Induction is inevitable. If you are building or doing a renno induction is ‘une réalité de la vie’. As gas appliances end their lives whether it is your stovetop, oven or your run-through hot water service it will be replaced with an electric appliance. Many councils already refuse gas installation in new builds or rennos. Planning authorities in many councils do not even allow gas infrastructure in new areas. Equally when you live in a country like Australia not installing solar as you can afford it, and especially not taking advantage of the many incentives offered by governments is an act of silliness. Australia is uniquely positioned to contribute to the slow global warming, and governments will become increasingly keen, mainly due to international pressure, to reach targets. COP28 in particular, with the number of fossil fuel lobbyists has been a useless and expensive talk fest, a waste of tax-payers money that could have been better spent on science. 

Induction is nothing new. Chefs like Neil Perry and Tetsuya Wakoda have worked with Electrolux for years assisting with induction development. It is at least 30 years since I went to Perry’s Spice Temple in Sydney, and they already worked with induction woks of a sophistication that I have still not seen in the domestic market. Possibly, because subsequently it became clear it is so easy to use a cheap steel wok on induction.

In ovens, there is a lot of fuss about steam, air fryers, and pyrolytic cleaning and then when you come to induction stove tops there is an entire other world to consider.

The first question people selling induction should ask and don’t, is when was your build and do you have sufficient power available? Induction is greedy. In 2016 when working with Chianti Adelaide and assisting with the development of their kitchen for their Bar Torino we were firmly told there was insufficient power on Hutt Street. The power availability on Hutt Street is so terrible we often had power cuts at peak times…like 6.00 pm on a Friday night and eventually kick-in emergency power, at great expense was installed.

Before you purchase anything with induction, whether it is an induction cooktop or a free-standing electric oven with an induction top, make your choice, maybe even a couple of choices, download the manual and contact your electrician. If you don’t have a regular electrician ask around for recommendations. The question to be asked is…”Do I have enough power, and future thinking if you have a gas run through hot water service is there enough power for that to be replaced with electric!” It may be that you need to update your power before you start thinking about induction and going all electric. It is wise to future think and not have any nasty surprises as a friend recently encountered. A fabulous 60s  bolt hole with a 180°c ocean view, top of the range Miele induction hotplate that did not work properly. Why? Insufficient power…a salesperson too eager to sell rather than assist and an electrician who should have known better but did not! The result was an induction hotplate that was not as good as an old-fashioned electric hotplate.

The other thing when purchasing anything as important, and as expensive as new cooking appliances is after sales. A friend installed Siemens ovens and waited six weeks for a part to come from who knows where. This is unacceptable. Ask the salesperson for details about their warranty and service repairer and then follow through by calling them and taking to them. If your call goes to an offshore call centre where that person has inadequate language give it a miss. Lastly before making your purchase a most important question of the seller is “do you have it in stock?” If the answer is no and your intention to install immediate you need to look for a seller who does have the item in stock.

The other thing that no one seems to mention when selling and installing induction hot plates is that they need an air vent to keep them cool enough to operate perfectly. Whatever they tell you to the contrary don’t believe them I have had some near death, incredibly stressful experiences cooking in kitchens where this has not been observed.

Although I have been basically retired for five+ years and have returned to my art practice put aside for forty years, I still cook with friends in a lot of different kitchens. Most are lavish and no expense spared. My own kitchen would surprise many it is incredibly humble and tiny, just 2 m x 3 m. I have a free-standing electric fan-forced stove that cost just under $1000 AUD…the hotplates are covered with a marble slab and finally covered with custom stainless steel….the hotplates are not used. I have two induction hotplates, one from K-Mart and the other from Ikea, both about fifty bucks. The one from K-Mart is the best, with the best range of cooking options. I also have two spare induction hotplates purchased online in 2016 and no longer available anywhere. Both have excellent temperature options and have been cruelly punished in a restaurant situation and my own catering business at the time. Sadly, when I moved into my tiny bolt hole a few years ago I was told there was insufficient power for induction and gave away my almost new 60cm Electrolux fan forced oven. As it happens I can run four induction hot plates without blowing a fuse…a good reason to get the best advice, it could have been otherwise. I also have a 23L convection microwave, so a second oven. The cupboard top where the convection microwave sits has also been covered with custom stainless steel. This has been particularly helpful because I can move something from the heat source to another surface without worrying about scorching the cupboard tops. Very handy when the space is so small.

I think with all kitchen design you need to decide is it a kitchen rarely used, if ever, but good to look at or is it a kitchen where passionate people love to cook and do so frequently. In almost forty years of cooking in other people’s kitchens I have seen design faults that are truly astonishing, most often, because the look has overridden the practicality. My pet hate is a massive bench top of polished black granite, impossible to keep looking good with sunlight on it, but worst of all no slope to the sinks [that are usually uselessly small anyway] or no sloping gutter at the edge so water doesn’t drip all over the floor. Seriously it’s a no brainer!!!

So, here’s the suggestion before you start looking at induction, buy one of these Anko induction hotplates, and before you go upgrading your pots and pans buy a twenty buck induction frypan or saucepan from K-Mart or Ikea and have a play. There is no avoiding that even if you think you can’t live without gas eventually you are going to have to change to electric. I fully understand that many will not change until their current cooking arrangement no longer works.

Next, do you really want or need a 90cm oven? In the past 15 years there have been so many improvements in 60cm ovens, not just their internal capacity but their evenness of cooking, personally I would prefer two 60 cm ovens rather than a single 90 cm oven.

There are many options for induction cooktops and currently my choice would be the Belling. Yes you do need some skills or a 10-year-old child to help you set up the programming, but the options are fantastic, especially for around $3000. To get an induction cooktop that recognizes your pot wherever you slide it on the surface you are still looking at serious dollars. The Belling has programmable settings that once set up will give you the ability to move your cooking pot around without changing a whole pile of settings and simply choosing one of your pre-set, most commonly used options. A highly regarded British brand still made in France it is curious that their ovens have not kept up with the technology.

So, let’s get to steam. Currently, there is only one domestic oven with plumbed in steam…Meile and about $14K. If you’re loaded and always in your kitchen go for it, but this is new technology in domestic ovens and in 2-3 years it will be at least half the price and probably have the same abilities as the commercial combi steam ovens we have had in commercial kitchens for at least 35 years. Some ovens have a well where you pour water in, but I think a $5 spray bottle with cold water probably works about as well. Currently, the steam oven best option at an affordable price with good function options is Smeg with an 8-hour tank.

I have had a near death, incredibly stressful experience, with a bench top air fryer, used at the insistence of the host instead of clean hot oil. To my great discomfort it absolutely wrecked my fritte. I do not own one and I am yet to use one in an oven. To be honest, if you only have fried food occasionally I cannot see the point of a bench top air fryer. However, I am told they do fab roast potatoes and other vegetables. Stay tuned … in the new year I have set my sights on using a friend’s recently installed Bosch 60 cm with air fryer [and steam well] and another friend’s 90 cm Electrolux free standing oven [Pyrolytic].

Now to Pyrolytic ovens. It will surprise many that most older commercial steam combi ovens are cleaned nightly, sprayed with toxic and dangerous caustic and then cleaned with a programmed steam cleaning process that leaves them looking like new and ready to use again when the baker comes in at 3.00 am. Commercial steam combi ovens that are used across the board from roasting bones for stocks to baking cakes will frequently be cleaned more than once a day to prevent meat taint in more delicate cooking such as bread, cakes and generally desserts. You cannot cook beautiful pastries and cakes in a filthy oven. In fact, I don’t think you can cook anything much without it being tainted in a filthy oven. Wiping your domestic oven out with a damp cloth while it is still hot certainly lessens the need to use toxic chemicals like Mr. Muscle to clean them. Basically, a pyrolytic oven does not require chemicals to clean it. I have never used a pyrolytic oven and recently hen helping a friend make their induction choice noticed that they seem less prevalent than they were a few years ago. The appliancesonline blog gives an excellent clear explanation of how pyrolytic works and what is required to finish the cleaning process. Equally if you have tank steam regular steam at 100% for 40 minutes and a wipe out with a clean cloth and oven should remain clean and the process be relatively quick and easy. I don’t think any good cook let’s their oven get filthy and if you are doing a lot of roasting you need to be vigilant.




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