From the looks of it, the 2-Oven Aga Cooker (shown in pistachio) doesn't appear much different from your average range. But it is. Not only does this knobless range run by radiant heat and remain constantly at temperature, it is also a popular choice for Jewish customers looking for a StarK-approved appliance, which can be used on the Sabbath and on Jewish holidays. This heat storage range enables observant Jews to comply with religious cooking requirements and is one example of the many products that manufacturers are developing with a particular ethnic or religious group in mind.
Though Aga developed and introduced the concept of heat storage in Europe more than 80 years ago, it was only in 2000 that it began to market the ranges in the U.S., says Andrea Greene, vice president of marketing for Aga Ranges, the U.S. division of the British company. Greene notes that while the heat storage range is an obvious choice for observant Jews, it's also very popular with non-Jewish consumers because it “affords you the opportunity to put food in the oven, walk away, and enjoy time doing something else.”
Michael McDermott, general manager of merchandising for GE's Consumer and Industrial division, has seen a similar trend with the addition of a fifth burner griddle on the company's Profile free-standing gas ranges, introduced in 2003. Initially intended for Latino consumers accustomed to using a griddle on a gas range, McDermott says, “When we rolled it out to the marketplace, we realized that every consumer wants this. People can use it to cook eggs, sausage, and grilled cheese.”
It's not surprising, however, that “the trend of cultural appliances is widening in terms of reaching a broader scope of people,” says Larry Ovalle, product manager for Bosch Ranges, which will introduce a “Sabbath mode” (not Star-K certified) warming drawer option on its ranges this summer and offers wok burners designed for Asian cooking. “There's an increased interest in ethnic food. Manufacturers are realizing that people want premium appliances, and this is one way to do it,” Ovalle says.
Whether you're selecting appliances for ethnic clients or not, these transcendent appliances have something to offer everyone.