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A veteran sous-vide machine maker wants to make a hands-off cooking method even easier. Nomiku will add meal delivery and a scan-to-cook feature to the third generation of its $149 Wi-Fi-enabled sous-vide immersion circulator for automated water bath cooking.
Nomiku's new cooker can read Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags on frozen, packaged food that the company will send to you as part of the Nomiku Sous Chef Meal program. The tags contain information about how long and at what water temperature your food needs to cook. You attach the immersion circulator to a large container of water and wave the package in front of the device. It will read the RFID tag and automatically start heating the water according to the information in the tag, so all you have to do is drop the food into the container.
One hundred customers will test the the Nomiku Sous Chef Meal program starting in May. Lisa Q. Fetterman, Nomiku's co-founder and CEO, says the company will work to extend the program to the rest of the US after its first month.
The Nomiku Sous Chef Meal program could appeal to a busy home cook who doesn't have the time to prep a meal for a water bath, or the cook who doesn't quite know how. But Nomiku will have to prove that its meals are as good as or better than what you can make at home, and that it's worth the cost: Main courses will cost $8 to $14, and side dishes will cost $4 to $6. (Once you buy $300 worth of meals, you'll get a $149 food credit in return.) Nomiku recommends one main course and two sides per person, so a dinner for two could cost between $32 and $52.
Nomiku was one of the first companies to introduce a sous-vide immersion circulator for home use with its successful Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign in 2012. Sous vide is a relatively new method of cooking in which you vacuum-seal food in plastic bags and cook it in a water bath. Immersion circulators like the Nomiku regulate the temperature of the water so your food cooks evenly. Restaurants and caterers have used the technique for decades now, but more home cooks gained access to sous vide when relatively low-cost immersion circulators like Nomiku became available.
Since Nomiku's debut, the sous-vide competition has gotten pretty stiff. Manufacturers like Anova Culinary and ChefSteps began to make their own immersion circulators, some of which were less expensive than the original Nomiku. And a delay in the release of the WiFi Nomiku gave other companies the chance to add Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity faster so home cooks could control their devices from their phones.
The addition of scanning and meal delivery -- two firsts for mainstream sous vide -- could help Nomiku separate itself from its competitors. And the RFID scanning for automated cooking is right in line with the increasing amount of automation we've seen in small kitchen appliances. For example, meal delivery is part of the appeal of the yet-to-be-released Tovala countertop oven, which will read the RFID tags on packaged meals and cook them accordingly. And the June Intelligent Oven uses facial recognition technology to identify food you put in the appliance and cook it automatically. All of these appliances want to remove the guesswork from cooking for ambitious, tech-minded home cooks.