Smart ovens, connected ovens -- whatever you choose to call them -- are getting popular, with a half-dozen models that come with Wi-Fi and companion smartphone apps. The Brava is a little different; rather than using traditional heating elements, it cooks with light -- a combination of visible and invisible light waves -- and that eliminates the need for preheating. The base model, dubbed the Starter Set, regularly sells for $1,095, but right now you can get the.
That's not the only deal happening right now. If you visit Brava by clicking the link, you can save $200 on the Bake & Breakfast ($1,095) and get $300 off the Chef's Choice ($1,195). In each case, you get the Brava oven, a temperature sensor and two years of Brava Plus membership, which features regularly updated recipes beamed directly to the oven (and the mobile app). The difference in the bundles is the various accessory trays and pans.
Even at the low end, the Brava Starter Set costs $995, which is a lot of money for a countertop oven, so I spent some time running it through its paces. It's important to get a sense of the Brava because it doesn't work like a typical toaster oven, in which you simply toss some food on the tray and turn it on.
Instead, you browse for recipes using the touchscreen display on the Brava itself or using the mobile app on your phone. This interface is especially cool; if you find a recipe you want to make while lying on the sofa, you can send it to the oven with a single tap, so it's ready for you at dinnertime.
There are single-ingredient recipes in the app, like chicken, fish or pizza, as well as complete meals that include protein and veggies -- about 650 in total, and new ones get added each month. When you're ready to cook, you arrange the items on the tray per the directions, and then slide it into the oven and let the Brava take it from there.
Each tray has clearly marked cooking zones: You might arrange fish in one zone and the vegetables in a different zone, for example, because the Brava can precisely cook each zone separately thanks to the high-tech lightwave cooking. Some recipes ask you to insert the included temperature probe in your protein, while others cook based on time alone. Regardless, you can check in on the progress without opening the door thanks to cameras inside the oven.
I'll admit: I love to cook, and I love kitchen toys. My sous vide cooker is a prized possession, and I subscribe to several different meal delivery services so I can easily make fairly elaborate meals every night of the week. With that in mind, I'll say that I really enjoyed using the Brava. There's a good variety of recipes in the Brava database, including some really tasty deserts. Not only have I made traditional dinners like chicken and sweet potatoes, but I created my own homemade chicken tenders, homemade pizza (an easy starter recipe for Brava newbies) and several kinds of apple turnovers, just to name a few things that have come out of the oven. It was all awesome, and the included trays and pans clean up easily in the dishwasher.
There are some caveats worth noting. The Brava takes up a lot of counter space -- a serious constraint in my current kitchen -- and at the same time, the actual interior space is pretty limited, so you won't be making large meals in this thing. And while you can take the stick and fly it manually, the best Brava experience happens when you pick a recipe, follow the directions and make something from the Brava database. You can.
First published earlier this year. Updated with a new set of deals.
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