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New Toy: Breville/Polyscience Control Freak!


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On 8/22/2021 at 8:30 PM, horseflesh said:

A few weeks ago my NXR gas range/cooktop bit the dust... gas leak! While I've been dealing with the warranty rodeo I have been doing all my cooking outside on a pretty junky induction cooktop. And I hate it, I absolutely hate it... primarily because the heating element is really small, so pots tend to get a hot spot in the middle. It's especially bad with cookware that doesn't have a good heat spreader, like carbon steel... or especially cast iron. It's almost unusable with either of those kinds of pans.  

 

I've been eyeing the Control Freak for a couple of years but with my new recent induction experience I am increasingly gun shy simply because it is an induction cooktop. Those of you who have and love the Control Freak, I would love for you to tell me that there's nothing to worry about in this regard. Or if it IS a drawback, knowing that up front would be a big help too. It would be too bad if I could not use my nice Darto carbon steel pans on the Control Freak, but it might not be a deal killer. 

 

 

I have been using a $50 induction cooktop for the last 5 years and I, too, have been eyeing the Control Freak for the last couple of years.  Last month, I finally got tired of the loud fan noise and poor temperature controls and decided to buy a proper induction cooktop. I was seriously considering the CF, but the features are far beyond my needs and I really wanted something that is simple to use. I ended up with a Hatco PIC which so far has met all of my expectations. It's definitely a major improvement over sub $100 PICs. My model has similar features to the CF including a temperature probe and programmability.

 

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On 8/30/2021 at 11:12 PM, jaw said:

the vollrath 4-series is worth a look. 

 

 

How big is the coil/burner on these? My main issue with portable induction tops, even the CF, is that the teensy 6 inch burner puts a big hotspot in the middle of the pan. I want something that can evenly fry four eggs in a twelve inch pan.

 

Suggestions are welcome.

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The biggest element I've seen in a consumer model is in the Max Burton 18XL. I haven't used it personally, but have been curious because I have the same problem with the elements on all the 1800W countertop units around. It makes me reluctant to invest in a fullsize 240 cooktop because I can't abide hotspots. I mostly use my Vollrath Mirage Pro to boil water and to deep fry (and sometimes to melt chocolate) because the heat is too spotty to saute or fry large portions evenly -- even with very conductive/heavy cookware like All Clad D7 and Copper Core.

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2 hours ago, nato said:

 

How big is the coil/burner on these? My main issue with portable induction tops, even the CF, is that the teensy 6 inch burner puts a big hotspot in the middle of the pan. I want something that can evenly fry four eggs in a twelve inch pan.

 

Suggestions are welcome.

My Hatco Rapide Cuisine is similar to the CF and Vollrath, its burner is also around 6 inches. I only have decent quality 3-ply stainless steel cookware, and they are not the most even, but I find that heating the pans slowly helps.

 

I agree that it would be nice to have an 8-inch+ burner, but that would make these portable units larger and costlier. Also keep in mind that compared to consumer units (Max Burton, Duxtop, Salton) the CF, Vollrath, and Hatco units are at a completely different level when it comes to build quality and temperature control.

 

I have not used the Max Burton 18XL, but based on reviews, it doesn't appear to have good temperature control. If it's anything like my Salton PIC, I would guess that it's only really useful for boiling water. My $50 Salton PIC is not even good for boiling water. It always overheats and gives error messages if you boil water for too long. Sometimes you really do get what you pay for.

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6 hours ago, cgman117 said:

My Hatco Rapide Cuisine...

 

Is this your guy? And, do you happen to know if this is one of those brands that won't provide a warranty for home use? 

 

https://www.webstaurantstore.com/hatco-irng-pc1-18-rapide-cuisine-stainless-steel-black-countertop-induction-range-cooker-120v-1800w/413IRNGPC118.html

 

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15 hours ago, horseflesh said:

 

Is this your guy? And, do you happen to know if this is one of those brands that won't provide a warranty for home use? 

 

https://www.webstaurantstore.com/hatco-irng-pc1-18-rapide-cuisine-stainless-steel-black-countertop-induction-range-cooker-120v-1800w/413IRNGPC118.html

 

Yes, except I have the 1440w model. The unit comes with a 1-yr warranty and the terms on their website doesn't have exclusions for residential use. However, for extra protection, I purchased it using a credit card that extends the warranty to 2 years.

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33 minutes ago, horseflesh said:

 

Ah yes that makes sense... I don't have a 20A circuit for it either. Thanks for verifying the warranty info. Nice looking unit, I need to read some more about it. 

Yes, the 1800W Canadian model requires a 20A circuit and a NEMA 5-20P outlet. I actually have 20A and NEMA 5-20P outlets in my kitchen, but I decided I don't need the 1800W, and it will be handy to be able to use the unit on a 15A circuit.

 

What I've found so far is the 1440W Hatco is more efficient than the 1800W Salton. The induction coil in the Salton is very uneven and cycles more often. I'm assuming the cycling is caused by the simpler and cheaper electronics, and is also used to prevent overheating. The Hatco induction coil is very even and there's no noticeable cycling when using it in the power level mode.

Edited by cgman117 (log)
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  • 1 month later...
On 8/27/2021 at 1:32 PM, andrewk512 said:

I would love to get a Control Freak but instead I have ordered the Hestan Cue + Thermometer at 1/10th of the price of the Control Freak. There is not much info out there about it probably because it is not marketed towards serious cooks. It doesn't have the full versatility of the Control Freak but the main thing I wanted to be able to do was hold liquids at a relatively close temp - for keeping emulsified sauces warm, cooking ice cream base, poaching etc. I will report back once it arrives.

 

So after having this a few months, the technology works good - good temp control within ~3 degrees, which is all I need really. I do miss the ability to control the rate of heat change (it always goes full heat until it reaches desired temp, which I learned after trying to heat some egg whites for meringue...)

 

Overall for the price I would've said it is worth it, but the huge caveat and the reason I cannot recommend it is that that software is atrocious. I have been having major connection issues with my thermometer almost every time I use the machine. It also requires your phone to have the app open and in focus to maintain temp control.

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21 minutes ago, andrewk512 said:

It also requires your phone to have the app open and in focus to maintain temp control.

 

Wait, so if I want the Control Freak to keep a pot at a certain temperature, that cannot be done without use of the mobile app?!

 

If that's the case it's an absolute deal killer and I'm unsubscribing from the thread, LOL. 

 

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1 hour ago, horseflesh said:

 

Wait, so if I want the Control Freak to keep a pot at a certain temperature, that cannot be done without use of the mobile app?!

 

If that's the case it's an absolute deal killer and I'm unsubscribing from the thread, LOL. 

 

I am referring to the Hestan Cue, a similar product at a much cheaper price point

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1 hour ago, horseflesh said:

 

Wait, so if I want the Control Freak to keep a pot at a certain temperature, that cannot be done without use of the mobile app?!

 

If that's the case it's an absolute deal killer and I'm unsubscribing from the thread, LOL. 

 

 

With the Paragon, use of its app is optional.  All controls are on the front panel.  Plus it doesn't ramp to the set temperature at full blast unless you tell it too.  (There are two settings:  rapid precise and gentle precise.)

Cooking is cool.  And kitchen gear is even cooler.  -- Chad Ward

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

I bought my Control Freak with the images of confits, ramens, and braises in my head, and it's turned into a Hollandaise machine. 

 

Not only making, but especially reheating leftover.  I'm the only Hollandaise lover in the house, so I still make a serving for four, but put the rest in the fridge.  The next morning I set the Freak to 125, stir in a heaping teaspoon at a time into a saucepan and whisk, and you can't tell it wasn't freshly made.

 

Does the food pyramid still say you're supposed to eat 6-8 quarts of butter sauces per week?

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  • 1 month later...

I’ve got steaks down with the CF, and am almost ready to quit reverse sear or SV entirely for them. 

 

Two steps, max heat with avo oil, flipping every minute until the crust is nice and ready, then dial it back to 300F flipping every two-to-three minutes to finish cooking. I still use a thermapen instead of the probe. 

 

Since 300F is right on the cusp of the minimum Maillard temp, it kinda just stops browning.  And a 2” steak is done in 10 minutes instead of hours. It doesn’t make the perfect edge-to-edge pink but the grey bands are very minimal. And maybe I’ve just been getting fantastic cuts lately, but I’ve been enjoying them more than my SV runs. 

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  • 3 months later...

Still curious about the coil size on the control freak. Has anyone done a flour test to see the exact size of the heating area?

 

Also, the control freak is a few years old now. Think it will be updated soon?

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ATK did testing of induction burners - in their review they said:

 

"We wondered why some of the heating coils were so much smaller than the bottoms of our full-size pans. One factor is that a smaller coil is cheaper to manufacture, so the less expensive units tended to have coils about 6 inches in diameter, while the priciest and most powerful unit's coil was approximately 9 inches."

The Breville was the 9 incher

 

The full review is pay walled.

 

p

 

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I don't know how induction coils really work, but it seems like the size of the coil and the size of the hot spot in the pan are not the same. Like really not the same. That brown spot in the Control Freak flour test is not nine inches across. And there's always a cold spot in the middle too. I'm surprised that the Control Freak is as accurate as it is given that its temperature sensor is in that cold zone. 

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Despite ATK's review, that doesn't seem conclusive.

 

I feel like if it's 9 inches for sure I'd probably buy one. Should be big enough for the bottom of my 12 inch carbon steel pan (and everything else, of course).

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I've used my Kuhn Rikon hotel pressure cooker (11" diameter) on the CF for a couple of years now. I use it as a normal pot as well.

 

The pan heats up evenly and accurately. A couple of times I've overheated the milk while making yogurt and had lightly caramelized milk solids on the bottom of the pan; the stuck bits covered the pan from edge to edge without a ring.

 

I haven't tried the flour test, will have to play around with different pans. I suspect the pan base thickness plays a part.

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Conductivity matters more than thickness (cast iron is thick but is super uneven) but I get obvious persistent hot spots on all the induction hobs I've used, even with conductive cookware like All Clad D3 and Copper Core and super thick All Clad D7. 

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Man, nothing is more confusing than induction... People seem to love it or hate it. 

 

So far, I hate it! I have to live with it though since I am currently without a range and do all my cooking with one miserable cheap induction cooktop. (If my experience with what I have wasn't so bad I would have long ago upgraded to a CF or other commercial grade cooktop.)

 

Can anyone recommend a non-stick frying pan with really good induction performance? I have a Circulon Symmetry in my cart but if there is something objectively better I want to know about it. I don't care how much it costs, I just need one righteous nonstick pan to make the best of my induction life. 

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20 minutes ago, horseflesh said:

Man, nothing is more confusing than induction... People seem to love it or hate it. 

 

So far, I hate it! I have to live with it though since I am currently without a range and do all my cooking with one miserable cheap induction cooktop. (If my experience with what I have wasn't so bad I would have long ago upgraded to a CF or other commercial grade cooktop.)

 

Can anyone recommend a non-stick frying pan with really good induction performance? I have a Circulon Symmetry in my cart but if there is something objectively better I want to know about it. I don't care how much it costs, I just need one righteous nonstick pan to make the best of my induction life. 

These T-fal pans have been fabulous on induction 

 

https://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B01E3JK6IO/ref=ox_sc_saved_title_6?smid=A3DWYIK6Y9EEQB&th=1

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Those TFals are pretty light, but work fine. But mine was so light that it caused a problem when I was using it on my Vollrath Mirage Pro. I like to do a slow scrambled egg by setting that to 65C, but the TFal was so light that the pan got overheated and smelled like burning Teflon before the temp sensor knew what was happening. I had much better results with the now discontinued Anolon Nouvelle Copper nonstick pans, which are much thicker. Slower to respond, but more even and able to deliver a decent sear on account of the thermal mass.

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  • 1 month later...

A shot in the dark here, but has anyone taken apart the cable (I have the Canadian one with the NEMA 5-20P cord)?

 

I want to chop off the end and replace it with a right-angle plug -- the original plug sticks out so much it seems like a hazard (our outlets are about waist height), and was wondering if anyone knew the gauge of the wires inside the stock cable.

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