ProsThe Cue revolutionizes home cooking with precision cooking; fair price for the quality hardware and depth of software
ConsThe app could use a handful of tweaks to make it even more intuitive
We're very lucky here at The Tech Buyer's Guru that after more than six years of writing about and reviewing tech, we occasionally get a sneak peak at something really special - not just new, but different, with the potential to establish a whole new market for tech. Think iPod, iPhone, or Echo levels of ingenuity and polish. So when we were contacted by Hestan regarding its latest smart cooking system, we had to try it out. Combining the precision of induction heating, a quality stainless steel cookware set enhanced with Bluetooth, and a curated app full of gourmet content sounded like a dream come true for any foodie.
As background, we've been using an induction cooktop for years, and 95% of all our cooking is done on it. Frankly, once you've induction, you'll wonder why anyone would use anything else. Alas, there are a few reasons; first, whil harnessing the magic of physics to generate heat using a magnetic field, it only works with magnetic cookware. This eliminates just about all the lower-tier cookware on the market, including non-stick cookware, which is typically made of aluminum, as well as some stainless-class cookware that uses a lot of fillers to hit a pricepoint, such as the popular Calphalon brand. A good test of whether cookware will work with an induction cooktop is whether a magnet sticks to it. Some proven brands are All-Clad in the stainless market and Le Creuset in the cast iron market. A second issue is that induction is contact-based, so it doesn't work for ovens. Thus any induction range must be standalone or paired with a gas or electric resistance oven. But the benefits far outweigh the very literal cost to get induction up and running, namely instant response, both on and off, as well as the enhanced safety of a burner that will not turn on unless it's in contact with magnetic cookware.
But this wasn't enough for Hestan; the company decided that the true promise of induction cooking had yet to be fully tapped. By using the aforementioned Bluetooth connectivity to connect temperature sensors with a smartphone app, guided ultra-precise cooking was possible. To understand the promise, consider the difference between a cake recipe that said cook for 20 minutes at 375 degrees and a recipe that said cook until brown at medium. Which one is more likely to give you repeatable results?
So, with that stage set, let's jump into our review of the Cue Gen. 2 Smart Cooking System. Special thanks to Hestan for providing us a sample for review.
Description and Features
The Cue combo includes the induction cooktop (referred to as a "burner" by Hestan), as well as a high-quality tri-ply stainless steel pan infused with temperature sensors and a Bluetooth radio. We consider it a very good thing these components will blend in with other kitchen appliances without calling particular attention to themselves. When it comes to premium kitchen products, it's all about function over form, with performance being the only yardstick that matters. Not that there's anything unattractive about the Hestan Cue setup; to the contrary, the pan looked right at home next to our All-Clad stainless gear, apart from the removable battery cover, and the induction cooktop looked a lot nicer than other induction cooktops we've used. The only flourish we'd love to see on the cooktop in a future version is brushed metal finish. While the plastic is certainly reasonable in appearance, a little stainless steel would go a long way to bringing the cooktop's looks up to the standard of the pan.
To give you a better feel for what comes in the package and what makes this a "smart" product, check out our unboxing and setup video here:
Now, hopefully that gave you a sense of what the Cue is all about, but consider for a moment that the app has over 500 recipes in it, each vetted by a team of professional chefs to ensure consistency and repeatability. Then consider that each recipe includes not just detailed ingredient lists and steps, but also videos to help you visualize what you need to do. It's basically like having a chef in your kitchen with you - that's the depth of what Hestan has on offer. And Hestan is constantly adding content, including recipes from some of the most respected chefs in the country.
Turn to the next page to see our cooking demo and get our impressions of the experience using guided precision to make food taste better!