Last Sunday Rachel, Elliott (Rachel’s husband), and I went to the International Home + Housewares Show at McCormick Place on Chicago’s Museum Campus. For those of you not from around these parts, McCormick Place is the nation’s largest convention center with 2,600,000 square feet of prime exhibit space. Needless to say there was an insane amount of walking involved. We walked about 10 miles in 9 hours. Once we got there, we met up with Gabriel Prero and his wife Lena. Gabriel is very long time friend of mine (since preschool) and a very talented industrial designer. If you ever have the chance to walk a trade show with an industrial designer, I highly recommend it. While I tend to concentrate on either form or function, Gabriel is able to look at a product and truly appreciate the marriage of the two.
To be honest, we did rush through the show due to its size. One could easily spend two full days at this show, as it fills all three major halls at McCormick Place. Here are some of the highlights:
Anova is coming out with some cool new items including a $99 immersion circulator. Anova was one of the first companies to bring the immersion circulator/sous vide cooking to the home kitchen, and at that price, this new product really makes sous vide cooking accessible to the home cook.
Aervoe was showing a temperature-controlled induction cooktop for $124. While it is not as accurate as PolyScience’s THE CONTROL °FREAK™ ,at a fraction of the cost, it is be a good option for the home cook.
The Loki Smart WIFI Thermometer, a magnetic ball that can read up to four (internal or ambient) temperature probes and transmit to your mobile device, was something I found interesting. It also has a social media component for finding and sharing recipes. They are currently in pre-orders with prices starting at $99.
PicoBrew was there showing off their Pico Personal Craft Beer Brewery. These things are super slick. It is a totally hands off system from start to finish with cartridges that can be purchased to produce your favorite style of beer. The cartridges can also be customized for your own secret recipe. Unfortunately, at $800 it is out of my price range. Of course, if they wanted to send me one to review I’d be happy to oblige.
Mason jars and fermentation were a running theme throughout the show. Some standouts in that space were mason jar top companies Masontops, Kraut Source, and reCap. Kraut Source takes the win in the fermentation department with their lid that includes a spring loaded disk that holds your vegetables below the waterline to prevent any nasty bugs from getting to them. From an aesthetic standpoint, Masontops comes out ahead with some great colors, a wooden cap with a plastic liner, and a chalkboard top. Finally, from a range of functionality standpoint reCap was impressive, with a wide variety of lids including a sprayer and a pump.
Like in past years, SodaStream was there giving out their sample bottles and showing off the new MyWater Flavor Essence. I really love these, as they are unsweetened, making them, a great way to add flavor without added sugar or nasty tasting artificial sweeteners.
We had some time to hang out with Chef Randall Smith at Ergo Chef, and play with their innovative knives. They make a line of RaBBi-Q knives developed in conjunction with my buddy, the winningest man in kosher BBQ, Mendel Segal. Chef Randall also competes in the kosher BBQ circuit on Team Shiva Que. I look forward to sharing a few drinks with him in the future as we cook brisket late into the night.
Finally we ran in to a few food celebrities including Fabio Viviani from Top Chef,who is absolutely hilarious, Jeff Mauro AKA the Sandwich King, a Chicago native from the Food Network, famous Emeril Lagasse, as well as BBQ legend Steven Raichlen.
For Rachel’s take on the show see here: Recap: 2017 International Home + Housewares Show!