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david goodfellow

Michelin Guide, Great Britain & Ireland 2013

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robert45, I would recommend you try the The Hand and Flowers in Marlow - neither underwhelming nor overpriced. Might change your mind about starred pubs.

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robert45, I would recommend you try the The Hand and Flowers in Marlow - neither underwhelming nor overpriced. Might change your mind about starred pubs.

I have indeed visited the above, earlier in the year whilst on business. To be perfectly honest I found it not only very underwhelming but disappointing, in as much as it having two stars attached to it. Why?? I found the whole experience very average to be honest. I could not understand why such an establishment would be awarded like it has. Almost random. The two star rating was to me completely unjustified and more importantly totally unnecessary. I did actually contact the guide to convey my thoughts because I did think in this case it was just ridiculous on the guides part. Im sure it would be a great pub if it didn't have all the guff of two stars. By the way, one of our party had to send back his beef dish that night, as it was overcooked. I had not ever encountered this in a two star establishment prior.

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That perhaps explains your view. I can only speak from my experience - where the food was excellent.

In a sense, the above is indicative of the value the guide has - in that their inspectors (presumably) visit an establishment a number of times so as to make a balanced judgement.

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Michelin's move to award stars to pubs seems further evidence that it's relevence to the eating public is declining. Whilst I accept that the ingredient-led Sportsman is, perhaps, an exception, I really can't get my head round the concept that places like the Harwood Arms or the Royal Oak Paley Street are offering star quality food, when I compare with other one star restaurants.

To my mind, there's something out of kilter. If those places are worthy of a star, then the UK should have hundreds of one star places.

I have not eaten at the Hand & Flowers so cannot judge if its cooking is on a par with other two star holders such as, say, Sat Bains, L'Enclume, Hibiscus or Le Manoir.


John Hartley

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For approximatley the one millionth time :wink: , if anyone actually read the michelin guide criteria, (which is on the web site and in the releases) it all becomes if not blindingly clear, certainly the logic is apparent.

Restaurants are rated in their category, as are pubs, they are not saying Hand & Flowers is as good as Le Manoir for example, but that it is a very good pub. think of it along those lines and it makes sense.

Whilst a star is a fantastic boost for pubs (and they remain mainly my favoured dining environment, and indeed, i owned one) it does also bring the cross of 'you're not worthy of a star, no amuse, table cloths sommellier etc'. For a proper restaurant it allows you to charge the proper rate, without a star you get 'how can you charge so much? You don't have a star'.

As to Michelin in the TV, I think that is just blatant free adverts from the BBC primarily which amuses me greatly, can't blame them if some researcher or producer has decided that's the benchmark, but there you go......it's obviously got into the mainstream, a customer at Champignon Sauvage once asked them 'If they'd like one of those Michelin Stars' to which they had to politely reply, 'well actually, we've got two' .


you don't win friends with salad

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Restaurants are rated in their category, as are pubs, they are not saying Hand & Flowers is as good as Le Manoir for example, but that it is a very good pub. think of it along those lines and it makes sense.

I look forward to the village cafe getting its star very soon, then.

In it's "category" (like the Michelin website, I'm not defining what a category is), it "offers cuisine prepared to a consistently high standard. A good place to stop on your journey".

I recommend the full fry-up, even though for the £3.80, they no longer include a drink.

And the chippy, down the road, should easily get two stars. Well worth a detour, doncha know.


Edited by Harters (log)

John Hartley

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I must say I agree whole 'Hartley' with above comment.

Each to their own but I have found this whole situation of staring pubs a nonsense. Its all well and good the guide stating its is one star for this and that but I would imagine the mass majority of people who dine out can't ever see a difference. I've yet to hear a chef from a pub suggest they are starred but only in a pub sector. So surely a pub with a michelin star is in a win, win postion. From what I have encountered gaining a star for a pub seems a whole lot easier than it is for a like for like restaurant.

When I was overseas a star was a star but here its all over the place. I would image that a starred pub is talked up far more than what it can deliver? Obviously the guide is trying to be made more accessible to the masses, hence the growing fashion for pubs and the decline in restaurant support.

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For approximatley the one millionth time :wink: , if anyone actually read the michelin guide criteria, (which is on the web site and in the releases) it all becomes if not blindingly clear, certainly the logic is apparent.

Restaurants are rated in their category, as are pubs, they are not saying Hand & Flowers is as good as Le Manoir for example, but that it is a very good pub. think of it along those lines and it makes sense.

Whilst a star is a fantastic boost for pubs (and they remain mainly my favoured dining environment, and indeed, i owned one) it does also bring the cross of 'you're not worthy of a star, no amuse, table cloths sommellier etc'. For a proper restaurant it allows you to charge the proper rate, without a star you get 'how can you charge so much? You don't have a star'.

That's not quite right Gary. The criteria for a 1* restaurant is "Very Good Cooking in its Category" but the "in its Category" qualifier is dropped from the 2* and 3* criteria ("Excellent cooking, worth a detour" and "Exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey" respectively).

My understanding has always been that 1* hopefuls are judged against other establishments of their category (whether that is pub, dim sum or posh French) but that the 2* and 3* categories are judged against some objective level of quality regardless of category. This limits the ability of pubs to climb beyond 1*.

Hand and Flowers does seem a bit of an anomaly on that rationale (much and all as I liked it, The Sportsman would seem more deserving) but no more egregious than lots of other anomalies we could point to (the UK&I 3* list is in particulalry dire need of pruning - Ducasse/Ramsay/Waterside Inn...)

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I've yet to hear a chef from a pub suggest they are starred but only in a pub sector.

And it raises the interesting question as to at what point does a pub stop being a pub and becomes a restaurant?

Using my examples upthread of the Harwood and the Royal Oak, I'd suggest the line has been well crossed. These places may well be in buildings that were once a pub. They may even have retained the bar. But no-one is popping in for swift half of mild and game of darts. These are restaurants - so in what category do they achieve a star? Are they measured against other restaurants which are in ex-pubs? Does Michelin have a category for restaurants, say, which are in buildings previously a bank (even if they retain the tellers counter)?


John Hartley

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A friend of mine who frequents Michelin star restaurants worldwide was staying in Marlow to visit 3 restaurants, Orwells at Shiplake, The Hand & Flowers and The Vanilla Pod. He asked me which he would enjoy most, I told him the Vanilla Pod without a doubt. He was surprised but agreed entirely after his visit. How on earth did The H&F get two stars was his comment.

One star should be for pubs however good the food, they are basic. Michelin always used to say they took ambiance into account so no way can a pub, without all the trimmings of napery etc., be more that one star.

I am afraid when it comes to guides these days it is a case of who the chef worked with. If he trained under Ramsey or Blanc he has a foot in the door and as soon as he opens his own restaurant a star or a GFG high rating comes along a bit quick, regardless of the quality of the food he is serving up. You get a chef without a pedigree and he can produce some great dishes but rarely get noticed. It is all a case of, not what the chef knows but who he knows.

There is one advantage, it is possible to seek out some very good cooking at a price that has not been over inflated by accolades.


Pam Brunning Editor Food & Wine, the Journal of the European & African Region of the International Wine & Food Society

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I personally think you need to seperate experience from cooking here. I went to the Hand & Flowers recently and don't think it compares to any other 2 star restaurants (note use of word restaurant) I've visited in the UK. However, not to contradict myself, but I can understand why Michelin promoted it despite the lack of liveried staff and usual trappings. Just from a cooking point of view, the ingredients were impeccable and the execution exemplary. OK, it is re-invented pub classics mixed in with more inventive fare, but whatever the dish, the presentation was imaginative and the food hard to find fault with overall . A red wine jus that accompanied my best end of lamb in farce and sweetebreads wrapped in caul crepinette and pastry to create a form of Wellington, was as good as any I've had in the best 3 star; crystal clear and reduced to a depth of flavour that came within an inch of its syrupy life (I can only assume that was Tom's Adlard's heritage shining through; David Adlard was renowned in the industry for his saucing). And to give H&F further credit, the pricing isn't comparable to any other 2 star, it's much, much cheaper.

Lest we forget, the Fat Duck was once a pub. The catering industry was astound when Heston nobbled the 3rd, not because of the cooking, but the venue. Until that point venues were considered everything. It's no secret Ramsey only bought RHR because it was once Tante Claire and Michelin couldn't deny him the 3rd as a result.

I'm not a fan of Michelin. I do find them inconsistent in a world where the one thing they live and die by is consistency. But fair dues, they've really made efforts to move forward and embrace the British scene in recent years. Perhaps their innovation isn't enough though. Maybe, just maybe, they should consider some form of their own Zagat system that separates cooking from service, venue and experience. OK, they have a venue guide in the form of the knife and forks, but still... The advent of the restaurant in gastropub clothing is, I suspect, one that isn't going to go away and will need further consideration. Whilst the French have grown-up with fine dining, grandeur, white linen table cloths and (potential) over-staffing the British have always had their pubs and it's where, ulitmately, they're most comfortable. Put short, there's a cultural gulf and, in an ironic way, the more Michelin attempt to move forward the more exposed it becomes.


Edited by marcusjames (log)

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For approximatley the one millionth time :wink: , if anyone actually read the michelin guide criteria, (which is on the web site and in the releases) it all becomes if not blindingly clear, certainly the logic is apparent.

Restaurants are rated in their category, as are pubs, they are not saying Hand & Flowers is as good as Le Manoir for example, but that it is a very good pub. think of it along those lines and it makes sense.

Whilst a star is a fantastic boost for pubs (and they remain mainly my favoured dining environment, and indeed, i owned one) it does also bring the cross of 'you're not worthy of a star, no amuse, table cloths sommellier etc'. For a proper restaurant it allows you to charge the proper rate, without a star you get 'how can you charge so much? You don't have a star'.

That's not quite right Gary. The criteria for a 1* restaurant is "Very Good Cooking in its Category" but the "in its Category" qualifier is dropped from the 2* and 3* criteria ("Excellent cooking, worth a detour" and "Exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey" respectively).

My understanding has always been that 1* hopefuls are judged against other establishments of their category (whether that is pub, dim sum or posh French) but that the 2* and 3* categories are judged against some objective level of quality regardless of category. This limits the ability of pubs to climb beyond 1*.

Hand and Flowers does seem a bit of an anomaly on that rationale (much and all as I liked it, The Sportsman would seem more deserving) but no more egregious than lots of other anomalies we could point to (the UK&I 3* list is in particulalry dire need of pruning - Ducasse/Ramsay/Waterside Inn...)

The categories remain things like small hotel, big hotel, red to donate extra luxury etc, so the hand and flowers is still rated as a pub, not a restaurant but the cooking is merited 'worth a detour' .

Don't forget at the end of the day its roots are as a guide for drivers of these new fangled automobiles in unfamilar areas, pre -internet and food critics (probably) so the key still works. Turn up at le manoir on spec and lo and behold it's a luxury restaurant with luxury rooms with good food, the H&F is a pub with better than most food etc.

Does anyone put the same thought into the GFG or AA scoring methodology? I'm sure you'll find they are equally as idiosyncratic, but it just amuses me the arguments that are started all over the internet whether it be '50 best' or michelin when hardly anyone bothers to read the criteria before questioning the judgement.

For what its worth I think the value of Michelin is at the 1* and below level in an unfamilar place where it can guide you to the one decent place in a street full of tourist places.

Above 1* most are so well known they're not hard to find if you're looking for that sort of experience rather than, 'i'm in a small town in france which is the best of these places'. the 1 & 2 knives and forks are especially useful i think, which people rarely talk about.


you don't win friends with salad

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The trope, used by Gill and many other Anglophone commentators, that at some point in the past starred establishments were 'cold', 'hushed' and 'religious' is simply not true. Alain Chapel, the Ostau de Baumaniere, Michel Guerard, Troisgras, The Waterside Inn, Le Gavroche are/were all extremely comfortable and indulgent affairs and anything but the former. These comments, and the fact that they ring true to so many, say more about those that hold such opinions than they do about the type of restaurant that they seek to impute.

For decades, the British have had a massive insecurity complex about any form of eating out. In places like the ones cited above, the feeling of intimidation stems from an inability to enjoy what's on offer. But to conflate these remarkable restaurants with the horrendous hotel dining rooms of the 60s and 70s, which were indeed often 'cold', 'hushed' and 'religious', is just a public profession of ignorance.

Sadly little has changed in our psyche, we still feel very unsure of ourselves and our choices of restaurant are based more than the pathological avoidance of faux pas than any kind of culinary enthusiasm. In order to hedge our investment and maximise social capital we tend to choose the 'it' place over the subtle place. Diners are grateful to have 'scored a table' and the fact we are already participating in a desirable activity almost destroys our critical faculties before we've even set foot in the restaurant. Indeed, since we dine for instrumental purposes, we are careful to protect our investments and when, several hundred pounds the poorer, we roll out of Dabbous/Noma/Fat Duck etc. we make sure to say that it was the best, most mind-blowing meal we ever had. The meal is not for eating, but for showing off like Louboutin shoes or Cath Kidston clad children.

Which all means that in the UK and USA 'fine-dining' is not diner-led; i.e. directed by a knowledgable clientele, but rather PR-led in which marketeers prey upon our insecurities and ignorance. One gets the guidebooks one deserves, and our current examples merely respond to the market's clamour for manuals of etiquette that serve to shore up the social currency of the neurotically class conscious.


Edited by Putty Man (log)

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I can't quite see (yet) the heart of your argument, it seems to be a few vague allusions around the edges, but what is the guts of it all.

Fair enough, I'll restate what I've already claimed upthread, but with a few details. Outside, and unlike, France, Michelin has given up on being an arbiter of taste and now merely follows the pack (although shuffling it a tad in order to remain enigmatic). For me the seminal example is the Fat Duck, although MPW set the scene. MPW was the first Brit who was perceived to be a chef in the stereotypical mould favoured by Michelin. His cooking was never on a par with Koffman, Mosimann or the Rouxs, but who cares? Like Frank Bruno, Britishness trumped talent.

With the advent of the internet, the most recent Anglophone colony, and a first generation of adult users, what counted was 'buzz'. When Heston took up Adriá's postmodernism, it was Heston who got most of the attention for the simple fact that Heston as cooking in English. Sure, hardcore foodies know that HB's debt to el Bulli is huge, but again, compared to Heston's self-effacing British laddishness, Adriá is a rather gauche wog. By elevating the FD to 3* status Michelin also elevated a purported British gastronomic ingenuity to a similar status in the English speaking world. Seemingly no one in the UK didn't want to hitch their cart to this renaissance and peripheral participants suddenly had the chance to take centre stage. Prior to HB, the term British food critic was an oxymoron, but said individuals have worked hard to consolidate their position on a global stage and entities such as Jay Rayner distribute gastronomic pomposity throughout the English speaking world in exchange for coin.

My contention, is that Michelin was a late arrival to this back-slapping party, but was astute enough to realise that the UK no longer wished to be dictated to by the French, irrespective as to whether the French had a valid claim to superior gastronomic knowledge. What follows is a clever, but cynical, recycling of an inbred and deluded nation's opinion of its culinary importance. After all, is Michelin really in the business of educating palates, or are they more interested in sales?

One might wish to argue that the FD has grown into its global reputation, I wouldn't. Cranking out thousands of tasting menus a week, no matter how many chemicals one uses and how complex the recipes, smacks of making hay. Of course, I'd do the same in such a fickle market. However, there was no way that when the FD got 3• it deserved them on any scale. Michelin merely confirmed that Bray was a sort of culinary Carnaby St.

I think michelin is about assessment, judgement & categorisation - not sourcing. I don't personally see the value in using one sourcing methodology vs another. I don't care how you came across or came to know about a restaurant, i care about the quality of the assessment.

Which is where i find myself a bit lost on the novelty act lacking in technique thing, am not sure who you would cite?

This is certainly in accordance with how Michelin would like you to see them.

I can and do disagree with michelin's assessment, can't say i've ever cared about how somewhere came to their attention.

Michelin will never be completely right for anyone. What matters is the degree to which Michelin diverges. When this divergence is patently due to the ability of PRs to unduly influence the media, then, I argue, it does matter.

All social media means is that PR's job gets harder to add value in the traditional ways. They are who used to tell michelin about what's hot.

This is an empirical claim, and as such easy to point out that it is simply not true. PR employees register multiple Twitter accounts and harp on endlessly about the wonders of their clients. Indeed, a certain chef has been the benifiaciary of thousands of tweets affirming his, not obvious, sexual-attractiveness all paid for by the supermarket for which he works. This is because being sexy sells more food, and if your neighbour fancies X then you'll probably fancy him too.

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Putty Man - the cooking at the Fat Duck isn't 3 star standard? Really? Whatever your views on molecular gastronomy, degustation menus or Michelin I don't think there's any doubt it's worthy of its rank.

And from what I understand I think the influence on his cooking owes more to the work of Herve This than Ferran Adria, but I guess only he could really answer that.

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Putty Man - the cooking at the Fat Duck isn't 3 star standard? Really? Whatever your views on molecular gastronomy, degustation menus or Michelin I don't think there's any doubt it's worthy of its rank.

This depends on whether one believes that rank is an expression of ability or whether the rank itself confers qualities upon its holder. An extreme example would be Usain Bolt. There seems to be no doubt that he is currently the fastest human on the planet and thus his rank is entirely indicative of ability. At the other end of the spectrum we the Queen. She didn't actually do anything to earn her rank, yet the fact that she is the Queen confers upon her a significant status.

I would argue that when the FD got its third star, it wasn't a 3* restaurant in any meaningful sense. However, given that most of us rely on guides to undertake the job of ranking on our behalf, the fact that the FD became a 3* restaurant meant that it was a 3* restaurant.

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Have you ever actually eaten there? I know the food splits opinion, pushes boundries and - for many - isn't the most enjoyable meal they'll ever eat; I couldn't get my sister back there if I paid her. However, the quality of ingredients, research and execution is, I think, beyond doubt.

Every one is entitled to their opinion, but to say the FD isn't, or wasn't, a 3 star at the time of elevation is incredulous.

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Every one is entitled to their opinion, but to say the FD isn't, or wasn't, a 3 star at the time of elevation is incredulous.

Couldn't agree more. The star rating doesn't necessarlly mean you will like it, will order something you enjoy (ok this doesn't apply to the FD only set menu) etc but is a way of guiding readers to standards. The FD has excellent quality ingredients cooked to the highest of standards. You might not like the theatre, some of the combinations etc but it certainly merits a top ranking.

There was some suprise when it was elevated from 2 to 3 stars. From my point of view that was not to do with the quality but more shock that Michelin was willing to give 3 stars to something so 'different'.

Andrew


Edited by Andrew (log)

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I know the food splits opinion, pushes boundries and - for many - isn't the most enjoyable meal they'll ever eat; I couldn't get my sister back there if I paid her.
The star rating doesn't necessarlly mean you will like it, will order something you enjoy (ok this doesn't apply to the FD only set menu) etc but is a way of guiding readers to standards. The FD has excellent quality ingredients cooked to the highest of standards. You might not like the theatre, some of the combinations etc but it certainly merits a top ranking.

This is what I meant about protecting one's investment. Unfortunately, to a sceptic like me, it all sounds rather deluded.

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So, to clarify, you have actually been to the FD?

Yes, I have. On several occasions when it was rather charming brasserie and once as 2*. This latter visit was great, interesting food, well cooked with many of the well-documented surprises and tricks. However, it was amateurish, sometimes inconsistent, slightly arrogant and self-important and certainly not world class by a country mile -- in fact, not even comparable to 2* in France.

Anyway, before this thread goes completely off-topic, I'd like to restate my argument that Michelin's elevation of the FD was strategic rather than based on merit; that it was a reaction to the the 50 best list and the power of buzz in nations with weak culinary traditions, and that subsequent Michelin operations in the UK and US have tended to follow this reactive methodology, which, in gastronomic terms tends to make the guide of diminishing worth the further it strays from its French roots.

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      As one would expect, there are a variety of safety features built into this appliance. In most cases, these features are controlled by detection circuits, some fixed, some defeatable/variable. This being a commercial unit, Panasonic has set the unit’s defaults with commercial users’ convenience in mind. If consumers want the full spectrum of safety settings, they need to vary these defaults. For instance, if a home cook wants to make sure the unit powers off if the pan is removed and not replaced within 3 minutes, they have to manually vary a default. Likewise if the operator wants the power to automatically shut off after 2 hours of no changes. But others, like the basic “Is there a pan there?” detection and overheat shutoff, are there no matter what and cannot be defeated.
      C. Settings & Programming

      The KY-MK3500 features both power and temperature settings. For “regular” induction, there are 20 power settings, which range from 50 watts to 3500 watts. For non-ferromagnetic pans, there are 18 power settings, which range from 60 watts to 2400 watts. The display shows these settings in numerals 1-20 and 1-18 respectively. When the power is toggled on, the unit defaults to Setting 14 in both frequencies.

      The temperature settings are the same in both modes, with 22 selectable temperatures from 285F (140C) to 500F (260C). Other than for the very lowest temperature setting, each setting increase results in a 10F temperature increase. Usefully, the display shows the set temperature, not 1-22; and until the set temperature is reached, the display indicates “Preheat”. The unit beeps when it reaches the set temperature. The Panasonic measures pan temperature using an IR sensor beneath the glass; this sensor sits about 1 inch outside the centerpoint of the painted positioning markings, yet inside of the induction coil.

      The timer operation is fast and intuitive. Once the power or temperature is set and operating, the operator merely keys the timer’s dedicated up/down buttons, and the timer display area activates. Timer settings are in any 30-second interval between 30 seconds and 9 ½ hours, and the display will show remaining time. The beeps at the end of cooking are loud.
       
      There are nine available memory programs, which can be set for either power or temperature, along with time. Programming entails pressing and holding the Program mode button, selecting the program (1-9), then picking and setting the power or temperature, then setting the timer, and finally pressing and holding the Program button again. After that, to use any of the entered programs, you simply press the Program button, select which program, and the unit will run that program within 3 seconds.
       
      In addition to Heat-Time programmability, the KY-MK3500 also provides the ability to vary 9 of the unit’s default settings: (1) Decreasing the power level granularity from 20 to 10; (2) Changing the temperature display to Celsius; (3) Enabling a long cook time shutoff safety feature; (4) Enabling the main power auto shutoff feature; (5) Disabling the glowing circle; (6) Lowering or disabling the auditory beep signals’ volume; (7) Customizing the timer finish beep; (8) Customizing the Preheat notification beep; and (9) Customizing the interval for filter cleanings.
       
      D. Maintenance
       
      The KY-MK3500 has a plastic air intake filter which can be removed and cleaned. This is not dishwashable. This filter is merely a plastic grate with ¼” square holes, so it is questionable what exactly —besides greasy dust bunnies—will be filtered. Panasonic recommends the filter be cleaned once a week. Besides that, the Ceran surface and stainless housing clean just like other appliances.
       
      IV. Acceptable Cookware
       
      Panasonic claims the unit will accept cast iron, enameled iron, stainless steel, copper, and aluminum with two provisos. First, very thin aluminum and copper may “move” on the appliance. And second, thin aluminum pans may “deform”. Panasonic does not address carbon steel pans, but I verified that they do indeed work. They also warn of the obvious fact that glass and ceramics will not work.
       
      Buyers are also warned against using cookware of specific cookware bottom shapes: round, footed, thin, and domed. Trying to use these, Panasonic warns, may disable safety features and reduce or eliminate pan heating.
       
      As far as minimum pan diameter goes, Panasonic claims the KY-MK3500 needs 5” diameter in ferromagnetic pans, and 6” in copper or aluminum ones. My own tests have shown that in fact the unit will function with a cast iron fondue pot, the base of which is only 4 1/8” in diameter, and also works with a copper saucepan, the base of which is almost exactly 5” in diameter. Obviously, the field will be most active at the very edges of such small pans, but they do function.
       
      V. Evaluation in Use

      I can say that not only does the Panasonic KY-MK3500 “work” with copper and aluminum pans, but that it works very well with them. Thermally, thick gauge conductive material pans perform in close emulation of the same pans on gas, even though there are no combustion gasses flowing up and around the pan. I found this startling.
       
      Nevertheless, a searching comparison between copper and ferromagnetic pans on this unit isn’t as straightforward as one might expect. The Panasonic is capable of dumping a full 3500 watts into ferromagnetic pans, but is limited to 2400 watts for aluminum and copper. Despite copper’s and aluminum’s superiorities in conductivity, that extra 1100 watts is going to win every speed-boil race.
       
      I initially thought I could handicap such a race simply by using the temperature setting and comparing the times required to achieve a “preheat” in a pans of cold water. Alas, no—the Panasonic’s IR function signified the copper pan was preheated to 350F before the water even reached 70F! Obviously, the entire thermal system of cold food in a cold pan needs to come to equilibrium before the Panasonic’s temperature readout becomes meaningful.

      A. Temperature Settings
       
      Unfortunately, with every pan I tried, the temperature settings were wildly inaccurate for measuring the temperature of the food. I heated 2 liters of peanut oil in a variety of pots, disk-base, enameled cast iron enameled steel, and copper. I thought it might be useful to see how close to 350F and 375F the settings were for deep frying. The oil in a Le Creuset 5.5Q Dutch oven set to 350F never made it past 285F, and it took 40:00 to get there. I kept bumping up the setting until I found that the setting for 420F will hold the oil at 346F. A disk-based pot didn’t hit 365F until the temperature setting was boosted to 400F. The only pan which came remotely close to being true to the settings was a 2mm silvered copper oven, which heated its oil to 327F when the Panasonic was set for 350F, and 380F when set for 410F.
       
      The temperature function was a lot closer to true when simply preheating an empty pan. With a setting of 350F, all the shiny stainless pans heated to just a few degrees higher (about 353-357F) and held there. This is useful for judging the Leidenfrost Point (which is the heat at which you can oil your SS and have it cook relatively nonstick) and potentially for “seasoning” carbon steel, SS and aluminum, but not much else, since it doesn’t translate to actual food temperature. There’s also the issue of the temperature settings *starting* at 285F, so holding a lower temperature for, e.g., tempering chocolate or a sous vide bath, or even a simmer would be by-guess-by-golly just like any other hob—your only resort is lots of experience with lower *power* settings.
       
      With heat-tarnished copper, a 350F setting resulted in a wide swinging between 353F and 365F, which I attribute to the copper shedding heat far faster than the other constructions, once the circuit stops the power at temperature. Then, when the circuit cycles the power back on, the copper is so responsive that it quickly overshoots the setting. Aluminum, on the other hand, *undershot*, the 350F setting, registering a cycle of 332-340F.

      I conclude that the IR sensor is set for some particular emissivity, probably for that of stainless steel. If true, the Panasonic, even though it automatically switches frequencies, does not compensate for the different emissivities of copper and aluminum. And even if Panasonic added dedicated aluminum and copper IR sensors, there is enough difference between dirty and polished that the added cost would be wasted. Bottom line here: the temperature setting mode is of extremely low utility, and should not be trusted.
       
      B. Power Mode – Pan Material Comparisons
       
      Given the differences in power setting granularity and maximum power between the two frequencies, it is difficult to assess what X watts into the pot means in, say, a copper-versus-clad or –disk showdown. What is clear, however, is that Setting X under disk and clad seems “hotter” than the same setting under copper and aluminum.

      I will need to precisely calibrate the Panasonic for wattage anyway for the hyperconductivity project, so I will obtain a higher-powered watt meter to determine the wattage of every power setting for both frequencies. Until then, however, the only way I can fairly handicap a race is to apply a reduction figure to the ferromagnetic setting (2400W being 69% of 3500W). Given that we know the wattage at the maximum settings, we can infer that Setting 14 (actually 13.8) on the 20-step ferromagnetic range iis approximately the same heat output as the maximum setting (18) for copper/aluminum.

      The boil times for 4 liters of 50F water in 10” diameter pots shocked me. The 10” x 3mm tinned copper pot’s water reached 211F in 36:41. Not an especially fast time at 2400 watts. The 10” disk-based pressure cooker bottom? Well, it didn’t make it—it took an hour to get to 208F and then hung there. So that left me wondering if the Panasonic engineers simply decided that 2400 watts was enough for copper and aluminum. I have a theory why the copper pot boiled and the SS one didn’t under the same power, but getting into that’s for another time.

      C. Evenness Comparisons
       
      The wires which generate the induction field are wound in a circular pattern; when energized, they create a torus-shaped magnetic field. The wound coil is constructed with an empty hole at its center. As matters of physics, the magnetic field’s intensity drops off extremely fast as a function of the distance from the coil; a few millimeters above the Ceran, the field is so weak no meaningful heat will be generated. This means that most induction cooktops heat *only* the very bottom of pans, and in a distinct 2-dimensional “doughnut” shape.

      All of the above can result in a pan having a cooler central spot, a hotter ring directly over the coil, and a cooler periphery outside the coil. It is left to the cookware to try to even out these thermal discontinuities when cooking. Some materials and pan constructions are better at this than others: the successful constructions utilize more highly-conductive metals such as aluminum and copper, but unless the material is very thick, there can be a ring-shaped hotspot that can scorch food.
      Until the Panasonic arrived to market, hotspot comparisons between ferromagnetic and aluminum/copper pans depended largely on comparing induction’s flat, more discrete heat ring with gas’s more diffuse, 3-dimensional one. Dodgeball-style debate ensued, with few clear conclusions. But now, for the first time, equally-powered flat heat rings in two different frequencies allow us to directly compare evenness in ferromagnetic and aluminum/copper cookware.

      The simplest and easiest way to assess cookware evenness is the “scorchprint”, which does not require infrared or other advanced thermal imaging equipment. I’ve posted on how to conduct scorchprinting elsewhere, but basically a pan is evenly dusted with flour; heat is applied to the pan bottom. As the flour is toasted, any hotspots visually emerge, giving the viewer a useful general idea of evenness.
       
      I will later post the photos of scorchprints I made of 4 different pans run using the Panasonic KY-MK3500: (1) a Demeyere 28cm Proline 5* clad frypan; (2) a Fissler Original Profi disk-base 28cm frypan; a 6mm aluminum omelet pan; and (4) a 32cm x 3.2mm Dehillerin sauté. To make it a fair race, I heated all the pans at 2400W until they reached 450F, and then backed off the power setting to maintain 450F. I did this in order not to compromise my saute’s tin lining. As you will see, both the clad Demeyere and the disk-based Fissler did print the typical brown doughnut, with a cooler center and periphery. By far the most even was the thick, all-aluminum pan, which actually was even over its entirety—even including the walls. The copper sauté was also quite even, although its larger size and mass really dissipated heat; once 450F was dialed in, no more browning happened, even after 30 minutes.
       
      I conclude that the straightgauge pans were far more effective at shunting heat to their peripheries and walls (and also to some extent into the air) than the clad and disk-based pans. The latter accumulated their heat with most of it staying in the center of the pans. Eventually, even the “doughnut hole” blended into the scorch ring because the walls were not bleeding sufficient heat away from the floor. This was especially pronounced in the Fissler, the high wall and rim areas of which never exceeded 125F. The aluminum pan, in contrast varied less than 30F everywhere on the pan.

      D. Other Considerations

      The Panasonic’s fan noise at the cook’s position was noticeable at 63 dBA, higher than with the VMP’s 57 dBA. These levels are characterized as “normal conversation” and “quiet street”, respectively. Interestingly, I found two other, potentially more important differences. First, the Panasonic’s fan stays on, even after the unit is powered off, whereas the VMP’s fan shuts off immediately when the hob is turned off. Second, the Panasonic’s fan steps down from the louder speed to a much quieter (47 dBA, characterized as “quiet home”) level until the Ceran is cool to sustained touch, at which point it shuts off completely. I think the Panasonic’s ability to continue to vent and cool itself is a great feature, especially since a cook could leave a large, full, hot pan on the glass.

      The glowing circle is useless for gauging heat setting or intensity. And while it works to indicate a hot surface, it remains lit long after you can hold your hand in place dead center.
       
      VI. Summary and Lessons
       
      The Panasonic KY-MK3500 is a solid unit, well-conceived and rugged. It is extremely easy to use. It works well with both the common 24kHz frequency used with ferromagnetic cookware, and the 90kHz frequency chosen here for copper and aluminum. It effectively and automatically switches between the two.

      In my opinion, it points the way to expanding the worldwide induction appliance market to include dual frequencies. It also obviates the need to: (a) junk otherwise excellent cookware merely to have induction; and (b) retrofit designs to bond on ferromagnetic outer layers. In fact, in my opinion, my tests indicate that, in a dual-frequency world, adding ferromagnetic bottoms may well be a drag on pans’ performance.
       
      I also consider the Panasonic Met-All to be ground-breaking in what it can tell us about *pans*, because all metallic pans are now commensurable on induction. Clearly (to me anyway), watt-for-watt, the copper and aluminum pans performed better than did the clad and disk-based pans on this unit. Boil times were faster, there was less propensity to scorch, and the conductive-sidewall pans definitely added more heat to the pans’ contents. We may ultimately find that 90kHz fields save energy compared to 24kHz fields, much as copper and aluminum require less heat on gas and electric coil.
      In terms of heat transfer, the copper and aluminum pans came close to emulating the same pans on gas. And at 2400W/3500W it has the power of a full size appliance in a relatively small tabletop package.
       
      The Panasonic is far from perfect, however. It can’t really be considered portable. There are far too few temperature settings, and what few it has are not accurate or consistent in terms of judging pan contents and attaining the same temperature in different pans (and even the same pan unless clean). The luminous ring could easily have been made a useful indicator of intensity, but wasn’t. And it lacks things that should be obvious, including a through-the-glass “button” contact thermocouple, more power granularity, an analog-style control knob, and capacity to accept an external thermocouple probe for PID control.
       
      Most importantly for me, the Panasonic KY-MK3500 portends more good things to come. Retail price remains $1,700-$2,400, but I jumped on it at $611, and I’ve seen it elsewhere for as low as $1,200.
       
      The manual can be found here: ftp://ftp.panasonic.com/commercialfoo...
       
      Photo Credit:  Panasonic Corporation

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