I've talked about a lot of the innovations I saw there. The skinny counters, the drain switches, the overflow drains on kitchen sinks, the wide use of laminates and the total dearth of raised-panel cabinet doors were fascinating to see and to report on. More than anything else I saw in Germany though, a new induction cooktop from German manufacturer Gaggenau was the real star at The Living Kitchen.
I'm fascinated by the concept of zoned induction. By zoned induction I mean induction cooktops that dispense with the idea of round burners and turn the whole cooktop surface into an induction zone. There are a couple of European manufacturers playing around with this idea, and none of these models are being exported to the US. Not yet anyway but they're coming. Eventually.
Gaggenau has raised the bar on zoned induction with something called FreeInduction.
The Gaggenau CX 480 uses 48 micro inductors that work together to sense the size and number of any pots or pans set down on the surface. So if you have a rectangular roasting pan and you want to make gravy in it and you have a round pot for steaming broccoli and a third round pot for boiling potatoes, you set all three on the cooktop however they'll fit. The cooktop can tell their sizes and shapes and only activates the induction zone beneath each one. Make sense? No? Watch this video.
Even more amazing than the technology underneath the glass is the touch screen interface that controls the cooktop. Did you catch how that works on the video? It's brilliant. That each control that pops up in response to a pot or pan has its own, separate timer just adds to the genius of this thing.
Induction cooktops are here to stay so get used to them gang. They're a small but growing presence in the US and Canada and you can count on their increasing prevalence. Innovations such as Gaggenau's FreeInduction are a real thrill to see because they represent a complete rethinking of The Way We Do Things. Not only that, they're just cool. Now if they were only available in North America...