No one is more qualified to evaluate appliances and cookware than Chef Jonas Hägg, After all, he has been the private chef for the discerning palates of Rod Stewart, Roger Moore, Ivana Trump, and Saudi Royalty. He graciously agreed to be interviewed by me, and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect in terms of what appliances he might favor in the kitchen…
ABG: As a chef who spends most of his time cooking in the homes of the rich and famous, do you find consumer appliances are not as useful as commercial restaurant equipment?
Jonas: Not at all. On the contrary, I often prefer to cook on residential appliances, as they are often easier to use and they often provide results that are just as good.
ABG: What are your favorite appliance brands, currently?
Jonas: Well, I’ve always been a big fan of Wolf’s products, even back when they were focused solely on creating commercial equipment. And their residential line is not only beautiful to look at, but contains features that would make many chefs envious. I’ve also had great experiences with GE Monogram and Electrolux products. They don’t feel the same, build-quality wise, but they work extremely well.
ABG: What about refrigeration? What is your opinion on the different brands out there?
Jonas: I don’t know the detailed science and features behind them all, but I can tell you that a good 80% of my clients have Sub-Zero’s in their house. There are a few that have Viking’s and I see a GE Monogram every now and then. I am not a big fan of GE’s Monogram refrigerators. I used to own a GE Profile and was surprised when I opened up a Monogram for the first time. The interior was identical to my old refrigerator, and I would imagine the technology is as well. That is not good on a product that costs almost as much as a Sub-Zero or Viking.
I don’t know all that much about food preservation, but I can tell you that Sub-Zero’s dual compressors and sealed systems are a big deal in and of themselves. You are always going to want more humid air for the fresh foods to preserve them longer, and less humid air for your frozen foods, to prevent freezer burn.
ABG: Are there any products you don’t particularly care for?
Jonas: When I worked as a private chef, one of my customers -I won’t say who – had a Thermador Oven that would take an eternity to cook food. Easily 10-15 minutes longer than you would normally need at temperature. So I called Thermador service and they said it takes an additional 10-15 minutes after the preheat alarm goes off for the oven to actually heat the corners of the unit. The Thermador service tech on the other end of the phone was dead serious too. As if this was a normal thing for all electric ovens. The unit took literally over 25 minutes to get the entire oven to temp. After that phone call, I vowed to never buy a Thermador product.
ABG: Have you ever come across an appliance that actually produces any better final cooking results than the competition?
Jonas: The only product I’ve ever been envious of is the Wolf Electric Oven. With most ovens, I know what I need to do to get the final result that I want. But with the Wolf oven, I don’t have to do a thing. It produces, in my opinion, better cooking results than any other oven I’ve used. I think it has a lot to do with the dual convection fans.
ABG: So every appliance company just needs to add another fan then? And we’d all be good?
Jonas: Well, it wouldn’t hurt. Convection was something that was primarily used in Europe long before it was prevalant in American homes. And European ovens were, on average, a good deal smaller than the American ones. So one fan was enough for the European ovens, but probably not enough for the American ones. I always remember the ovens in Europe as just working better than their american counter-parts.
ABG: Before we go, any advice to aspiring cooks out there? For example, how to be a better cook?
Jonas: Yes, practice. It’s not something you gain overnight, and many people get frustrated before they get better and then they give up. I always tell people, find a recipe you like and practice it until you can do it perfectly without the recipe. Then move on to another. Don’t be afraid to experiment by adding new ingredients. And taste your food before you serve it. Your palate will often let you know what might be missing.
Chef Jonas currently resides in Fort Lauderdale, where his high-end catering firm Dish Culinary plans and caters private parties for those with the most discerning palates.