High quality in the segment of hobs and kitchens offers the best of cooking technology with refined aesthetics for the most demanding consumers. Valuable materials and processes characterize the products design, while high-tech advanced solutions allow to achieve professional performances
By Elena Corti
To those consumers who seek excellence in the kitchen the appliance industry offers solutions with refined processes and with a high technological standards able to ensure functions comparable to professional products. Producers are proposing several news to meet the needs of customers careful to the quality of materials, energy efficiency and functional innovations. In addition, these devices also meet the demands of those who consider the kitchen appliances as interior decor objects, which must harmoniously combine themselves with the furniture in order to create a pleasant as well as practical environment. The variants in terms of finishes, sizes and design are many and are often an expression of a significant producer skills in the treatment of materials. At a market level, although in general the recovery has difficulty to start, the value trend of high-end products remains positive.
Top performance with induction hobs
The best of the latest generation of induction hobs allows to have very advanced solutions from a technological point of view, with functions that enable users to manage cooking with extreme precision. Thanks to the automatic recognition of the pot, the hob becomes “customized” for tools and not vice versa. Versatility is a strength of these products that are equipped with flexible areas that can be modulated depending on the cooking space that who is cooking needs. So it is possible to use also pots and pans of large dimensions, simply combining the induction areas. The “flex” zone can also be divided into thermal areas with pre-set levels, for example, for roasting, cooking at a moderate heat and keep food warm at the same time or to make recipes that require rapid temperature changes. User will not think of the heat settings while cooking, it will be enough to slide the pot on the hob. Another interesting technology is the one that allows to freely move the pan from one area to another even while cooking, because the hob memorizes and transfers the settings automatically. Moreover, in the most advanced products many functions are designed to make cooking more and more comfortable, precise, fast and secure. Using the intuitive touch controls, consumer can easily program the automatic shutdown, turn on the full power to boil water very quickly, pause the appliance to restart the cooking later, turn off with a single gesture all the induction zones and select with extreme precision the power levels (which can also be more than 15) so that each food is cooked with the perfect temperature. This is automatically regulated and monitored always remaining constant. Some products also feature a special sensor that allows to control even the temperature of the oil for frying in an optimal manner, without risking to make it burn. Finally, with the power management function the electricity absorption is limited to a predetermined value so that it does not exceed the level allowed by the counter, while with the control lock option all the functions are interrupted to ensure the safety especially if there are children in the user’s home. In top quality models the management of the hob is very simple thanks to controls that are generally touch to facilitate and speed up the selection of options using the movement of a finger.
A further innovation that characterizes these products is the ability to be connected: with an App the user can control – even remotely – the temperature and how much time remains to the end of the cooking. In addition, hobs equipped with smart technologies have programs designed for assisted the cooking: depending on the option selected, the temperature is automatically adjusted for optimal performance in an easy and fast way. Moreover, the hob may also communicate with the hood that adapts its operation according to the type of cooking. Finally, among the new entries, there are induction hobs with integrated suction system, an advanced solution not only from the technological point of view but also modern from the aesthetic point of view.
In general, design is very important in high-end hobs, with an essential and contemporary style. Some products are also made with special surface treatments, such as the use of nanotechnologies to make the glass of the hob scratch-resistant and easy to clean or the use of layers of Kerablack, a very durable covering.
Designed to “tame” the flame
In the most advanced gas hobs, one of the most important innovations is the ability to adjust with great accuracy the intensity of the flame. The special knobs, in fact, allow to select with precision the different levels, by controlling the amount of gas going out and the flame power. In addition, through special displays it is possible also to see the residual heat of each zone after switching off the hob: thus the advantages of a gas appliance with those of an electric product are combined. Another significant aspect is energy efficiency, reached by burners that allow to optimize performance and reduce consumption: it is possible to get savings up to 25% compared to standard models. To ensure excellent performance, among the main news regarding the burners there are the vertical flame versions that maximize the performance determining energy efficiency and a more rapid cooking. A further feature of top quality hobs is the ability to allow the user to try alternative recipes instead of traditional cooking.
This is the direction toward some manufacturers are going, mounting on the gas hobs wok burners with also the wok-holder in cast iron, ideal for fusion cuisine or light fried. Several models have then Dual burners that allow to adjust the internal flame with a single knob regardless of the outside one, so as to obtain the maximum versatility from a single burner that can be used for both small and large pots. In high-end hobs burner is not only a functional component but also an important aesthetic element: lifted from the hob or, instead, just protruding are the two major innovations in terms of burners style, two different ways of intending the contemporary kitchen with attention to design.
The same mix of functionality and aesthetics characterized grates and knobs. The first are a stylistic element on which manufacturers strongly focus to differentiate their product as well as to offer the consumer a solid and safe base for cooking utensils. Made of stainless steel, cast iron, enameled, thin or with robust shapes, single and able to create a unique working space on the hob, the grids of the top-range hobs are distinguished by the refined treatments that make them more resistant to heat and wear, even in the case of the grids in polished stainless steel. In terms of style, however, the most refined hobs range from minimalist solutions with contemporary lines to original design (eg decoration with naturalistic motifs) with a strong aesthetic impact. As regards the knobs, in high quality hobs these components express the attention to detail, and at the same time meet the need to control the appliance in an easy, accurate and comfortable way: for this reason, design is ergonomic and the position on the hob can also be lateral, leaving the cooking zone free. Knobs can be made in different colors and may have fine finishes, as in the case of brushed metal models.
Finally, another option offered by some manufacturers is the gas hob that, instead of using knobs, features touch controls.
In general, high quality appliances are distinguished not only for the reliability of the used materials (steel, glass and ceramic), but also for particular solutions such as the insertion of a stainless steel sheet under the glass, which aesthetically is invisible but which increases the strength of the hob. In case of an accidental breakage, this arrangement ensures that the shards do not scatter, but remain attached to the product, ensuring the user’s safety. For the steel hob valuable materials are often used (such as Aisi304) as well as refined finishes to get for example the brushed or glossy effect. Another characteristic feature of high-end products is the variety in size, installation and shapes: from large hobs with six burners to models with inline burners, from angular units to square products and with curved shapes, from the wire-top built-in to the slanted edge, from the models designed with housings for salt, spices and oil to those with ceramic cutlery holder.
|MULTIPLYING THE OPTIONS
In order to meet the needs of the most demanding consumers, the hobs manufacturers are oriented on solutions that allow to combine different ways of cooking in one product, thus obtaining the perfect device for every need. We are speaking of mixed hobs and hobs made with segments, allowing for example to merge gas, induction and Teppanyaki plate to offer the user the opportunity to express the maximum of creativity in the kitchen, always having the right tool available.
Sophistication and professionalism
The offer of high-quality freestanding kitchens is orienting more and more on products with elegant aesthetics, able to “dress” the kitchen environment with their style. In this context the color is determinant, so that different manufacturers are offering wider and wider color ranges realized with special processing (for example a kind of painting that uses techniques borrowed by the Italian industry of luxury sports cars). Attention to particulars distinguishes these products and is visible in details such as the color that emphasizes knobs and the handle of the oven. As for hobs, also for freestanding kitchens top quality products aim on the quality of materials (steel in particular) and finishes to obtain aesthetic effects of strong impact and ensure the strength of the devices. Among the latest news, there are the free-standing kitchens realized with carbon fiber finishes that provides resistance to high temperatures and a low thermal expansion. In addition, the clean lines and the elegant proportions enclose technological solutions that allow to obtain high-level performances: from multifunction ovens from the large capacity, quick to warm up, energy efficient and very equipped to the professional cast iron grids to steel hobs with a thickness of up to 4 cm. Finally, some of the latest models feature the induction hob instead of the gas one.