With a knockout combination of raw power, computerised smarts and designer styling, these electrical essentials open up new horizons in the kitchen, writes Alaana Cobon.
The expectations we place on kitchen appliances have moved far beyond the utilitarian: today they must perform brilliantly and look fabulous. New models may come clad in myriad materials, such as this year’s brushed copper or matt black, or accented with leather, wood and other finishes you’d expect to see on an interior designer’s mood board, making it clear they’ve been created with contemporary kitchen aesthetics in mind.
Fashion plays a big role in seasonal releases. A new wave of fresh hues has hit the islands – kitchen islands, that is – with pretty pastels and rosy metallics among the most popular choices. “No longer hidden away in kitchen cupboards, appliances are now an important part of kitchen styling,” says Christos Boukogiannis, portable appliance buyer for The Good Guys.
Being big on style goes in hand with functionality. Home cooks expect that they’ll be able to recreate the types of meals at home that they enjoy in cafes or see on cooking shows. To achieve this, new kitchen machines are more powerful, intuitive and multifunctional.
“Australians want real food that can be made simpler, faster and more exciting. They want to spend less time in the kitchen and enjoy more time with family and friends instead,” says Grace Mazur, founder and managing director of Thermomix Australia.
The market also offers a range of aids for the health-conscious. Air-frying, steaming and spiralising are part of a common theme across new releases and add-ons for existing appliances.
“There’s a major focus on boosting functionality as an upgrade on new models,” says Kate Stansberry, appliances category buyer at Myer. “Both KitchenAid and Breville have developed dicing kits, making it easy to produce salsas or salads. KitchenAid is introducing a sheet attachment that thinly slices fruits and vegetables to wrap around small-bite meals such as sushi or hors d’oeuvres.”
Also playing into the health and lifestyle aspects of benchtop appliance purchases, all manner of juicers remain popular, particularly cold-press models. And high-powered, multipurpose blenders keep on evolving – recent releases include the NutriBullet Select and Vitamix Ascent series – so devotees of green smoothies are well catered for.
Smart technology is increasingly making its presence felt in the kitchen. In line with the evolution of the Internet of Things everywhere else in our lives, kitchen equipment is becoming more intuitive and intelligent. “One of the biggest trends we are seeing is the rise of the connected kitchen,” says Mazur. “People want the best technology in their kitchen.”
Increasingly, benchtop appliances come with built-in sensors, Bluetooth connectivity and companion apps that allow you access to further information. The Thermomix Cook-Key attachment provides access to a global library of more than 26,000 recipes; the iSommelier Pro, a smart decanter from iFavine, accesses winemakers’ tasting notes; and Anova allows you to pair its sous-vide cooking device with your smartphone, so you can control the doneness of your steak from a distance.
Whether the tech side of cooking is what excites you, or you’re more of an aesthete and simply enjoy the way new appliances look, now is the time to update your kitchen. And when you’ve decided what to buy, you’ll find an online community of people who own the same thing ready to share recipes and offer advice, the perfect complement to your appliance purchase.