Soon, your cooker will be talk­ing to your food

Ger­man ap­pli­ance man­u­fac­tur­ers Miele have come up with an oven that un­der­stands what’s in it

The Irish Times - Thursday - Property - - Property The Market -

Irefuse to clap for a cooker. As the hun­dreds of peo­ple flown in from all over the world to this swanky art gallery in Ber­lin ap­plaud a pro­ces­sion of fancy dishes cooked by Miele’s new Di­a­log oven us­ing a com­bi­na­tion of ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence, elec­tro­mag­netic waves and wiz­ardry, I fold my arms and look bored.

Truth be told, I am not bored. I am very im­pressed by this cooker’s tricks and in­stantly con­vinced that – one day – the tech­nol­ogy on dis­play will be in ev­ery home in Ire­land and will rad­i­cally change how and what we cook.

But I am still not go­ing to ap­plaud a ma­chine. I will have to when the ro­bots rise up and wrest con­trol of our world from hu­man hands but we’re not there. Yet.

Sur­rounded by happy clap­pers, I try my best to un­der­stand what the Di­a­log is do- ing. I have seen it use its skills to cook a fil­let of sal­mon to per­fec­tion de­spite the fact the fish was en­cased in a block of ice when it went into the oven.

Now that may not sound re­mark­able but it might when I say the Di­a­log was able to heat and cook the fish with­out melt­ing the ice.

It was also able to cook a beef fil­let to medium rare while at the same time crisp­ing up the Parma ham in which the fil­let was en­cased and cook­ing the veg­eta­bles sit­ting in the same tray just as they are sup­posed to be cooked.

It is no bother to this oven to cook four or five things in four or five dif­fer­ent ways at the same time be­cause – as the man from Miele says – the com­pany is us­ing an “ap­pli­ca­tion of tech­nol­ogy in the field of cook­ing that is ab­so­lutely rev­o­lu­tion­ary and al­lows for com­pletely new cook­ing ex­pe­ri­ence”.

Nor­mally when I hear such phrases, I roll my eyes to the heav­ens and dis­miss it as PR guff, but not to­day be­cause the proof of the pudding is al­ways in the eat­ing and I am eat­ing the pudding.

Talks to your food

Dr Markus Miele, the chief ex­ec­u­tive of the com­pany which bears his fam­ily name, tells the crowd of food writ­ers, chefs and me that his new cooker can do all the things it does be­cause it has a con­ver­sa­tion with your food when the two first meet. Novem­ber is Food Month in The Ir­ish You will find food-re­lated con­tent in all of our sec­tions, plus reader events, com­pe­ti­tions and lots of ex­clu­sive con­tent at irish­times.com/food­month

He ex­plains the oven is not called Di­a­log be­cause it talks to you but be­cause it talks to your food. And how does it do that? It is pro­grammed to un­der­stand the en­ergy in­side the food and it then “mea­sures and con­trols and reg­u­lates the cook­ing process”, de­pend­ing on what it is it is cook­ing, to de­liver per­fect food all the time.

It is a big step along the road of mak­ing cook­ing high-end food ef­fort­less for even the most skill-chal­lenged chef among us. No won­der the pro­fes­sional cook at my ta­ble is look­ing wor­ried.

Not only can this oven cook things bet­ter than you and me – in another ex­per­i­ment the show-off oven cooked a souf­flé (like it was still the 1970s) with­out al­low­ing it to col­lapse in on it­self (like it was still the 1970s in the Pope fam­ily home) – it can also cook things much faster than you or your oven can.

It turns slow-roast pork into fast-roast pork while still de­liv­er­ing the same taste and tex­ture and de­liv­ers a shoul­der of lamb that is fall­ing off the bone in about a third of the time it takes your sud­denly slow cooker.

As dry ice swirls around the gallery and disco lights flicker, Dr Miele de­scribes his new oven as a “game-changer” and hails it as the big­gest in­no­va­tion in the his­tory of cook­ing since we dis­cov­ered fire.

“A ham­mer is a good tool if you have a nail but some­times you need to tighten a screw as well,” he says. “For the past 1.5 mil­lion years we have poked food with a ham­mer. Now you have not just a ham­mer but a whole tool­box.”

Ad­justs it­self

And how does the Miele tool box work?

It sounds sim­ple writ­ten down – the Di­a­log has an­ten­nae which emits elec­tro­mag­netic waves at spe­cific fre­quen­cies and cal­cu­lates in real time how much en­ergy has al­ready been sent out and how much of that en­ergy has been ab­sorbed by what­ever it is cook­ing and then it ad­justs it­self ac­cord­ingly.

While that sounds sim­ple writ­ten down, the tech­nol­ogy be­hind it is in­cred­i­bly im­pres­sive and it has taken years to per­fect, which is why the good doc­tor is so ex­cited by it all. He and his com­pany ap­pear to have won a race that many of the lead­ing ap­pli­ance mak­ers in the world have been tak­ing part in for years.

The cooker does sound a bit like a reg­u­lar mi­crowave oven, which is why the Miele peo­ple do a side-by-side com­par­i­son be­tween the new and the old.

We are shown two frozen cakes, one of which was de­frosted in a mi­crowave and the other in a Di­a­log. Sur­prise, sur­prise, the mi­crowave de­liv­ers a soupy mess of creamy good­ness while the cake that comes out of the Di­a­log is a per­fectly formed slice of creamy good­ness.

The smart oven can be con­trolled through an app on your smart phone and can be pre-pro­grammed with cer­tain dishes. It will also re­mem­ber how to cook cer­tain things.

And it will be able to com­mu­ni­cate di­rectly with your phone and work out how best to cook cer­tain recipes. All it won’t do is un­shackle it­self from your kitchen wall and do your shop­ping. The drones will take care of that though. The Di­a­log is only ten­ta­tively tak­ing its first steps into our world and will not be avail­able in Ger­many un­til next year, af­ter which it will be rolled out across all of Eu­rope.

The bad news is that should you choose to be an early adapter, you’ll not have much change out of eight grand but as with all such things, the price will fall and fall as the tech­nol­ogy be­comes more com­mon­place and be­fore you know it we’ll all be cook­ing like Gor­don Ram­say, with­out the swear­ing.

The even worse news is that if you do get such a de­vice you’ll not be able to boast about it at din­ner par­ties be­cause to do so would be to re­veal it is your cooker and not you who de­serves all the credit for the won­ders you dish up.

And who, in their right mind, is go­ing to do that!

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