A new startup wants you to clear your countertop for a Wi-Fi-enabled appliance that's part refrigerator, part cooker. The Suvie kitchen robot uses water to both refrigerate your food and cook an entire meal. Suvie's creators will launch a Kickstarter campaign on Feb. 6 to take preorders for the countertop oven, which will start at $429.
We've seen a growing number of small, smart countertop ovens. The June Intelligent Oven and the Tovala Smart Oven use a combination of internet connectivity and automated cooking to solve the problem of what's for dinner. But the Suvie's ability to refrigerate your food is new for this growing appliance category. Because your food will stay at a safe temperature until it cooks, you can put it in the Suvie in the morning, and the only thing you'll have to do when you get home is plate your food and maybe add a little char under the Suvie's broiler. The Mellow sous vide machine also has a refrigeration feature, but it's limited to foods you can prepare in a water bath.
"The real benefit of mobile-controlled appliances is only when they can go from storage to cooking," said Robin Liss, the CEO and co-founder of Suvie. (Liss is also the founder and former CEO of the consumer electronics review site Reviewed.com.)
Here's how Suvie works: The Suvie countertop is designed for meals that contain a protein, a starch, a vegetable and a sauce. Inside the cooker, there's a compartment for each food group. The top two compartments for your protein and vegetable are surrounded by a metal jacket that holds water. You place your food in the appropriate containers at the beginning of the day, and fill the Suvie's water reservoir. You schedule the time you want your meal to be ready on the appliance's touchscreen or on its app. The water from the reservoir transfers to the jacket and cools it down, which refrigerates the food.
When it's time for Suvie to cook your meal, the water in the jacket heats up and begins to multitask. The water cooks the protein and vegetable at the top of the Suvie using sous vide and steam, respectively, then it fills the starch compartment to cook what you have in there. (It'll also drain itself when your starch is finished cooking.) The sauce heats up while the rest of the meal cooks. You'll get an alert when your meal is ready, after which you broil your protein and veggies in the Suvie for a browned finish and plate your meal.
The Suvie's refrigeration is possible because of a built-in compressor, the same device you'd find in full-size refrigerators.
Suvie will have an optional meal plan in which the company will ship you prepackaged, uncooked meals that will feed three to five people (the company hasn't released information on how much the meals will cost). Each Suvie Smart Meal will have a near-field communication (NFC) tag, and the appliance will read that information and adjust to the specific cook settings for the various elements of that meal. We've seen more small appliance companies take a similar route and offer food plans with their products: Tovala offers packaged meals with a QR code that the oven scans to start cooking your meal, and the Nomiku immersion circulator has a similar scan-to-cook function for sous vide dishes.
"It becomes a truly seamless experience when you use our food because it's already prepped and then it's cooked in recyclable tray that you can recycle or dispose of," Liss said. "So by having a meal kit, we really bring the whole solution. You don't have to worry about shopping, you don't have to worry about planning, you don't have to worry about prepping, and the clean up is super easy."
But you can use the Suvie with your own foods, and the app will have recommendations on cook times for common items.
"We want this to be a platform for creativity and convenience but also innovation, and we want companies big and small to be packing meals for Suvie," Liss said.
Suvie could have a hard time convincing folks to sacrifice valuable counter space for the appliance, which is similar in size to a tall microwave. The Suvie isn't meant to replace your go-to small appliances -- it wants to provide another way for busy folks to cook. That means you'll still have to hang on to your toaster, microwave and most of the other appliances you love. But the Suvie's refrigeration could set the stage for other countertop appliances to try their hand at adding cooling to their products.
As always, please note that CNET's reporting on crowdfunding campaigns is not an endorsement of the project or its creators. Before contributing to any campaign, read the crowdfunding site's policies -- in this case, Kickstarter -- to find out your rights (and refund policies, or the lack thereof) before and after a campaign ends.
First published Jan. 29, 2018 at 9:41 a.m. PT.
Update Feb. 2 at 1:35 p.m. PT: Adds cost and Kickstarter availability.