Home chefs are going gaga for kitchen gadgets

by April Lisante
Posted 4/8/21

It began out of necessity. Stores and restaurants closed, the virus was too rampant, so we turned to our home kitchens for every meal. Some of us spent the year learning to cook, or to cook more often, and even to dabble in making bread and pasta with newfound free time. We ran to buy small appliances like juicers and toaster ovens, to make what we couldn’t pull through a drive-through to order.

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Home chefs are going gaga for kitchen gadgets

Posted

It began out of necessity. Stores and restaurants closed, the virus was too rampant, so we turned to our home kitchens for every meal. Some of us spent the year learning to cook, or to cook more often, and even to dabble in making bread and pasta with newfound free time. We ran to buy small appliances like juicers and toaster ovens, to make what we couldn’t pull through a drive-through to order.

Yet as the year progressed and restaurants and take-out reopened, we continued our mealtime routines, and some interesting trends emerged in our kitchens. For one, we decided we actually like cooking at home. We also decided we wanted to try to eat healthier by making our own food. And we sure did get the family – especially the kids - used to certain types of meals on the daily, i.e Taco Tuesday and Pizza Friday.

 According to research firm Hunter, seven in 10 people recently claimed they would continue cooking at their homes even after COVID-19 dining restrictions have long passed. In some surveys, more than half of people say they are eating at home more often now. And a similar survey from Bloomberg suggested people planned to cook more now and were less likely to dine out or to dine out at all after the pandemic.

As spring arrives, trend watchers are finding that the small appliance frenzy has begun to be outshined by our gadget gusto. We know what tools we need to cook at home, and we are beefing up our kitchens with gadgets to make things even easier.  The way we’ve adapted to our new way of cooking and eating has finally manifested itself in the consumer bottom line. Retail experts say there are several main areas where our kitchen buying is focused, based on the items that are trending right now.

“They are being chefs at home,” said Mercedes Dennis, assistant manager at Kitchen Kapers in Chestnut Hill, where national kitchen trends are mirrored in the retail store’s microcosm of products. “It was appliances at first, but now, it’s gadgets.”

What sorts of gadgets? Things the store typically kept a healthy backstock of are flying off shelves or are out of stock, like juicers, scales, and even metal discs to plate foods like rice in an artistic way, like the restaurant pros. The products reflect specific home cooking trends going on this spring, Dennis agreed.

“It’s anything healthy, social, or family oriented,” Dennis said. “They are flying off the shelves.”

  • Cooks are trying to make and eat healthier foods at home. Juicers have been and continue to be all the rage, as are instant pots and air fryers. One popular air fryer, the Cuisinart Air Fryer and Toaster Oven ($199.99) has seven different functions and can make just about anything. But home cooks are also trying to make basic foods themselves, like ice cream. The Yay Labs ice cream ball ($39.95) is a big spring gadget this year. Just shake the ball for a few minutes and you have fresh ice cream.
  • Cooks are making meals fun for the whole family. As soon as you walk into Kitchen Kapers, the taco table greets you, filled with taco holders like the Fred Taco Truck ($14.99), taco trays and tortilla baskets. Meals that are fun and socially interactive are big right now, according to national trend watchers. Taco Tuesdays are a local favorite, said Dennis. “It’s an easy, healthy, and a fun festive food and a healthy finger food.” Raclette sets, a fun alternative to fondue, are currently sold out. Once an occasional sale, “We can’t keep them on the shelves now.” Another popular item? The Lekue Microwave Popcorn maker ($19.99), which pops the family movie fun without the need for a big machine, then serves as a bowl for eating.
  • Cooks are experimenting with ethnic foods they haven’t had at restaurants in a while. National surveys show gadgets for making everything from gyoza dumplings to sushi are hot. There is even a Sushi Bazooka for about $7 that shoots out rice and veggies in molded form. The Helen’s Asian Kitchen Dumpling Press ($4.99) at Kitchen Kapers is a hot ticket locally, as are Asian soup bowls and spoons ($2.99 to $9.99).
  • People are home for breakfast during the week now, and they’re making good on starting the day right. Locally, Cuisinart waffle makers ($99.99) and all Stonewall Kitchen jams, jellies and syrups ($16.99) are in high demand. Nationally, breakfast sandwich makers, stand-up bacon fryers and even something called a Rollie Eggmaster (about $20), which pops out burrito-shaped omelets, are big.
  • People are watching chefs on TV or taking virtual cooking classes and trying to mimic the process at home. Not in her 17 years at Kitchen Kapers has Dennis seen anything like what is happening right now with chef-specific items, which are selling like crazy. Kitchen scales, ramekins for mis en place ingredients and silver plating discs are just a few of the things she’s seen a run on recently. She pointed out a shelf where scales used to line the display near the ceiling. “They are all sold. People are doing a lot of prepping, and they want to mirror what the chefs are doing on tv. They are watching the shows and coming in and asking for things.”

Do you have a gadget you’ve found you can’t live without? Email me and tell me about it at aprillisante@gmail.com

Comments

No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment