On Wednesday, at the historic St Lawrence Market in downtown Toronto, Philips showed off its latest kitchen appliances.
Philips set up a mini-restaurant on the upper (Mezzanine) level of the market, overlooking the main shopping floor. Demonstrators showed the products in action, and everyone had a chance to try the tasty results.
Products on display included two air-fryers, an automatic pasta maker, a smoke-free grill and a high-end automated coffee maker, as well as Philips' brand-new high-power blender.
The newest item on view was the Philips High-Speed Power Blender. It's an 1,800W (2.4 horsepower) monster, obviously aimed at demanding users.
The blender includes a "noise reducing dome" - a clear plastic bubble that fully encloses the blender's carafe. It doesn't exactly make the unit whisper-quiet, but it does dramatically reduce the noise level. For times when noise is less of a worry, the dome can easily be removed.
Five presets allow creation of smoothies, juice, nut butter and nut milk, crushed ice and so forth. There are also 10 manual speed settings. A recipe book is included, as is a one-year warranty.
Philips is still firming up its retail plans for the blender, but expects to do an April online launch in Canada, probably with Amazon.ca and Best Buy. Retail price will be $650.
Of the other devices, already available in Canada, my favorite was the Philips Airfryer. It comes in two sizes, the regular model ($329) and XXL larger-capacity version ($399). Both also come in ‘analog' variants, with a control knob, and ‘digital' with a numerical display and preset programs.
The basic principle is to cook food using hot air, circulated using a ‘tornado' system. Any excess fat is collected at the bottom, away from the food. Phillips states that cooking times can be four times faster than in a conventional oven. The larger XXL Airfryer can hold a whole chicken.
The most impressive feat shown at the event was cooking of very acceptable French fries in about 18 minutes. You might think the lack of oil would make for a dry, flavorless product. But the Airfryer turned out golden-brown, crusty fries that would be easy to get hooked on.
The Airfryer is available at The Bay, Amazon.ca and select Best Buy outlets. Analog models also sell through Canadian Tire.
Another way of cooking meals is the Philips Smokeless Grill ($349.99). It's basically a barbecue alternative, for cooks with limited space and restrictions on the smoke and odor of a conventional barbecue. Philips' demonstrator turned out very nice lamb kebabs in about 20 minutes, with roasted zucchini and eggplant slices on the side.
The top grill itself is removable for cleaning, and dishwasher safe. The Smokeless Grill is available at Amazon.ca, Walmart and other Canadian retail outlets.
The other two appliances on display are aimed at automating typical cooking chores. The Philips Soup Maker ($169) does exactly what the name suggests. Throw in some ingredients, select one of the 6 program buttons, and it turns the contents into soup, cooking and blending as appropriate. No supervision needed.
The Philips Viva Pasta Maker ($279.99) does much the same for pasta. Dry ingredients go into the hopper. The appliance kneads them and extrudes various types of pasta, with shaping discs available for spaghetti, penne and fettuccini. The fresh pasta produced at the demo certainly seemed superior to what one might cook from a packet.
The Pasta Maker is available at The Bay, Canadian Tire and Amazon.ca.
Though it wasn't specifically part of the display, Philips served up coffee made in an espresso machine from its Philips Saeco line. The Saeco Xelsis is a coffee-lover's dream come true (with an appropriately dreamy $2,799 price tag). It has a large hopper that can hold a week's worth of coffee beans, which are ground as needed for each cup.
A front display lets users select from over a dozen concoctions, including the usual latte, cappuccino and Americano variants, plus up to 8 custom presets. Water is filtered inside the unit. And the main works are removable for easy, albeit rarely-needed, cleaning
Philips should be applauded for its delightful choice of venue for the event. Though I live in the neighborhood, I'd never visited the Mezzanine level of the St Lawrence Market. Its open balcony offers an impressive view of the upper shopping area, while vintage arched windows offer a similarly inviting view down Front Street, looking toward the Flat Iron building.
Philips representatives explained that the St Lawrence Market event was more or less a one-off, aimed at getting some local media attention for its kitchen appliance line. I certainly came away with a much better awareness of Philips' approach in this space, so I'd call it ‘mission accomplished.'