Robochef ready to get cooking

The Robochef is a device that can automatically cook a meal. Inventor Don M. Wong spent nearly 10 years perfecting the machine and his company, C.P. Design, is now looking for factories to mass produce it. The Robochef can follow recipes stored on digital cartridges or memorize and repeat steps after they have been programmed. The unit handles frying, stewing, grilling or simmering and can flip food. Wong hopes to capture the mass market with a price point of about $300.


In Ian Fleming’s “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” a whimsical inventor creates not only a car that can float and fly, but a robotic breakfast cooking machine that handles every culinary step from selecting and cracking eggs to frying and serving them, as well.


Now, such a concept is no longer a mere movie fantasy. C.P. Design, a new firm headed by inventor and engineer Don M. Wong, will be presenting a new machine called the Robochef–at January’s International Housewares Show in Chicago– which boasts the ability to reduce the task of cooking a meal to a simple push of a button.


The unit, according to Wong, is designed to undertake every step of a recipe, once the ingredients have been placed inside a holding area. Its computer reads recipes off digital cartridges, or it can memorize the recipes after they have been executed manually, just once.


Once it is programmed, Wong said, the Robochef adds each ingredient of a recipe at the right time, and proceeds to simmer, stir-fry, deep-fry, stew, grill and even flip steaks, fish and other pieces of meat. “Each dish is cooked to perfection every time,” Wong said, because there’s no room for human error.


“This is a bookless type of cooking,” he commented. “Recipes are available already on cartridges, or, once you teach the machine how to make something once, it automatically learns both the technique and the recipe, and stores [them].”


While it might seem like a luxury gadget for the well-to-do, Wong stressed that Robochef is targeted at the masses, and was designed to make cooking an easier task for very busy people who can’t afford to hire a human chef.


“My objective is to make it affordable for every household,” Wong said. “I want to hit the mass market with this.”


Currently Wong, a former Lockheed engineer, is looking for factories to mass produce the Robochef machines, C.P. Designs’ only product to date. He has priced them to retail for about $300.


In addition to the mass market, Wong said he feels strongly about the highly visible distribution option of infomercials. “I think this is a really strong candidate for the infomercial people,” he said. “It would also do well in gourmet shops.


“I think we can achieve the same success with this as other firms have with bread makers,” Wong noted. “This actually has a broader appeal, because it doesn’t just perform one special function. It can be used for a wide variety of foods, on a day-to-day basis.”


Two years ago, Wong said, he brought the Robochef to the Housewares show, just to garner feedback, although it was not yet perfected. “The responses were only positive,” he said. Now, he’s eager to see those responses turn into orders.


“I have been working on this device for almost ten years,” Wong related. “I spent four years trying to patent it. When you’re making a complex machine for consumer use, it has to be 100 percent flawless, and now it is. We’re ready for market.”

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