Hestan Smart Cooking, the company behind the Hestan Cue guided cooking system, is introducing the first Hestan Cue powered cooktop this week at the Kitchen and Bath Show (KBIS) in Orlando, Florida. The new cooktop will be part of a new residential lineup from Hestan Smart Cooking’s parent company under the Hestan Indoor brand. The company also announced it would preview Cue-powered gas cooking in Orlando.
As you would expect, the new induction cooktop will work with the company’s Bluetooth enabled cookware and eliminate the need for a countertop induction burner. Long term, this move is a logical evolution from the company’s first generation product, which required the consumer to buy both a countertop burner and bluetooth-pan in a box, to one where the company’s bluetooth cookware will eventually work with a home’s built-in appliances.
In fact, when you step back and read this announcement with the broader Hestan and Meyer portfolio in mind, a bigger platform vision comes into focus:
- Hestan, which has traditionally been the professional appliance brand within the Meyer stable of products, is now moving into high-end residential appliances.
- The Hestan Cue moves from being a stand-alone product to a platform that powers built-in appliances. In talking to Christoph Milz, the managing director for Hestan Smart Cooking, this is only the first “Cue-powered” appliance. They expect to have more announcements this year, including with third-party appliance makers.
- The Hestan brands are all part of Meyer, one of the world’s largest cookware companies. If, as I assume, Stanley Cheng and company see a future where cookware and appliances connect and are powered by software to help consumers cook and make better food, it’s clear they are assembling the pieces to make this future a reality.
- Working with gas broadens the appeal of the Cue platform and makes it potentially much more relevant in the US market, where gas still reigns. If the company’s technology can be built into gas stoves, that’s a nearly 4 million unit annual market in the US alone into which they can tap.
The move into gas also brings the story of the Hestan Cue full circle. The original team and technology behind the Hestan Cue began as a Seattle based startup named Meld, which had launched a smart retrofit stove knob that allowed users to control gas or electric stove with an app. When Meld was acquired, the company announced it would not ship the knob (they quickly refunded their Kickstarter backers). It was disappointing news at the time since the idea of precision-controlled gas cooking was pretty exciting. But now, it looks like precision gas cooking is coming, only as part of a broader platform-centric approach rather than the original retrofit knob concept.
When I asked Milz about what his company is doing is different from others in an increasingly competitive market for smart cooking platforms, one thing he pointed to the cookware. While a combination of content, software, and hardware is critical, Milz said that mastering the smart cookware piece is something no one else has done.
But, said Milz, the biggest differentiator, is their focus on the end result.
“We’ve always focused and communicated that we’ve built Cue from the ground up to guarantee a high-quality result on the plate. This is the biggest differentiator.”