By Sol Vanzi
In the beginning, Man ate what nature provided, in the form that food was found in the wild. Then Man discovered fire and realized that cooked food tasted better, was easier to digest, safer to eat, and lasted longer thanks to the heat and smoke that dried and preserved food supplies for lean days when hunters came back to the cave with no catch.
Fire was essential for Man’s very existence. The hearth’s embers were never allowed to die; fuel gathering became an integral part of Man’s daily life. Cooking over an open fire was the only way to go. Tribes and families gathered around the hearth, which was the heart of activities. They slept around the fire for heat and protection against wild animals. Families literally lived and slept around a central fireplace in every type of home from the humblest cottage to the grandest castle.
It was only in the 16th century when Europeans moved the home fire against a side wall and began venting it through a chimney. By enclosing the fire in a chamber (stove) and connecting it to a chimney, a draught was generate, pulling fresh air through the burning fuel in a controlled fashion.
Towards the end of the 18th century the design was improved.
America’s founding father Benjamin Franklin developed his own unique cast iron stoves with much improved efficiency in 1744.
In recent times, a new generation of innovative, super-efficient stove designs began to appear. Microwave ovens are now as common as toasters were in the 1960s. Turbo cookers, conduction stoves, and slow cookers are no longer curiosity items.
Dream Range – As a kid, I used to cut out colored magazine photos of American blonde moms baking whole chicken, cakes, and cookies using sparkling white enamel stoves and ovens. I dreamed of the day when I would own one such cooking equipment instead of the wood stove consisting of three stones and a few steel bars which I grew up tending in my grandparents’ home.Grandma was a great cook, feeding 10 grandchildren and 15 jeepney factory workers using the most basic wood stove, clay pots, and a thick Chinese wok (kawa). I learned to make bread using the covered kawa topped with a few burning pieces of wood.
In 1976, I realized my dream in my husband’s Hong Kong flat which he furnished with the most beautiful cooking range I had ever seen: it had four gas burners of different sizes and a convection oven large enough to roast a small lechon in. We shipped it to Manila when his contract ended, and it served us well for 20 years.
Change is Coming – My husband’s gone, our five kids have flown the coop, and the range has long given up. It is time for change; the kitchen is as good a place as any to start a makeover, and I know exactly what I want.
My new dream range is a Rinnai with stainless steel burners which deliver the precision required to cook robust meat dishes, delicate desserts, and everything in between. I came face-to-face with it at a press event.
Two electric hotplates make me confident about alternatives in case the tank runs out of LPG.
The unit’s electric oven has a catalytic cavity that absorbs grease and reduces odor, making it easier to clean.
A built-in fan makes the oven more heat-efficient, and cuts cooking time.
Nine different settings allow for precise combinations of lower and upper sources of heat, with or without the fan.
Chefs’ Choice – What clinched my choice was the fantastic dishes prepared that afternoon on my dream range by celebrity chef Rosebud Benitez and award-winning patissier Chef Miko Aspiras.
“Coming up with exact plating requires precision, which Rinnai provides,” Aspiras explained.
Chef Rosebud added that in their profession, technology really makes the difference. “Not only does it elevate the craft, its precision engineering makes working in the kitchen a breeze,” she stressed.
Precisely the words this 72-year-old working grandma needed to hear.