Last March at the Housewares show in Chicago, I had scheduled a meeting to swing by housewares giant Meyer’s booth to check out a demo of a new product they were calling the Hestan Cue.
All I knew about the product was it had morphed out of work done by Meld, a startup founded in 2014 to create a retrofit smart knob to add some aftermarket automation and control to existing stove tops. After a successful Kickstarter, Meld was stealthily acquired by Meyer and for the next six months no one heard from the connected cooking startup.
So when I got invited to see what had become of Meld, I was naturally intrigued. I had no idea what I was going to see at the Meyer booth, but I suspected it might be something similar to the retrofit knob Meld had built.
I quickly realized after I had arrived was they had scrapped that idea entirely and created something much cooler: a guided cooking system.
The next hour was eye opening, as chef Philip Tessier, Hestan’s in-house culinary director (and soon-to-be gold medal winner at what is essentially the culinary Olympics), asked me to cook salmon for him. Naturally, I was a bit nervous cooking for an award winning chef, but ultimately had no problem making some tasty fish using the guidance provided by the Hestan Cue app.
“It was this combination of the pan, burner and app and the guidance system they had built that led me to see the possibilities around this new category. I am not a great cook by any stretch of the imagination, but I cooked one of the tastiest pieces of salmon I’ve ever had in about 20 minutes. The experience was enabled by technology, but the technology didn’t take me out of the experience of cooking. Further, I can see as I gain more confidence using a system like this, I can choose to “dial down” the guidance needed from the system to the point I am largely doing most of the cooking by myself (though I don’t know if I’d ever get rid of the automated temperature control, mostly because I’m lazy and it gives me instant “chef intuition).”
It’s been almost a year since I first used the Hestan Cue, and in that time new products have started to emerge on the guided cooking front. ChefSteps has created a cool cooking guidance system for their sous vide circulator, the Joule, while new features in Pantelligent‘s software has made this smart pan into a guided cooking system. Danish startup Ztove is creating a system similar to the Hestan Cue, while Cuciniale is selling what it calls ‘intelligent cooking systems’ that feature an induction heating surface and a variety of cookwares with a sensor probe. Lastly, multicooker leader Thermomix continues to evolve their fifth generation product into what is essentially a guided cooking system powered by a 12-in-1 cooking tool.
And now, the Hestan Cue is available for preorder on the Williams-Sonoma website and will begin shipping in March.
The product’s price carries an MSRP of $699 but is available for $499 online. The price is a bit higher than other products like the Joule, so the choice of high-end retailer Williams-Sonoma makes sense. I expect Williams-Sonoma will have in-store demos for the Hestan Cue, something needed to convey the concept of guided cooking.
No matter which way you slice it, it looks like we can expect more guided cooking systems on the menu in 2017.