It All Began with a Vacuum Sealer
In 2007, Oliso reinvented the vacuum sealer and vastly improved food storage for thousands of devoted users. Some of those users began telling us that they loved using our bags and vacuum sealer for sous vide cooking, so we set out to try it ourselves.
Our first venture into sous vide cooking was with one of the many immersion circulators on the market. Although it was capable of maintaining a water bath at a given temperature, the experience left a lot to be desired. Some of the problems we found? We didn’t like having a pot with a piece of plastic sticking out of it on our counter, it could only heat water, we had to fashion makeshift lids if we wanted it to be able to hold a higher temperature. The water ovens were a little better, but they were large and expensive devices that only had one function.
So we set out to reinvent the cooktop from the ground up, making it capable of sous vide and other precision techniques by design. The result is the SmartHub™, a device that brings the capabilities of the professional kitchen to the home in less than one square foot of space.
What is the SmartHub™ and Top?
The SmartHub™ is a powerful induction burner that can plug into any power outlet and instantly give you the capabilities of a kitchen range. What makes it revolutionary is the gold plated contact module that allows various SmartTops™ to dock with the SmartHub™ so that the two recognize each other and communicate seamlessly all without the need for batteries or recharging.
The first SmartTop™ is the Precision SmartTop™, designed to heat liquid to a precise temperature and keep it there. This allows you to do sous vide, but the design also allows you to cook in the top without plastic bags. Now you can use precision temperature control for infusions, delicate broths, whole chickens, culturing yogurt or sprouting grains.
We’re running Kickstarter to make a Griddle SmartTop™, temperature probe and app to work with the SmartHub™.
So what’s the Kickstarter for? We want to develop the next SmartTop™, a griddle top, a temperature probe and an app that makes cooking with the SmartHub™ even better.
Why SmartHub™ and Top?
When we first started cooking sous vide we very quickly found ourselves reluctant to go through all the necessary steps when using a circulator. For some in our office, the idea of an open pot of hot water with their kids around wasn’t practical, for another, it was too noisy in their open plan studio apartment, and all of us were frustrated by the water evaporation on longer cooks. Makeshift lids weren’t secure, too much work, or just plain ugly.
When we designed the SmartHub™ and Top, it was also important to make the precision SmartTop™ without a cord so that users could feel free to get it dirty and then easily wash it. We created a tempered glass, silicone edged lid that keeps water from evaporating when cooking sous vide and flavor volatiles in when cooking directly in the bath. In the words of Joe Ray for Wired, the top “looks beefy enough to seal off a submarine airlock.”
We used induction because it’s fast(cutting the amount of time it takes to get your water bath up to the temperature by up to half) and it’s efficient.
Having an induction base also addresses one of the shortcomings of sous vide as a cooking technique, since sous vide alone leaves your food looking unappetizing and devoid of the wonderful flavors produced by the Maillard reaction. Users of circulators turn to their grills and blowtorches to fix this issue, but the SmartHub™ gives you another option. The powerful induction hub quickly gets a pan up to searing temperature, which allows you to put a perfect sear on your food without additional equipment. In addition, it’s pretty wonderful for when you want to boil a pot of water for pasta in record time.
We designed the SmartHub™ and Top to be an all-in-one cooking solution, as a powerful addition to the typical home kitchen but even as a replacement for a kitchen for those living in small spaces and as another station for restaurant kitchens. We plan on making this solution even more powerful with the funds we generate from this Kickstarter by manufacturing a Griddle SmartTop™, temperature probe, and a companion app as the next accessories to the SmartHub™.
The Griddle SmartTop™ allows you get a great sear on your food. Like all Oliso SmartTops™, it's designed to communicate seamlessly with the SmartHub™ for precise control.
Another use for the Kickstarter funds is to help develop an app. There are lots of things you can do with the Smart Hub and Top that you can't do with other appliances and we want a way for chefs and users to share their discoveries with the Oliso community.
Backers at most levels ($5 and above) will receive a digital cookbook made for using with your SmartTop™ written by chef Kyle Connaughton, a contributor and editor for Modernist Cuisine.
Here are a few of the recipes included:
and for dessert...
What about the Smart Vacuum Sealer?
It seems that many users of immersion circulators at home are using sandwich bags along with the “water displacement technique” to get most of the air out of their bags. If you are trying to sous vide something with a lot of liquid in it, this technique works pretty well. However, with dry food items there will almost always be some air left in the bag. The risk this presents is creating an area insulated by the air bubble that won’t get up to the temperature necessary to eliminate the bacteria that cause food borne illness. This is a risk that is unacceptable in the restaurant industry and many home sous vide cooks making food for their family and friends find it unacceptable too. The solution is to use a vacuum sealer.
Oliso’s Smart Vacuum Sealer hit the market in 2007 and has revolutionized vacuum sealing for thousands of users. Unlike standard vacuum sealers, ours does not require you to cut and make your own bags, but instead uses zip-top bags that can be vacuumed again and again. Instead of vacuuming and sealing an entire side of the bag, the Oliso unit makes a small incision, pulls the air out, and then seals around the incision. Since the incision has a very small surface area, our vacuum sealer performs much better with liquids than competitor units that seal an entire side. In addition, its compact size makes it easy to store and push-button operation make it a breeze to use. It won the Madrid Fusion award, a prestigious culinary award presented to Oliso in January 2011.
An In-Depth Look At the SmartHub™
The induction burner is capable of delivering up to 1500W for extremely fast heating, but can also maintain temperatures with as few as 2W. Induction heats the pot directly, eliminating the inefficiencies associated with transmitting heat from electrical and gas stove tops to the pan.
Precisely calibrated to measure the temperature of the water bath to within 0.1°C (0.18°F), giving you greater control over cooking your food. There's no need to babysit those 48-hour ribs, just press the button and go.
The spacer plate keeps food off of the bottom of the bath and the adjustable rack holds your food in place, without the need to clip it to the side of the bath, allowing for even cooking on all sides.
The Griddle Smart Top has been designed to bring a commercial-style flat-top griddle to your kitchen. The large thermal mass of the cast iron plate will allow you to give your sous vide meat the perfect sear without further cooking it. The frame will securely attach the plate to your SmartHub and detach for easy cleaning.
Air is a really poor transmitter of heat compared to water, so removing all the air from the sous vide pouch will ensure that heat reaches every part of your food. This is extremely important for preventing food-borne illness.
Risks and challenges
Fulfillment of the first 500 SmartHubs and Sous Vide Smart Tops is all ready to go at the end of the campaign. We have our initial production run on hand here in our warehouse and they will be shipped as soon as the campaign ends, meaning that you will receive yours in early December. Regardless of which package you order, if it includes one of the first SmartHub and Sous Vide Smart Tops those two pieces will be sent right away at the end of the campaign. Any SmartHubs and Sous Vide Smart Tops sold after the first 500 will be put into production immediately and will be shipped out sometime in February.
Our vacuum sealer is also able to be shipped immediately. It is an established product that we have sold for years and we keep lots of them on hand, so we will have no problem fulfilling any number of orders.
Production hasn't yet started on the Griddle Smart Top. We've completed the design and prototyping, but there are still a few steps left before we are able to start mass producing them. We forecast that that these will be ready to ship in May, but ordering a package that includes the Griddle Top will not hold up the rest of the order.
Product Development—The Griddle Smart Top, temperature probe, and app are all new products for us and still early in their development cycle. The Griddle Smart Top and temperature probe are in the pre-production phase now, and once their tooling is completed we should have a smooth production due to the ease of sourcing the materials needed. The app is something that we have only barely started working on. We’ve identified several key features and functions that we want the app to have, but we will need to work with a developer to make the app a reality. Developers that we have discussed it with tell us that their average timeline for an app to go from concept to complete is around 18 weeks and we foresee our app following a similar timeline.
Shipping—Some reward packages include large items that are not normally packaged together. This may create some logistical challenges on our end, but our experienced shipping department should have no issue over coming them. Be advised, items may be shipped separately to keep weight or package size down.
- (30 days)