Exploring Today’s Holiday Cooking Trends with Whirlpool Corporation’s Patrick Duffy

With the holiday season in full swing, consumers are relying on their kitchens to help them prepare everything from appetizers and dinner to drinks and dessert. However, not all appliances and cooking methods are created equal - especially when it comes to entertaining family and friends.

We talked with Patrick Duffy, Product Marketing Manager-Surface Cooking Planning & Strategy at Whirlpool Corporation, to learn more about which appliances and cooking methods are gaining traction with today's consumers during the holidays and into 2022:

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Entertaining is a big part of the holiday season - how can appliances help create a seamless and enjoyable hosting experience?

It's no surprise that consumers want to be able to cook multiple dishes at once during the holiday season. They'd like to cook their favorite stuffing recipe alongside their green bean casserole while the turkey roasts. Double wall ovens and double oven ranges are great solutions that help consumers simultaneously cook multiple dishes using separate cavities that can be set to different cooking modes and temperatures. Double oven ranges, such as the Whirlpool Electric Double Oven Range offer baking, broiling, and multiple convection options. For home chefs who prefer to have one large oven cavity, the KitchenAid 30-Inch 5-Element Electric Convection Slide-In Range with Baking Drawer provides two cooking zones by upgrading the typical storage drawer to a baking drawer for increased functionality. With baking drawers, consumers have a separate compartment that allows them to warm, slow cook or bake at a different temperature.

When coordinating multiple dishes at once, built-in warming drawers are a great way to keep dishes warm and ready to serve while you multitask, offering a convenient place to store side dishes that friends and family bring. Warming drawers use sensor temperature control to monitor the heat inside the drawer and automatically adjust as needed to prevent overheating. Consumers can also opt for a range that has a warming drawer built-in, such as the Maytag 30-Inch Wide Slide-In Gas Range.

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Many consumers who are considering a home purchase look at kitchen appliances with an eye toward the holidays. Why is it important for builders/designers to consider that when planning and outfitting homes?

When deciding on the right size oven, we often hear that consumers want an oven large enough to fit a turkey. Capacity is important (especially during the holidays). Also, having a flexible cooking space is another trend that we see emerging in a strong way within appliances. Consumers want their appliances to include a variety of cooking modes so they can not only tackle family favorites and explore new recipes and techniques, but keep up with the evolving food preferences of their guests during the holiday season. The KitchenAid Electric Convection Slide-in Range we mentioned above, for example, provides an extra-large cooking capacity in the oven for cooking a turkey or multiple dishes all at once. The capacity is also flexible in that it delivers multiple cooking functions. One of those is Steam Bake, which provides additional moisture to the inside of the oven using a Steam Rack, enhancing cooking results.

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Is there an advantage to using a convection oven vs. a conventional oven? How do the two differ?

A convection oven has a fan and exhaust system that circulate hot air around the cavity of the oven, reducing hot and cool spots and helping dishes on every rack cook more evenly. Convection ovens can also have a third heating element, called true convection, to help foods cook faster. Another advantage with convection ovens is the fan and exhaust system, which reduce the amount of moisture in the oven to help foods crisp and brown on the outside and stay juicy on the inside. Most convection ovens have a convection setting that activates the fan, exhaust system and third heating element. The convection setting can be turned on or off, allowing for greater versatility. When the setting is on, you're taking full advantage of the benefits of your convection oven. When the convection setting is off, your oven operates just like a conventional, thermal oven.

Convection oven benefits include:

  • Even baking and heat distribution
  • Less rotating of dishes
  • Improved browning, crisping and roasting
  • Multi-rack cooking
  • Run long baking cycles without drying out foods

Conventional oven benefits include:

  • More familiar functionality
  • Most recipes are written for these models

Something to keep in mind, however, is that many recipes are written for conventional baking. To help remove guesswork, models such as Whirlpool Smart Freestanding Gas Range ith EZ-2-Lift™ Grates deliver true convection with Convection Conversion. Convection Conversion automatically converts traditional recipes for convection cooking, adjusting cooking times and temperatures for the consumer.

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What kind of oven/range trends are you seeing this year and beyond?

We see connectivity and smart features as a growing trend this year and beyond. Take the Whirlpool Smart Slide-in Gas Range, for example, which includes a number of features that allow users to stay steps ahead in the kitchen. It allows consumers to use simple voice commands to control their appliance using a Google Assistant or an Alexa-enabled device. Yummly® Guided Cooking is another connected feature that makes meal prep easier by helping answer the question "what's for dinner?" before it's even asked. Recipes with the Connected Fork icon in the Yummly® app include step-by-step video tutorials that provide the extra assistance you need on busy days. Prompts in the app even send cooking instructions straight to your Whirlpool® smart range at the right times, so dinner's ready when your family's hungry. We see smart features such as these continuing to provide benefits in the kitchen that help remove steps and guesswork while enabling consumers to multitask and tackle more in the home.

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Although healthy eating doesn't necessarily go hand-in-hand with the holidays, do you see healthy cooking methods continuing to be a priority for consumers in 2022?

Throughout the pandemic we've seen an increased focus on both physical and mental health among consumers. Because of this, consumers have shifted their eating habits and moved to cooking and baking more at home in an effort to eat healthier. During this time, consumers have developed their abilities, confidence, and creativity in the kitchen by experimenting with new ingredients and techniques such as bread making. We expect that the cooking habits and recipes that consumers have developed while spending more time within the home will carry into the holiday season and beyond. We believe that healthy cooking will continue to be a priority for consumers and that they will be on the lookout for emerging trends and techniques, such as air frying, that will help them explore and create family favorites in healthier ways.

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Air frying capabilities have become more important for some home buyers because they can assist with healthy food preparation. Is it likely that more ovens will have that feature in the months/years to come?

Air frying is a growing trend within the industry and has been introduced to a number of models this year. Some models include air fry baskets that are built to work with built-in air fry cycles. For example, The Whirlpool Gas 7-in-1 Air Fry Oven allows consumers to skip pre-heating and air fry chicken nuggets, wings, fries and more to get crispy results right in their oven. The Air Fry Mode circulates hot air around the included air fry basket to cook fried food in a healthy way, with less oil than traditional frying. For easy cleaning, consumers can put the Dishwasher-Safe Air Fry Basket right in the dishwasher when it gets messy. The speed and health benefits associated with air frying are resonating with consumers and we see this trend continuing in the months and years to come.

Versatility in the kitchen is also important - especially for consumers who have guests with varying food preferences. The Whirlpool Gas 7-in-1 Air Fry Oven is equipped with seven cooking modes in one oven so users can convect bake, convect broil, frozen bake, bake, broil, keep warm and, of course, air fry.

For additional details about our appliance offerings, contact a sales rep today. Keep up with other trends and news in your industry by visiting The Trade Channel page.

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