5 kitchen trends that make you look so pro

For semi-pro home cooks or those just picking up steam, the kitchen nearly always gets plenty of attention. After all, no one wants the soufflé to fall or the asparagus to blacken—not with a hungry family and friends waiting in the dining room. So, while looks play their part, real devotion goes to a kitchen that can also turn out well-prepared dishes. The proof is in the pudding, as the saying goes. Therefore, it makes sense that the latest trend in kitchen appliances is all about function, according to the award-winning team at Clarke, New England’s Official Sub-Zero/Wolf/Cove Showroom and Test Kitchen in South Norwalk. In a recent survey of those who visited a Clarke showroom over the past three years, 69 percent of homeowners report that functionality is the top consideration when selecting kitchen appliances. Appearance is important, but performance drives the final selection. Here are five top trends that Clarke’s showroom consultants are seeing now:

1. Convection Steam Cooking: (pictured above) The Wolf Convection Steam Oven is a showstopper for kitchen lovers. “When homeowners discover this amazing oven, they add this into their kitchen design plan more than any other appliance. Homeowners with limited space are actually opting to incorporate the Convection Steam Oven rather than a traditional oven,” says Clarke Corporate Showroom Manager Marco Barallon. “You have to experience it to believe the results: juicy, golden roasted turkey; vibrant steamed asparagus, which retain 22 percent more vitamins than with traditional cooking; and bubbly, crisp-crusted casseroles.” Need an extra hand in the kitchen? You got it, because even complex, multi-pot dishes can be created in one dish. Simply choose the cooking mode combining steam and convection that’s ideal for that ambitious dish you’ve been eager to try. The oven’s unique digital technology senses the amount and size of the food and automatically adjusts the cooking details. A stale baguette is rejuvenated to just-baked freshness, and crisp, hot phyllo pastry is baked around frozen ice cream. Magic? Your guests will never know.

2. Customized Refrigeration: Sub-Zero pioneered built-in refrigeration—and then evolved refrigerators and freezers to accept custom panels to complement kitchen cabinets. “Then the company introduced refrigerator and freezer drawers, which are still a designer’s favorite, based on a recent survey of Connecticut architects and designers,” says Barallon. “Now the trend is to build your own food preservation.” Sub-Zero’s modular refrigeration offers more sizes and configurations than ever before. Integrated models measure 18, 24, 27, 30 or 36 inches wide. Pair a 30-inch refrigerator with a 24-inch freezer and an 18-inch wine-storage unit. A 30-inch Sub-Zero wine storage unit, a Sub-Zero undercounter drawer refrigerator and a freezer for ice, soda, fruit garnishes and other mixes create a hard-working wet bar for serious playtime. “Gone are the days that the appliance dictated how much freezer versus refrigerator space you would get. Now you can customize each food preservation element in a beautiful and very functional way.”

3. Induction Cooking: Europe’s taste for induction cooking has caught on here. Heating elements respond up to 40% faster than with gas or electric. “Wolf’s Induction Cooktops provide lightning fast heat and low-end finesse that many other induction cooktops were never engineered to deliver,” says Clarke Chef John Craig. Electricity flows through a coil to generate a magnetic field under the glass ceramic surface. When an induction-compatible pan is placed on the cooktop, currents are induced in the pan for instant heat. The cooktop doesn’t heat up, the cookware does. “It’s a cooking technology of startling precision, power and efficiency.” When you remove the pan, the stove is no longer hot, which is a relief for households with small children or seniors. Additionally, says Craig, “professional chefs who have long been gas-is-the-only-way-to-cook proponents are incorporating this trend into their own homes because of its responsiveness and energy efficiency.” Once thought to be only a cooktop option, an Induction Range is now available through Wolf.

4. Sous Vide Cooking: As home chefs embrace cooking sous vide, they let go of the outdated notion of using an expensive single-purpose appliance to achieve precise results. Wolf offers two solutions. First, its Countertop Steamer Module has a Sous Vide Basket. “Using the basket accessory, you can enjoy this professional cooking method to create the most succulent, perfectly done steaks, chops, chicken and more,” says Barallon. The control panel adjusts in one-degree increments to provide steady and accurate temperatures. Second, its Convection Steam Oven creates a steam-bath environment with, again, one-degree temperature adjustments, from 90 to 120 degrees. “Seal a steak or other food in a plastic bag, extract the air, then place it on a wire rack in the Wolf convection steam oven. Using the Steam Mode, set the oven at the exact right temperature, for instance 130°F for a medium-rare tenderloin. Then just leave it alone. In about two hours, the steak will be perfectly cooked.”

 5. Outdoor Kitchens: Manning the grill is a power position; failure is not an option. “While Wolf Outdoor Gas Grills offer the same performance and control as the indoor appliances,” says Barallon, “now you can enjoy this same level of perfection in other outdoor kitchen appliances to round out your outdoor kitchen.” Sub-Zero’s 24-inch Undercounter Outdoor Refrigerator, 24-inch Outdoor Refrigerator Drawers and 15-inch Ice Maker are engineered with heavy-gauge stainless steel to withstand the ever-changing New England weather. Grillers can use the 30-inch Outdoor Warming Drawer to keep dishes perfectly prepped until the whole meal is ready. “This versatile appliance is also showing up in cabanas, where they keep towels warm by the pool to extend the season even longer.”

To find out if these trends fit into your lifestyle, visit Clarke’s South Norwalk Showroom. Visit ClarkeLiving.com for more information.

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