“What Lies Beneath”
This has been the busiest summer I believe I have ever had. I have worked hard in other summers (our backyard consumed nine of them), but never I think at such a pace for so long a time. It’s because of the huge party we finally had on September 14th. I described that evening in a blog entitled “Some Enchanted Evening.” Since then, though, we had two more events in the yard, hoping to get them in before the weather turned. As it was we just did. The first winter rain came several days after the last event. Since then I have been preparing the yard for winter and working on a dry bar which we will put to use next year in the yard. But before autumn turns to winter, I did want to write about a wonderful party I attended in the middle of June. It was hosted by familiar faces in a familiar setting and featured new versions of old familiar friends.
I’m not sure if I blog because I write or write because I blog, but I do know that I have come to totally enjoy several aspects of it, but never so much, I think, than when I get a chance to see some of these products in person and to spend a little time with some of the people involved. One of these people is surely Jolyne Sevilla, who is Design Project Manager at Italian Kitchen Design & Distribution. Among her many duties, Jolyne is the one who puts together their occasional parties to introduce various new products. In June I got a chance to attend another of those wonderful parties and also to see a couple of old product friends in familiar places as I’ve been to IKDD before. They’re located in Escondido, CA, and for those in the area who are interested in a modern kitchen that is designed to work well and look fabulous, I really cannot recommend them too highly.
But to return to the party in question it was to show off the latest addition to IKDD’s line of Miele products. Actually, Jolyne is the moving force behind much of this, as it was her idea to include them in their showroom. The thing with custom design is that it is just that, custom, so the showrooms of those who are in this business tend to be rather static representations of things that might be included in a kitchen yet to be designed. But not knowing where the client’s needs and wishes will take them, it is difficult to do much with the kitchen itself. Move in some items and call it a day seems to be the modus operandi for most companies. Not so IKDD. What they’ve done is make theirs working kitchens. The appliances they’ve installed are not props; they’re tools. The line they most wanted was Miele because it complements the Miton kitchen line so well. Really, looking at them onsite it’s hard to imagine one without the other, but both Miele and Miton are anxious to point out that there are other lines of appliances that work well with Miton and other kitchen cabinetry that works well with Miele.
The other reason Miele was chosen, though, was because of the quality of the product line itself. I had several conversations with Jolyne on this very issue. She actually went to one of their product training sessions and had the opportunity to put some of these products through their paces. She said she liked them a lot because, “They are intuitive, therefore making them easy to use. It’s kind of like using an ATM machine. It prompts you to the next step.” She was also much impressed with the fact that this is a family-owned and family-run company that manufactures products with a life expectancy of twenty years.
IKDD is dead serious about Miele. My understanding is that it required a lot of effort from Jolyne to get it up and running, but she stuck with it because of a conscious decision that had been made, to become one of the few kitchen designers on the West Coast who actually represented Miele. They took groups of designers to Miele’s Beverly Hills Showroom for product demonstrations for two years before they finally got the green light to install them in their showroom. They started with two ovens and a 36” induction cook top which were placed in, as I said previously, a live kitchen design, which means they do more than tell you what a slick product line it is. They show you. Nowadays, they add a superior cup of coffee from Mile’s whole bean coffee system, and, as a special added attraction, the new Miele Combi-Steam Oven which was introduced at the June party. This last is a product that takes me back a few years.
One of the more interesting blogging ventures I had was also one of the more modest. My blogging partner and I were invited to a special event presentation sponsored by Miele, during which they demonstrated a new product. It’s been almost three years since then but I remember it quite well because it was one of those days in which it all seemed straight forward until it took a weird left turn, which led us off the beaten track as it were, but in the end, we got back on track, and what seemed at times to be something of a disaster actually turned out quite nicely. It’s because it was a West Coast event coordinated by an East Coast lady who was unfamiliar with the area, as were we. Los Angeles is worlds away from laid back San Diego. We ended up getting lost, bumping into two other fascinating blog subjects, then finding our way, as it were, and attending the Miele event anyway, an adventure I eventually summarized as “Joseph and Joe’s Excellent Adventure.”
What sticks in my mind so many months later, beyond the serendipity of encountering those other blog subjects, is the raison d’être for that trek north, namely the Miele Steam Oven which was demonstrated at that event. As I pointed out at the time they had a professional chef working his magic with their steam oven, but in the end what made everything pop was that steam oven. They actually placed fish, rice, and chocolate cakes in that oven at the same time, proof positive, as it were, that “no transfer of flavors” was not just advertising copy. Quite frankly, if I had developed a product that worked as well as the steam oven that produced such marvels to famished travelers three years ago, I would have happily rested on my laurels. Not so Miele. They have taken an excellent idea and made it superb.
The Miele Combi-Steam Oven (DGC 4084/4086 XL) is the old version on steroids, pretty much. It is larger and better designed. The combination mode allows the end user to regulate both the cooking method and temperature, but also the moisture level, and it’s the moisture that really makes it pop. This will seem like a reach, but I compare it to my experiences with barbecuing. When I first did it, the BBQs I had weren’t very good (because they had the coals on a pan that blocked the air somewhat), so I didn’t much care if I barbecued or not. Then I came across a BBQ that burned hotter (because the coals were on a grill, which had the effect of almost fanning them with oxygen), which seared in the juices in whatever meat was on the grill. It was absolute night and day. The same is true here.
A conventional oven tends to dry out whatever is being baked in it. Steam cooking makes roasts so tender and juicy that you’re immediately spoiled. Thereafter, a conventional oven seems rather barbaric. But, even so, there will be times when a conventional oven is just the thing, in which case you can still use this baby, because it does both—and does them to a fare-thee-well. There is something like 100 automated programs for meats, vegetables and grains that have been included in the oven’s food-driven menu system. They have also increased the oven’s interior capacity by 40% and provided easy access to the water reservoir without having to open the oven door and interrupt the cooking process. It truly is a complete system that has been completely rebuilt and rethought, but in a way I have almost come to expect that of Miele. A lot of advertising copy these days has been devoted to touting superficial differences among competing products, but in the end what really matters lies beneath, in the hearts and minds of those who do the work that makes the company prosper. Miele’s slogan is “Immer Besser,” which translates as Forever Better, but it’s not just words with them. It’s a moral imperative.
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