I returned last week from the 2012 International Housewares Show in Chicago.The IHS is an astonishing endeavor. This year over 2100 exhibitor companies set up shop with 500 new companies participating. Over 60,000 people attend the show. Each company that participates builds their own “store” filled with their products and many hire demonstrators performing crowd-gathering spectacles. One company hired a dancer to leap and spin while she acrobatically tossed a vacuum cleaner as her dance partner! Others hired celebrity chefs to draw attention to their lines although some of the celebrity chefs have their own lines and come to promote their own products. I met the Voltaggio brothers pressure cooking hazelnuts (they taste like boiled peanuts) with the new Fissler Vitaquick, Curtis Stone personally introduced me to his new cookware line (thanks to the clout of the buyer I was with), Ming Tsai demonstrated Kyocera ceramic knives- his knife skills sharper than the blades, watched Duff Goldman ice cakes near his new bakeware, got my tail out of Emeril and his entourage’s way as they marched down the aisle (he’s like the Napoleon of celebrity chef’s, I think), and totally missed Stephanie Izard’s demo at Kitchen Aid – although I did get to eat at her James Beard nominated restaurant Girl and the Goat. That dinner stands for me as one of the best restaurant meals ever!
It’s funny to me that after attending IHS each year and spending many twelve hour days on my feet walking the show, I haven’t lost my enthusiasm and interest in gourmet gadgetry. I find the new products intriguing from the small silly cookie dipper spoon my boys would love:
To the TFal Actifry that “fries” food with about a tablespoon of oil allowing me to “fry”more chicken.
Two related products from Cuisipro won the Innovation Award for their new product “Date Dots”. These handy gadgets with their suction cups that stick to any storage container or integrated with a suction silicone lid that fits a wide variety of bowls allowing you to use your own dishes is certainly one of those “why didn’t I think of that” gadgets that allow you to place your own “sell by” dates on that dish of spaghetti sauce or that package of deli meat so you can quit wondering when you opened or made that dish.
Two more products really caught my eye. One – the new pre-seasoned carbon steel line from Lodge Cast Iron Cookware, is a fantastic addition of a high quality product that goes hand in hand with what Lodge does best, cast iron cookware. Cast Iron cookware, being highly durable, healthy (it delivers trace amounts of iron into your diet when you cook with it) and non-stick (if you keep it seasoned) does take a little longer to heat and, when heated, holds onto heat like the devil. Adding a pre-seasoned Lodge Carbon Steel pan gives you another lifetime lasting, highly durable, non-stick pan to add to your kitchen assortment that is much lighter in weight, heats very quickly, evenly and can replace any chemical coated pan when you find yourself wanting a healthy substitute.
Finally, at the end of these long show days, the idea of a Manhattan served over a round globe of ice drew me straight to this spherical ice mold gadget from Tovolo that makes an ice ball that doesn’t melt as quickly as cubes allowing you to savor the undiluted flavors of your favorite cocktail. No comments from the peanut gallery that this is the gadget that will get the most daily use at our house!