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Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Magic Oven


Back in January the wife and I flew to Tacoma with a styrofoam ice chest full of pastrami, flank steak, meatballs, pulled pork, sauces, and cheese.  We stuffed our backpacks full of hoagies, italian rounds, and torta bread.  Yes, we had a few strange looks from fellow passengers.  And a very interesting time getting the russian dressing through the TSA checkpoint.  

At the Bargreen Ellingson test kitchen we played around with an Amana AXP22 convection oven (thanks Chef Bob for the hospitality).  We called it the Magic Oven.  Our pastrami sandwich which takes 6 minutes at the sandwich shop in our regular convection oven... takes 40 seconds in the Magic Oven.  The meatball takes 50 seconds.  The torta 40 seconds.  It is unreal, like science fiction, we used it, we bought one, and we still can't really comprehend it.  The sandwiches come out identical to our convection oven version.  And it makes our soon to be open drive thru sandwich shop at 213 South 9th Street possible.  GRAZE - 'a drive thru' should be open around March 1st. (509) 540-1261.

Kudos to the super engineering geniuses who invented it.  These ovens are changing the way quick service food is served... you can fry frozen french fries in them without any oil, and they taste like they came out of a fryer.  Name a food that is baked, roasted, or deep fried and this Magic Oven cooks it at least five times faster.

Almost exclusively these Magic Ovens (made by Amana and TurboChef) are used on processed food, by big corporate quick service places.  They are, to put it mildly, expensive.  We are using this technology with our honest and wholesome food.  That sounds like a good, and quite frankly, rather radical idea to me.

[The week after going to Tacoma to test cook, we went to the Seattle Wedding Show, and stayed at some rather generic, clean, large hotel chain.  When we got to the hotel the kids were starving and needed a quick bite.  So we ordered a couple of things in the bar area.  I swung back to look at their kitchen (I am always looking at kitchens).  The kitchen was pretty much a Magic Oven, a small stove, and a cooler.  That was it.  And they served breakfast, lunch, dinner, and appetizers out of the space.  Was the food good, no, it was generic and boring.  But the range of the menu was large, and the kitchen was sparse.  Just one Magic Oven and a bunch of processed food.  Sometimes progress doesn't feel so progressive.]


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