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The Latest Kitchen Tech Promises... Instant Steak?

Advanced appliance technology for people who hate cooking and have money.

In many movies that take place in futuristic landscapes and/or spaceships, food is available at the touch of a button. As it turns out, the future is now! Our robot overlords are coming to our kitchens. As revealed at CES 2024, the tech event happening now in Las Vegas, kitchen appliances equipped with AI capabilities are on the rise, which isn't so surprising if you think about how they've already wedged their way into the arts. Why not the culinary arts?

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AI-powered smart grills

Many people love the act of leisurely cooking an elaborate, delicious meal, while others want food now, please and thank you. If you don't want to hit up a drive-thru or if a team of personal chefs isn't around to anticipate your needs, getting instant food isn't usually too instant. If you jumped on the Instant Pot pressure cooker craze, you know that waiting for a device to come to pressure can sometimes take as long as searing meat or cooking something on the stovetop. At CES, innovations are being unveiled that might speed things up even further.

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I love to grill, and I contend that grilling isn't too hard for even lazy home cooks like me. To make it both fancier and faster, the newly announced Perfecta, from Seer, is the world's first AI propane grill, and allegedly the fastest, too. It promises "chef level results in as little as 90 seconds," whether you're grilling chicken, burgers, salmon, pizza, or anything else; you can select the food from a list on a digital screen and set the desired level of doneness, and the grill senses the thickness and internal temperature of the food as it cooks. For anyone who wants gourmet meals right this moment, this is the grill for you—if you can afford it. The current promotion is $1,000 off of $3,500.

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My beautiful, magical Weber cost under $500 total, and I'm dubious that this new device is as perfect as the name implies. The company's founder is quoted as saying the grill can make steak in under two minutes, making the Perfecta akin to a "toaster for steak." No word on whether the steak actually tastes similar, let alone superior to one that is allowed to take its time cooking in the great outdoors.

All-in-one kitchen appliances

Unless you have unlimited kitchen space (who does?), single-purpose appliances can be more of a burden than a blessing. Cue the Macrowave from Revolution Cooking, which combines the capabilities of a microwave, oven, and air fryer. This "patented cooking technology" is called "instaGLO," which is not, as you might assume, an early Instagram filter or a new facial moisturizer. To get this multipurpose appliance, you need to shell out $1,800, which seems like a lot for a microwave, but is comparable to many ovens and ranges.

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The microwave has always been a multipurpose tool in my kitchen, and there are lots of ways to get comprehensive homemade meals out of them, so I don't personally need them to get more powerful and much more expensive. Besides, advances in technology tend to highlight all the other aspects of our daily life that could be improved upon. Forget the Macrowave—where's my espresso machine that's also a pill dispenser, meal planner, and life coach? And while you're at it, give me the fridge/freezer/froyo dispenser complete with a system that grows seasonal fruit right inside my crisper. I need a smart kitchen connected to my living room TV that senses the theme of my movie night and deposits the perfectly corresponding snacks into my lap. And so on.

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Need for speed?

These "smart" devices claim their speed makes them efficient, and thus they use less power, which is good for the planet. If you are adding excess gadgets to your already stocked kitchen, it's not necessarily an easy sell to say you're helping the earth. But if you're starting a kitchen from scratch and installing this new generation of toys, you might be in for some energy savings and less of a carbon footprint over time.

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To keep up with the latest technology, these wifi-operated devices update themselves and claim to be easy to use, due to the simple "touch of a button" displays. People have questioned the practicality of toasters and ovens that need software updates. But hopefully this points to a future in which we don't wholly replace our appliances with new ones every decade or so, but rather update the ones we have. I don't personally believe this will be the case, because where's the profit in that? It's just as likely these AI "smart" appliances will become virtually obsolete to encourage us to upgrade—but none of that dampens the optimism on display at CES.

When it comes to phones and computers, new is always better. But much of what we love about food comes from connecting to its most archaic elements. Any grill-splainer will tell you it's not grilling if it's not done over coals. Many chefs use tried-and-true, and sometimes even ancient, techniques for prepping and cooking recipes. Preparing something in the traditional manner is often of cultural importance to people who are making meals that are part of their identity's cuisine. So while this trend of bringing tech into the kitchen will likely wow and amaze many, there will likely be a large contingent of people who prefer to do things the old-fashioned way.

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