The Gourmia GCR1700 10-in-1 Multi-Function Robotic Cooker, aka the Cook-A-Riffic, makes a striking first impression. The multicooker's exterior looks like a finalist for a new Daft Punk helmet. The name is so terrible that it somehow becomes cute. And most importantly, it comes with a removable arm that stirs dishes for you.
But when it comes to cooking, this countertop appliance is a dunce.
The $299 cooker (it's selling a lot cheaper on Amazon) claims to be able to perform 10 common kitchen tasks. In reality, the cooker only has four core functions -- stir-fry, steam, stew and grill. From those functions, you have to tweak the default time and temperature settings to access the other six cooking modes -- sauté, pan-fry, sauces, slow-cook, soup and bake. For example, if you want to slow cook, you have to use the stew mode, then change the time and temperature at which you want to cook your dish.
These workarounds are a pain, especially if you're working with a recipe that doesn't specify temperatures (a slow-cooker recipe usually tells you to cook something on low or high rather than, say, 350 degrees). To make matters worse, you can't dial up or down to get exact numbers -- the minimum temperature is 122 degrees, the max is 428 degrees, and there are seemingly random set temperatures in between. And be careful if you don't adjust the default temperatures -- the cooking pot gets hot quickly, which resulted in some burnt-bottomed chocolate chip cookies and a pot roast that looked like it was wearing a leather jacket.
The removable stirring arm is the one highlight of the appliance. You slip the arm into a part of the machine that extends above the cooking pot, and it will automatically rotate the arm when you're operating in stir-fry or stew mode. The attachment rotates slowly enough to keep vegetables from burning, and some broccoli and carrots I chopped for a stir-fry turned out pretty tasty.
But the handy arm isn't enough to save the Cook-A-Riffic from itself. It takes up a lot of space, even though the cooking pot is relatively shallow. Its design makes it hard to keep the lid clean and creates some hard-to-reach spots in the cooking pot. Skip the this appliance and go for a multicooker that can perform all of its promised tasks well.