wok to fit in it, the idea is that it provides an even heat to the wok's sides as well as the base.
This is probably the most niche of the appliances of the range, but it still works due to its simplicity.
On its own the Surround Induction Zone costs £6,360.
There is no getting around it, the Electrolux Grand Cuisine range is expensive, but it is also amazing in what it can do, and just how easy it makes it when it comes to cooking a meal.
For most the idea of spending this much on a range of kitchen appliances will sound bonkers, but it's really only the same as buying a Range Rover and that's not an issue for some people.
Like an expensive cars, the Grand Cuisine range oozes mechanical and engineering excellence, embellished with a dab of luxury. This is top-level, top of your game stuff, that doesn't, however, require you to be a top chef to use it.
If only we had enough cash in the Pocket-lint bank account to be able to buy one for ourselves.