I haven’t. But the other night, I attended a cooking demonstration featuring an Aga cooker that left me intrigued. Here, at the magazine, we’ve seen images of and written about Aga cookers, but to see one in action and understand a little about why it looks the way it does is, well, something else.
The cooker demands a different way of cooking or at least thinking about cooking—or, as someone else put it, “a lifestyle change.” But for someone who enjoys cooking and who, uhm, likes new things, the cooker presents a fascinating prospect. The one in the demonstration was a two-oven model that had a Companion module attached. The former had the standard boiling plate on top, which can boil a pint of water in under 2 minutes, as well as a simmering plate; below, there was a roasting/baking oven and a simmering/warming oven. The Companion was equipped with two gas burners and dual ovens below.
I don’t recall seeing any controls, except a color-coded thermostat, and now, after watching a DVD included in the press kit, I understand why: The cooker is always on, which means it’s ready to go whenever you are and probably explains why it’s advised to keep the plates covered when they’re in use. Also recommended in the DVD? Using the ovens as much as possible to do your cooking, which can be convenient, as it allows you to leave your food unattended. In addition, with each oven compartment preset to a different temperature, the cooker offers versatility, especially if you’re working on the four-oven version. Here’s a video of a younger (and blurry) Martha Stewart demonstrating how to prepare an elaborate meal on an Aga cooker:
Absent conventional knobs to control temperature, however, mastering delicious dishes on these cookers seems to require some experimentation to figure out when things need to be moved, say, from a heated plate to an oven or from one oven compartment to another. Of course, having an Aga cookbook also helps. All of this is compelling to me. After all, what I love about cooking is that to do it well requires a blend of method, skill, experience, experimentation and a healthy dose of the Force.
The cooking demonstration was held in conjunction with the launch of Aga’s Pro+ line, which includes a 36-in. range with a self-cleaning oven. The unit is comprised of five burners on top and a 4.9-cu.-ft. oven that can be subdivided with an Energy Saving Panel (ESP), which slides in vertically for a smaller cavity and thus more energy-efficient cooking. Of note, the Pro+ line range received an American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) Imagine Top Pick award at the recent Architectural Digest Home Design Show, and at under $4500, it’s much more affordable than an Aga cooker.
Nevertheless, I’d still love to hear from those of you who have experienced an Aga cooker…
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