Kitchen appliances with brains – doc.

Sunday, March 13th, 2005

DIGITAL GOURMET: They’re the next best things to having a food replicator

Elaine O’Connor


The digital kitchen. It’s the dream of every adult who comes home from work exhausted, stares into the fridge and fantasizes about a Star Trek food replicator.

Replicators aren’t likely in the near future, but high-tech cooking gear is taking off.

LG’s Multi-Media Refrigerator, for example, is high-tech and high-style, a stainless steel 25.5-cubic-foot fridge with a 13-inch LCD display screen, allowing midnight snackers to watch TV and surf the web while scarfing leftovers ($3,000 US; LG’s also developing web-ready microwaves, washing machines and air conditioners.

Toshiba’s working on getting your appliances talking with their Femininity range. The Bluetooth-enabled fridge, microwave, monitor, computer hub and washer/dryer system (now being sold in Japan) can record fridge contents, look up recipes, send shopping lists via cellphone and set the microwave and washing machine.

Beyond’s iCEBOX computer offers a similar network, with a kitchen PC that lets you control wired appliances (microwave, bread and coffee maker) and monitor other rooms in the house as you prepare dinner (from $1,800 US;

Here are a few other innovative basics among the gourmet gizmos:


The lazy gourmet will love the StirChef, a little machine that snaps on a saucepan and helps turn out a perfect risotto while you watch TV ($24 US;


Ripe Sense, a gizmo that judges the ripeness of pears (either crisp, firm or juicy) by analyzing gas they emit, may put an end to pinching, squeezing, sniffing and shaking of produce to test for freshness. Available on New Zealand produce for now, with sensors for avocados, kiwis, mangoes and melons.


No need for a wine cellar to preserve and serve your vintages. New wine labels with thermosensitive ink indicate when your Chardonnay is appropriately chilly. When William Grant and Sons’ Mar des Frades 2003 Albarino reaches 11 degrees, a blue ship appears on the label ($16 US;


Inventors are also crafting gadgets to prevent un-watched pots from boiling over (Sensiboil), storage containers that track how much time is left before contents spoil, and all-in-one appliances that make coffee, cook eggs and make toast.


Perhaps the most useful invention for food prep is eMerge Interactive’s dirty-hands scanner, VerifEYE. It uses fluorescent light to reveal specks of organic material on hands: a boon to commercial kitchens.

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Online food gathering is already a reality. In the U.S., online grocery sales hit $2.4 billion in 2004 and are expected to rise to $6.5 billion by 2008, according to Jupiter Research. In Canada, the market’s not as big, but there are options for B.C. residents who want to click through grocery lists:

– Small Potatoes Urban Delivery provides online ordering and delivery of organic food across the Lower Mainland, from Lions Bay to Aldergrove.

– The Nester’s Market in Whistler will deliver pre-ordered goods to your timeshare or condo so you don’t have to brave the cold.

– Pic ‘n’ del picks up and delivers your favourite foods to your door, if you live in Victoria.

– This Nelson-based business delivers organics to Nelson, Castlegar, Trail, Rossland and surrounding areas.

– The service brings organic fruits and vegetables weekly or bi-weekly to residents in Vancouver, Burnaby, Coquitlam, North Vancouver, Deep Cove, Port Moody, Richmond, Surrey, Tsawwassen and White Rock.

– They deliver fresh fruits and veggies to your work or home in Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster, the Tri-Cities and North Shore.

© The Vancouver Province 2005

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