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Star-Bulletin Features

Wednesday, October 4, 2000

The steam oven is wall-mounted and
smaller than a conventional oven.

A new-millennium
oven gets its power
from steam

Here's a Christmas gift idea for the person who truly has everything.

The Gaggenau Combination Steam Oven is the gotta-have new appliance for the home gourmet. When you must have professional-quality roasts and rolls, just like at your favorite restaurant, look this way.

And bring your wallet. The new oven -- debuted at the Servco Appliance and Electronics Distribution center last week -- costs $3,769. Plus, you'll need the 11-1/2 weeks before Christmas to make this dream a reality, as the oven must be plumbed, or connected to a water source.

So what's the big deal? The combination oven cooks with both steam and convection heat, a pairing that had been available only in commercial kitchens. The humidity level in the oven can be set to zero, 30, 60, 80 or 100 percent.

So we repeat, what's the big deal? The introduction of water to the hot air in an oven allows for the slow cooking of meats at low temperatures, preserving moisture. It also allows for the baking of soft breads with crunchy crusts and the steaming of fish, again at lower heat than would be possible in a stovetop steamer.

Göran Streng, executive chef of the Westin Hawaii Prince Hotel Waikiki, demonstrated several combi-oven dishes at the Servco introduction. He said low heat is preferable for many dishes as it locks in proteins and intensifies flavors. But lower heat means a longer cooking time, which in a conventional oven means the food often dries out. Steam prevents that.

DeWayne McCormick, Gaggenau's regional sales manager, said the new oven is not to be confused with the last big thing on the cooking frontier -- halogen-powered ovens such as the Advantium.

Those ovens are built for speed, like microwaves. Acombination oven is not going to cook faster than a conventional oven, in fact it makes it possible to cook slower -- that low heat thing again.

"It's for somebody who loves to cook, who gets enjoyment out of the product."

Betty Shimabukuro, Star-Bulletin

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