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Time-Challenged Home Chefs Needn't Lack High-Tech Kitchens

New products range from sleek space-saving pieces to futuristic ovens.

October 19, 2000|CONNIE KOENENN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

One of the paradoxes of contemporary life is the passion for upgrading the kitchen by people who have no time to cook.

It's an ongoing complaint by two-career families that their schedule barely leaves time to punch up the microwave, even as they are tearing out walls to accommodate industrial stainless Sub-Zero refrigerators and Vulcan stoves.

"Consumers are sophisticating their kitchens, and the utensils they have there, because when they do find the time to actually cook themselves, they want to do it right," said Ron Paul, whose Chicago consulting firm Technomic's survey of cooking habits was part of the research presented at a recent housewares industry meeting in New York. Participants got a peek at new products to be introduced at the 2001 International Housewares show in January. What's coming? Lots of technology. Salton Inc., a leading designer of small appliances, has just licensed the technology for an Ultravection oven that will bring together three methods of heat transfer (radiant, conduction and convection). Not only will this combination reduce cooking time and hold in flavor and moisture, according to Salton, it's also healthful, because foods such as French fries and onion rings can be cooked fat-free without oils.

"We're convinced these ovens will revolutionize the way people cook," said Salton CEO Leon Dreimann, whose company plans to introduce them by early 2001, first as a counter top model, then a larger version.

The futuristic kitchen also will benefit from some very simple concepts, such as an elegant stainless steel wastebasket designed to fit in a corner. "It's a room-saver and works anywhere you want to utilize a corner," said Stuart Weinstein, North America sales manager for Hailo, the German product design company.

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Known as the Trento Corner model, the triangular waste bin has a two-part wing lid controlled by a foot pedal, and a 23-liter (about 6-gallon) capacity. "We've added an element of style and design to a rather mundane product," said Weinstein. "We are pioneers in making use of corner space."

"Everybody who has seen it likes it, and we hope it takes off at the next Housewares Show," said Weinstein. "So many people today spend $10,000 to $15,000 to redo a kitchen, then when it comes to putting in a waste pail they use a $10 Rubbermaid bucket. This one is stylish." Priced at $129.95, the metallic bin was introduced in June at Bed, Bath and Beyond stores, among others.

Even further down the technology chain is the Chop & Chop disposable cutting board from New Age Products in Oceanside. "We do all kinds of cutting boards," said co-owner Elle Mick. "This one is a paper-based product that you use once and throw away. It's also flexible, so you can funnel the food where you want it to go."

Not only is the disposable board useful for picnics or camping, she said, but it's also handy at home if you're concerned about cross-contamination of bacterias when cutting up meat, poultry or fish. "'Bacteria issues are a big concern with consumers today." The disposable boards will be out in March in the paper products section of grocery stores.

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Connie Koenenn can be reached at connie.koenenn@latimes.com.

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