22 February 2011

Gaggenau just raised the bar on induction cooktops

When Blanco had me over in Germany last month I saw a nearly overwhelming number of new and innovative products at The Living Kitchen, the trade show I attended in Cologne. Until I got to Germany, I never really thought about how alone in the world the US is with regard to its design sensibilities and I never fully grasped that really innovative products don't debut here. More than anything else, my trip to Germany was an education in how the world works and it was pretty humbling.

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...


  1. I emailed Gaggenau two days ago asking about the availability of this marvel, and most regretfully, they had no information on if/when it would be available Stateside. I need this. I wish I had the electrical know-how and guts to import it and hook it up myself (sshhh, don't tell the permit inspector.) AEG and Broan also make similar units, not available in the U.S., of course.

    Also, the remote drain knobs you posted about a few weeks ago--Kohler and Franke make them. You can find them in their catalog under drainer accessories.


  2. Hyperventilating a bit. Must. Have. This.
    In my next kitchen, of course. My husband would be calling a divorce lawyer, if I suggested tearing things out and redoing anything to our 2yr old kitchen.

  3. EM: Gaggenau had nothing for me about exports when I was talking to them in Germany either. This cooktop is spectacular. Thanks for the heads up about the drain knobs.

    LAX: Well your husband should take comfort in this appliance's unavailability. Hah!

  4. I wanty!!!

    Paul pull some strings for me! I'll cook you dinner for a month and show you around Vancouver... give you my first born... whatever you want.

    Just kidding about the first born... unless you're into it?

    But seriously, gimme, gimme, gimme!

  5. Wow, absolutely fascinating concept. I think you’re very right on European kitchen design, by the bye. I don’t actually design kitchens; I just write about people who do and the products they put in the finished kitchen. Within WEEKS of starting this venture in 2008 I found myself writing about European designs and concepts, and the bulk of my writing since then has revolved much more around the Continent than the Continental United States. There is so much going on there that is so fascinating.

    When I was fortunate enough to visit Delta Headquarters last August, I learned that Judd Lord and his design team visits Europe several times a year to get a leg up on what they’re doing there and to do what they can to bring some of that excitement back to the USA. Which, I might add, they do to a fare-thee-well!

    But those who really must have this stovetop will probably not have a long time to wait for it, in my opinion. I have every confidence that within three or four years, shipping European-made products to the USA will be very much the norm. When we started our blog site, just damned near none of the European companies I wrote about had a presence in the USA. Now, I often learn that they have an outlet or two in the USA. I like to think that the Internet in general and bloggers in particular have something to do with that! And the future before us is clearly a much shrunken globe.

  6. This is extra yummy, Paul- think we can squeeze one in your suitcase next time you're across the pond?

  7. Once you go induction younever go back - they appeal to greens, geeks, control freaks & serious cooks alike - and they keep getting better

  8. Ryan ... another Vancouverite?

    I heard about this last year at a seminar I took through Wolf. Odd that it's a Gaggeneau product.

    Induction is amazing. I'd spec it over gas every time if gas didn't have such cache in our market. Could you imagine an entire island top made with this technology? So you could cook anywhere on the island? Not sure how you'd vent it, but that's a problem for the engineers.

  9. Sweet! Does this mean that standard induction cooktops will now descend to the affordable category? ;)

  10. I've been in meetings all day and I'm sorry I missed out on all of these great comments. I have a feeling that these things won't be heading across the pond any time soon. When they do make it prepare for some sticker shock of biblical proportions.

  11. Ryan: You and Arne ought to know each other.

  12. Yup Arne... North Shore raised most of my life. But I have lived here there and everywhere in between. Back home in Van for the moment but much like Paul, home is where the suitcase is.

    ...And I don`t care about the $$ on the sticker Paul, they can take a pinky-finger if it will get me one of those bad boys

  13. I think we may have met at one function or other actually. But I`ll introduce myself on Twitter... Thanks Paul!

    Keep the drool files commin!

  14. Paul-
    These look amazing.
    This may be a dumb question as I don't keep up on appliances like I should....but do you think this is the best performing cooktop option? (If we had this cooktop option?)

  15. Though this one's not available in the US, induction cooktops are the best option out there. They're the best-performing, most efficient cooking technology on the market.

  16. Thanks!
    That's what I'd heard, but I had a rep. tell me the other day that gas will always rule.

  17. A gas cooktop transfers around 38% of its energy into the food being cooked. And induction cooktop transfers 84% pf its energy into the food being cooked. I'd put in an induction over a gas cooktop any day.

  18. I think I've just fallen in love with a cooktop!

  19. And you're moving to a country where you can actually buy one of these things.

  20. That's a huge difference. Okay, I'm sold. :)

  21. That efficiency means that induction cooktops generate very little radiant heat and that means you need less-powerful ventilation. The energy savings are a double whammy when you figure in ventilation.

  22. Boy, I go away for a few days and have a lot of catch up reading to do. I am with everyone else, I want this cook top. I started cooking on induction back in the eighties. I love it!!!! Gave into my hubby, who does half the cooking and installed gas in my last kitchen. The next one I go back to induction. Not only does it cook like a dream but the clean up is amazing. No cooked on mess! I am starting on the design for our new house, maybe by the time we build it this will be available. How could the sticker shock be any more than the price tag on some of the the end range tops?

  23. John D.Galbreath Chef,I bought Gaggenau VI 230 on Ebay last year & had it shipped from the U.K. Royal mail it arrived in one day that's right 24hrs for less than $100 US dollars in perfect cond. I love it I wish Gaggenau USA would carry it here. They say it is not UL approved but it works amazing. It is well worth the money to invest in induction. I am a retied European trained chef & have a complete Gaggenau kitchen almost that is close enough for me. I highly recommended buying high quality cookware I own Demeyere it is expensive but it is worth it to use with induction cooking.
    Gaggenau needs to work on if they doing so is induction Sous Vide.

  24. Have you seen De Dietrich's Piano, another new zoned induction cooktop?

  25. I have given up on finding an induction cooktop that is really designed for the way I cook and I am going to use Cooktek portable units lined up in piano format http://www.google.com/products/catalog?client=safari&rls=en&q=cooktek+apogee&oe=UTF-8&um=1&ie=UTF-8&cid=43335053836526. While I believe in induction, not sure all wrinkles are out and it will be easier to replace a modular than a whole cook top. I have used the Fagor for several years and I have like it. But the Cooktek is much, much better. Now on to solving what is the best double oven that is reliable both in performance and temperature. Any ideas?

  26. Hi !

    Yes, it's amazing. De Dietroich has an even more amzing (and obvioulsy more expensive) full induction cooktop called Il Piano (in Italian Piano means obviously the musical instrument, which makes you think of cooking on this top as playing music with the instrument at your fingertips, but Piano also means "surface", as in cooking surface).
    Il Piano can be used in 3 modes :
    - Expert, as the Gaggenau with up to 5 pots/pans (compared to a max of 4 with the Gaggenau)
    - Piano, with 3 independent cooking zones
    - Solo, with one huge unique cooking zone (great if you want to cook Teppan-Yake type)
    Here's the link : http://www.dedietrich.co.uk/




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