There is probably a reason Hestan Cue had an enclosed booth at the 2017 International Home and Housewares Show — they had people on hand making scallops, after all. Food scents wafted all around the showroom floor as chefs at various booths flipped pancakes or made pasta sauce. But at the Hestan Cue booth, the induction burner and pan were doing most of the work.
Hestan acquired Meld Smart Knob more than a year ago. The Meld was supposed to retrofit your existing stove into a smart one. That was one of Hestan’s early steps in developing the Cue, Lorin Peters, culinary media manager at the company, told Digital Trends. Instead of working with your current range, though, the Cue is an independent induction burner and pan that communicate via Bluetooth with one another to keep a consistent temperature so you never burn a pancake or dry out your chicken.
The pan itself has sensors and a “smart handle” — in that it is full of tech you don’t want to throw in the dishwasher. Handwashing aside, the system is meant to make cooking foolproof. The accompanying app walks you through recipes and the burner can heat the pan to a precise temperature. That means instead of turning your burner to high heat, the app will tell the Cue to set itself to 350-degrees Fahrenheit (176.67-degrees Celsius). The app will set a timer, as well, so you know exactly when to flip them.
If you would rather fly solo, the system can be used like a regular induction burner. It has physical controls but they don’t let you dial in specific degrees; instead, you will slide your finger across the temperature control to set it to something between one and 10.
The Hestan Cue has been available for pre-order through Williams-Sonoma for a few months now. The price is $500 for the burner and pan. Once it starts shipping in early April, the price will increase to $650 for the system. That is pricier than the Cinder, a precise countertop grill that doesn’t require a pan. The Cinder has a much bigger footprint, though. At 12.5 inches in diameter and less than five pounds, the Cue more portable and storable than the Cinder.
Despite its hefty price, the Hestan Cue signals that we might be seeing more precision coming to cooktops. General Electric’s FirstBuild also had its Paragon Mat on display at the show, which similarly lets you set an induction burner’s temperature in degrees. Perhaps you’re noticing a theme here. Both the Hestan Cue and Paragon use induction. It may be less familiar to U.S. home cooks, but it does hold temperature better than gas or radiant.
Updated 3/22/2017: Updated to correct the price of the Hestan Cue system at Williams-Sonoma.