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New Toy: Breville/Polyscience Control Freak!


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11 hours ago, KennethT said:

@Anna N That's exactly what I did, and they turned out well (just not enough of them, but then again, is there ever?) but I was just curious if there was a magic perfect temperature that the freak could hold so I wouldn't have to stand over it for 20-30 minutes....

That's what I was just going to ask! LOL. The ENTIRE reason I spent the money on the 'Freak' was precise temperature control.  I'm a mediocre cook at best when I have to judge temperatures.  When I can cook something a few times, and zero in on the exact temp and time my food actually turns out so that my picky family will eat it!! LOL

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I got my Freak on today!  Williams Sonoma had the best price I could find.  

Some duck legs arrived later, so Duck & Sausage Gumbo tomorrow.

 

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Posted (edited)

here's my cleaning experience so far:

 

until i started deep frying on this thing, i never had any issues with cleaning. i just cleaned with a sponge and soap and water. no problem.

 

but the CF is imo a very nice deep frying tool. loving the probe control.

 

if any oil dribbles down the side of the pan, immediately stop what you're doing and wipe off the oil thoroughly from the pan side, bottom, and the CF glass surface. this will save you later on some cleanup effort.

 

but still, any oil residue that ends up on the pan bottom or CF surface under the pan will polymerize into a difficult-to-remove substance very quickly.

 

and so began my cleaning troubles.

 

i haven't tried acetone, but 90%+ alcohol softens it a bit. not enough to dissolve it, but it softens up for easier mechanical removal. not very effective though.

 

i finally broke down and used a razor blade to scrape it up. this worked fine, but i slipped up and left a couple of small scratches on the glass.

 

i also stupidly used a green scotchbrite on part of the surface. this did a great job on the residue, but it obviously left some fine micro scratches on the surface.

 

finally, i used baking soda paste (baking soda with a bit of water) and a paper towel. this gentle abrasive -- with some elbow grease -- will remove polymerized oil and doesn't seem to scratch the glass. or if it does scratch the glass, the scratches are too tiny to see. i wish i would've tried that first. but now that there's a few scratches on the surface, i know i won't give a shit about future scratches. so i've got that going for me. :)

 

anyone have a better technique?

Edited by jaw (log)
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  • 1 month later...

forgive me if someone has already posted this....

 

but those of us who were wondering where the competition is to hopefully lower the price of precision induction, Vollrath released a range of induction/probe based units in January.

 

https://www.vollrathfoodservice.com/products/countertop-equipment/cooking-equipment/induction-ranges/4-series-induction-range

 

@btbyrd put me onto the Mirage Pro and I love mine. This new iteration have larger coils plus the probe and are more powerful.

However only found one review,  that spoke of noisy fans and crashing of software and you can only save 4 files on their usb which is Java based.

 

Maybe in a couple of years there might be a few on the secondary market, as of now they are very expensive. 

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“Do you not find that bacon, sausage, egg, chips, black pudding, beans, mushrooms, tomatoes, fried bread and a cup of tea; is a meal in itself really?” Hovis Presley.

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Posted (edited)

PolyScience is doing a 21-day trial of the Control Freak. Looks like you just pay a $350 refundable deposit. Looks like it's just the USA. They say if you want to keep it you'll get a special discounted rate (but doesn't say what it is). There's a sign up form. First come, first serve. They'll send you the paperwork.  For anyone that's interested: https://polyscience.vyd8.net/44Rg9

Edited by CanadianHomeChef (log)
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Sizzle and Sear

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4 minutes ago, CanadianHomeChef said:

PolyScience is doing a 21-day trial of the Control Freak.

I hope this doesn’t mean Control Freak sales are hurting, and if they don’t pick up with this trial, it will become a discontinued product...

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3 hours ago, bpwhistler said:

I hope this doesn’t mean Control Freak sales are hurting, and if they don’t pick up with this trial, it will become a discontinued product...

 

Well, it was pretty clearly a niche product from Day One. I doubt they were expecting Instant Pot-ish numbers at any point.

“What is called sound economics is very often what mirrors the needs of the respectably affluent.” - John Kenneth Galbraith

 

"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

 

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12 minutes ago, chromedome said:

I doubt they were expecting Instant Pot-ish numbers at any point.

Yes...that’s a given. But there are break even numbers that must be met. And profit goals that must also be met. Instantpot-ish or not, it does have to meet certain goals. 

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3 hours ago, PositiveMD said:

Dang it's making me wonder whether I should pick up another one in case they discontinue it soon

I've lately been looking at the Vollrath series 4 line. It seems to have the control and accuracy of the control freak, but they have a 2600W version (220V) that's a similar price to the control freak.

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9 hours ago, CanadianHomeChef said:

PolyScience is doing a 21-day trial of the Control Freak. Looks like you just pay a $350 refundable deposit. Looks like it's just the USA. They say if you want to keep it you'll get a special discounted rate (but doesn't say what it is). There's a sign up form. First come, first serve. They'll send you the paperwork.  For anyone that's interested: https://polyscience.vyd8.net/44Rg9

 

 

https://polyscienceculinary.com/pages/control-freak-loaner

 

here's the real link for anyone who doesn't want the tracking

 

also, as of this writing, here's the terms/discount:

 

Quote

PolyScience now gives you the opportunity to try it for 21 days before purchasing. All you have to pay is a fully refundable $350 fee, and you'll get to try the Control°Freak® Induction Cooker with no obligation. You will receive a factory refurbished unit for your trial. If you decide to keep it, well give you 15% off the refurbished unit and put your deposit towards the price (for a total due of $924.75 + tax). If you'd like a new unit at full price, please contact customer service at 844-765-9724 or click here to contact us.

 

so you get a refurb unit for 15% off ($1274.75 instead of $1499.95), or $225 off the price of a new unit.

 

the way i'm interpreting this is they have accumulated a bunch of refurb units they want to get rid of and don't mind loaning them out towards that end. imo, they should have knocked off more than 15%. if they did, i'd buy one....

Edited by jaw (log)
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The Vollrath 4 series senses pan temp through the glass. Some models have an additional sensor that goes into liquids, but some don't.

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1 hour ago, KennethT said:

The Vollrath 4 series senses pan temp through the glass. Some models have an additional sensor that goes into liquids, but some don't.

 

how? infrared pyrometry?

 

has anyone here used one? i'm wondering how it compares to the CF's contact sensor..

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8 minutes ago, jaw said:

 

how? infrared pyrometry?

 

has anyone here used one? i'm wondering how it compares to the CF's contact sensor..

 
I know the Vollrath mirage series is known for temperature accuracy. Not sure how they do it. We have a mirage cadet at my school in the foods room... never used it though.

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12 minutes ago, jaw said:

 

how? infrared pyrometry?

 

has anyone here used one? i'm wondering how it compares to the CF's contact sensor..

I'm not sure how it works but they claim best accuracy in the industry. @btbyrd has a mirage (I think) and he spoke very highly of it.

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On 6/23/2020 at 10:39 PM, CanadianHomeChef said:

 
I know the Vollrath mirage series is known for temperature accuracy. Not sure how they do it. We have a mirage cadet at my school in the foods room... never used it though.

 

i emailed vollrath about their 4-series temp control (when not using a probe), and this is what i learned:

 

they do sense cookware temperature and support closed-loop temp control in this manner when not using a probe. how does it work?

it seems there is a contact-based temp sensor below the glass, so it relies on heat being conducted from the cookware, through the glass, and into the sensor. this is a cookware-air-glass-sensor interface, so there's some appreciable thermal resistance. this is fairly reliable but not super accurate, and i was told compensation is not attempted in software. they even told me that if you want to shoot for 140°F pan temp, you might try choosing a setpoint of 150°F or something.

 

compared to the CF, this 4-series cookware temp sensing is inferior imo. first of all, the CF contact sensor is spring-loaded, ensuring solid contact with the cookware. also, the intermediate material in the thermal interface is metal instead of glass. these factors mean less thermal resistance, and therefore less temperature drop between the pan and the sensor. furthermore, in my testing, i've found the CF pan temp control to be pretty damn accurate, which surprised me, so i'm sure they're doing compensation in software on top of that. also, the time response will be faster -- temp change should be detected more quickly on the CF.

 

still, i would love to try a vollrath unit. the 'expanded field' feature is interesting. supposedly the cookware continues to be heated even when it's lifted a bit above the surface, giving it a more gas-like feel. not exactly a killer feature, because on the CF, cooking is paused for a moment until you set it back down on the surface. i'm not sure pausing heating for a moment while you flip something in the pan is a problem. but still, that's pretty cool if it works as advertised.

 

https://www.vollrathfoodservice.com/products/countertop-equipment/cooking-equipment/induction-ranges/4-series-induction-range/mpi4-1800s

https://www.vollrathfoodservice.com/products/countertop-equipment/cooking-equipment/induction-ranges/4-series-induction-range/mpi4-1440s

even though the MSRP on the 4-series is higher than the CF ($1650 vs $1500), it seems the 4-series can, in reality, be had for much cheaper than the CF:

https://chefstoys.com/40642/vollrath-mpi4-1800s-4-series-countertop-induction-range-1800-watts-40642

https://chefstoys.com/40643/vollrath-mpi4-1440s-4-series-countertop-medium-power-induction-range-w

it's about $875 on this site. so from a price perspective, the vollrath seems pretty attractive compared to the CF. also, it's interesting that the 1800W and 1440W models are the same price.

 

i don't think i'd like that touch interface slider on the 4-series though. real knobs are much more appealing to me.

 

so, in summary.. here's my take on the CF vs the 4-series:

  • the CF costs almost twice as much as the 4-series
  • they probably perform similarly in probe-control mode
  • the CF comes with a superior probe clip (that awesome rubber ball thing)
  • the CF's pan-control mode (contact-based cookware temp sensing) is almost certainly superior to the 4-series in both accuracy and speed
  • the CF's UI is more capable with several soft buttons, knobs, and a graphical color LCD. this lets you display more info on the screen at once, like timers (count-up or count-down). the vollrath has only a simple numerical segment display, and i don't think it's possible to view both pan and probe temp simultaneously. the probe models have a touch-based temp slider (probably capacitive sensing), and the non-probe models have a knob instead; i wonder why?
  • the vollrath lets you run it in "dumb mode" without temp feedback if you want. you can pick power output from 0-100% or something. unbelievably, the CF does not have such a feature! you can choose from three power output settings (slow, med, fast), but it is always bound by a temp setting. sometimes i just want to cook "classic style" and not think about temperatures, and frustratingly, the CF doesn't let you cook like that!!
  • they both have a program mode, but it's not clear to me yet which is superior. imo, the CF's is not very useful, but you can program it without a PC, and the superior UI and display would in theory would allow for more possibilities.
  • the 4-series has an "expanded field" which supposedly continues heating without interruption if you lift the pan a bit to sautée or flip something. on the CF, it pauses for a moment until you return the pan.
  • unlike the CF, the 4-series is available in the US in 240V models at up to 3800W!
Edited by jaw (log)
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also, here are my general thoughts on the CF..

 

i short, i think it's amazing, but here is my feature wishlist:

 

first of all, it blows my mind that there isn't a "dumb mode" for classic cooking without temp feedback. sometimes, i don't necessarily want or need to think about temperatures, and i just want to cook like i'm on an old-fashioned cooktop. i want fine granularity of power output, which would be a breeze to implement given the full-color graphical LCD and physical knobs. something like 100 steps (0-100% power output) would be great. i've tried to hack around this by setting the temp to something really high and only adjusting the power output, but with only three power output choices (slow, medium, and high), this does not work well at all for me.

 

next, i would really like both pan temp and probe temp (if inserted) to be shown at all times. there's plenty of room on the LCD for that. for some reason, if you put it into probe-control mode, the contact-sensor temperature is no longer displayed. i think this is genuinely useful info to display at all times!

 

finally, i wish there were a 240V model available in the US for higher power output. i know i might be able to buy an international model (depending on power frequency) and just adapt the plug, but i'm guessing i'd be out of luck on the warranty and service front.

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40 minutes ago, jaw said:

 

i emailed vollrath about their 4-series temp control (when not using a probe), and this is what i learned:

 

they do sense cookware temperature and support closed-loop temp control in this manner when not using a probe. how does it work?

it seems there is a contact-based temp sensor below the glass, so it relies on heat being conducted from the cookware, through the glass, and into the sensor. this is a cookware-air-glass-sensor interface, so there's some appreciable thermal resistance. this is fairly reliable but not super accurate, and i was told compensation is not attempted in software. they even told me that if you want to shoot for 140°F pan temp, you might try choosing a setpoint of 150°F or something.

 

compared to the CF, this 4-series cookware temp sensing is inferior imo. first of all, the CF contact sensor is spring-loaded, ensuring solid contact with the cookware. also, the intermediate material in the thermal interface is metal instead of glass. these factors mean less thermal resistance, and therefore less temperature drop between the pan and the sensor. furthermore, in my testing, i've found the CF pan temp control to be pretty damn accurate, which surprised me, so i'm sure they're doing compensation in software on top of that. also, the time response will be faster -- temp change should be detected more quickly on the CF.

 

still, i would love to try a vollrath unit. the 'expanded field' feature is interesting. supposedly the cookware continues to be heated even when it's lifted a bit above the surface, giving it a more gas-like feel. not exactly a killer feature, because on the CF, cooking is paused for a moment until you set it back down on the surface. i'm not sure pausing heating for a moment while you flip something in the pan is a problem. but still, that's pretty cool if it works as advertised.

 

https://www.vollrathfoodservice.com/products/countertop-equipment/cooking-equipment/induction-ranges/4-series-induction-range/mpi4-1800s

https://www.vollrathfoodservice.com/products/countertop-equipment/cooking-equipment/induction-ranges/4-series-induction-range/mpi4-1440s

even though the MSRP on the 4-series is higher than the CF ($1650 vs $1500), it seems the 4-series can, in reality, be had for much cheaper than the CF:

https://chefstoys.com/40642/vollrath-mpi4-1800s-4-series-countertop-induction-range-1800-watts-40642

https://chefstoys.com/40643/vollrath-mpi4-1440s-4-series-countertop-medium-power-induction-range-w

it's about $875 on this site. so from a price perspective, the vollrath seems pretty attractive compared to the CF. also, it's interesting that the 1800W and 1440W models are the same price.

 

i don't think i'd like that touch interface slider on the 4-series though. real knobs are much more appealing to me.

 

so, in summary.. here's my take on the CF vs the 4-series:

  • the CF costs almost twice as much as the 4-series
  • they probably perform similarly in probe-control mode
  • the CF comes with a superior probe clip (that awesome rubber ball thing)
  • the CF's pan-control mode (contact-based cookware temp sensing) is almost certainly superior to the 4-series in both accuracy and speed
  • the CF's UI is more capable with several soft buttons, knobs, and a graphical color LCD. this lets you display more info on the screen at once, like timers (count-up or count-down). the vollrath has only a simple numerical segment display, and i don't think it's possible to view both pan and probe temp simultaneously. the probe models have a touch-based temp slider (probably capacitive sensing), and the non-probe models have a knob instead; i wonder why?
  • the vollrath lets you run it in "dumb mode" without temp feedback if you want. you can pick power output from 0-100% or something. unbelievably, the CF does not have such a feature! you can choose from three power output settings (slow, med, fast), but it is always bound by a temp setting. sometimes i just want to cook "classic style" and not think about temperatures, and frustratingly, the CF doesn't let you cook like that!!
  • they both have a program mode, but it's not clear to me yet which is superior. imo, the CF's is not very useful, but you can program it without a PC, and the superior UI and display would in theory would allow for more possibilities.
  • the 4-series has an "expanded field" which supposedly continues heating without interruption if you lift the pan a bit to sautée or flip something. on the CF, it pauses for a moment until you return the pan.

 

Thanks for the insights!

If the vollrath doesn't compensation, wouldn't it make sense to set it at a lower temperature, not a higher temperature? Like let's say you wanted to heat it to 300. If you set it to 300, it would wait until the sensor was 300? Surely the pan would be hotter than 300 at this point as it needs to travel through the glass? IF you set it at 290,  the pan should be closer to 300... no? 

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34 minutes ago, CanadianHomeChef said:

Thanks for the insights!

If the vollrath doesn't compensation, wouldn't it make sense to set it at a lower temperature, not a higher temperature? Like let's say you wanted to heat it to 300. If you set it to 300, it would wait until the sensor was 300? Surely the pan would be hotter than 300 at this point as it needs to travel through the glass? IF you set it at 290,  the pan should be closer to 300... no? 

 

yes, i think you're right. i quickly paraphrased what the guy told me without thinking, so i assume he just made a mistake and meant to say "set it to ~140°F if you want 150°F".

 

edit: to be clear, it's not just a time lag thing. of course there is one because heat takes time to transfer, but at steady state, there will always be a temperature difference. even if the pan temp is stable at 300°F or whatever for an hour, the temperature below the glass where the sensor is will always be lower than the pan temp. the temperature at the pan and below the glass will never be the same. that's why compensation is needed, either in your brain or via software.

Edited by jaw (log)
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3 minutes ago, jaw said:

 

yes, that's correct. i just quickly paraphrased what the guy told me without thinking, so i assume he just made a mistake and meant to say "set it to ~140°F if you want 150°F".

 

I think you may have it backwards.

 

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@jaw Thanks for that.  I had found a price for the 2600W (230V) version on webstaurantstore.com for $935 - this model has the temp probe as well as a dial for adjusting temperatures rather than the screen slider.  I understand that the pan temp may not be as accurate as the CF, but I think for my needs, it will be close enough, plus I really like the expanded field feature and the fact that I can control the output in 1% increments from 1-100%, which makes it emulate gas.  And at 2600W, it will be very powerful - enough to boil a pot of water quickly, or bring a pot of oil back to temp fast when deep frying without the fear of overshooting like with gas.  One thing I'm looking forward to is using my pressure cooker (a kuhn rikon) with it.  On my gas range, i have a really hard time getting it to stay stable once it reaches pressure - either the flame is too low and the pressure drops or the flame is too high, and the overpressure kicks in at some point.  So I have to check on it every 5 minutes to adjust the flame based on the spring valve.  I'm sure it won't take long to find whatever temp setting the vollrath needs to keep it at the pressure I want.  And a big pot of stock or something has a lot of mass, so its temperature won't change that fast anyway - so the speed of the temp sensor is likely to be much faster than how much that pot changes from instant to instant.

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17 minutes ago, KennethT said:

@jaw Thanks for that.  I had found a price for the 2600W (230V) version on webstaurantstore.com for $935 - this model has the temp probe as well as a dial for adjusting temperatures rather than the screen slider.  I understand that the pan temp may not be as accurate as the CF, but I think for my needs, it will be close enough, plus I really like the expanded field feature and the fact that I can control the output in 1% increments from 1-100%, which makes it emulate gas.  And at 2600W, it will be very powerful - enough to boil a pot of water quickly, or bring a pot of oil back to temp fast when deep frying without the fear of overshooting like with gas.  One thing I'm looking forward to is using my pressure cooker (a kuhn rikon) with it.  On my gas range, i have a really hard time getting it to stay stable once it reaches pressure - either the flame is too low and the pressure drops or the flame is too high, and the overpressure kicks in at some point.  So I have to check on it every 5 minutes to adjust the flame based on the spring valve.  I'm sure it won't take long to find whatever temp setting the vollrath needs to keep it at the pressure I want.  And a big pot of stock or something has a lot of mass, so its temperature won't change that fast anyway - so the speed of the temp sensor is likely to be much faster than how much that pot changes from instant to instant.

 

My Paragon was $69.97...and it has a spring loaded pan sensor.  Setting a pan temperature is great for pressure cookers.

 

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