Though induction cooking is still finding its way into American kitchens, GE is finding ways to make induction not just a wave of the future, but a stylish component as well. That blend of science and design reaches its apex with the company’s Monogram brand, GE’s high-end kitchen line.
The company’s latest induction cooktop, which we previewed at the Kitchen & Bath Show (KBIS) in Las Vegas, introduces several new functions and abandons the traditional all-black look for an appealing brushed silvery-gold hue. The new cooktops will arrive in stores this May.
Induction cooktops are hardly news. They caught on quickly in Europe, where energy costs are higher than in the U.S., but Americans have been slow to embrace the technology, just as they were with microwaves a few decades ago.
We at Reviewed are big proponents of induction technology. In addition to offering terrific energy efficiency, induction cooking is nimble. You can boil water in less than half the time of regular gas or electric ranges, and temperature controls are much more precise, providing consistent low temperatures when you need them.
You can read more about the science behind induction cooking here, but let’s see how Monogram is applying contemporary design to induction cooking.
Design & Usability
The cooktop will be produced in two sizes—a 30-inch version with four burners and a 36-inch with five burners.
The first standout design element of this new cooktop is the color. Monogram says they will probably call it “silver,” but we found the surface cast more of a golden hue. One KBIS attendee called the color “champagne,” and we think that’s a winner. Whatever the final name, it’s a refreshing change from the basic black that most induction cooktops have worn.
Also new for Monogram is the cooktop’s swipe-friendly controls, inspired by smartphone technology. While touch controls aren’t new to kitchen appliances, these work with a gentle swipe of your finger. As your finger arcs around the dial, a series of lights illuminate underneath to display the heating level. Alternately, if you know the temperature you want you can tap that point in the arc and the on-off control. You can also fine-tune temperatures with the plus-minus controls.
We will say, we tested the swipe controls with the model on display at KBIS and didn’t always find it responsive to the exact position or movement of our finger. A Monogram representative said that it was probably because there was grease residue on the surface, but that’s something we’d expect in most kitchens. It may be a minor issue that can be ironed out during initial production.
There’s an important practical element to touch controls: Take away the knobs and buttons and there's less space for crumbs and liquids to hide, meaning cleanup is easier, and more thorough.
There are other features Monogram is introducing with this new cooktop, starting with sous vide functions, which Time magazine called “the edge of culinary innovation.” GE has developed an accessory (sold separately) that monitors water temperature precisely and communicates necessary adjustments to the range, which is connected via smartphone or tablet. This allows chefs to cook food slowly and evenly, maximizing flavors and textures while virtually eliminating overcooking.
From timers to locks, the cooktop’s settings can be customized. You can choose a traditional countdown timer or utilize a multi-timer that allows each individual burner to be timed separately. There’s also a function to lock the controls when you’re finished with the burners.
A lightweight stainless steel clad griddle can be set on two of the burners (the controls have a sync function to provide even heat), allowing basic griddle functions.
Finally, Monogram’s induction cooktop has been designed so that it can be inset into a countertop, flush with the counter surface. (Note that the display model in the photos above rested on top of the counter.)
Few kitchen appliance brands say “American” more than GE (the Monogram cooktops are made at the company’s plant in Lafayette, Ga.). So it may well be that GE is the company that helps firmly establish induction cooking in American kitchens. That’s a good thing, as induction cooktops are still a luxury item for most of us, and broader acceptance will help bring prices down. The Monogram 30-inch has an MSRP of $2,600, while the 36-inch model runs $3,100.
Monogram’s new color—be it silver or champagne—is certainly appealing, but the cooktop has other features worth consideration. Without testing it in our own kitchen we can’t definitively say swipe controls actually improve the cooking experience or the final results, but it’s an elegant feature that’s fun to toggle. The invitation to make sous vide cooking easier is one we’re happy to take up, and we can see the precision temperature controls coming in handy in other ways as well.
And in any case, we look forward to introducing some of our more delicate recipes to the induction cooking process. It’s an innovation whose time has come.