(WMC-TV) - I have to confess, I didn't know anything about induction cooking until I met Jennifer Chandler.
Chandler, the genius behind www.cookwithjennifer.com and author of three best-selling cook books written right here in Memphis, uses portable induction cook-tops in her cooking demonstrations.
"You have to have a certain type of pot to use it," Chandler said.
Using a magnetic field instead of a heating element, induction cook-tops cook faster, more precisely – and since there is no exposed coils, they stay cool to the touch, like Chandler's professional cook-top does.
She said a professional induction cook-top can run between $500-$1,000.
But $100 bought me the Precision NuWave 2 Induction Cook-top. The box says "Stays Cool To the Touch!" It's demo video on YouTube shows testers cooking with a cut-out pan. The food in the pan is cooking over the Precision NuWave 2's magnetic field, while an ice cube sits on the same surface without melting on it! One of the testers places his hand on the cooking element – no burn or pain. They place a sheet of paper between the cooking surface and a boiling pot – it won't catch fire, even under precise, digital temperatures.
The product's box makes one more claim: "Boils Water in 90 Seconds!"
Chandler and I put that claim to the test. We added two cups of water to the induction pan that came with the Precision NuWave 2. We also added two cups of water to one of her comparable pans. She started her gas stove-top and set it to "high" at the same time I started the Precision NuWave 2's induction cooking surface, setting it at 220 degrees Fahrenheit – eight degrees above the temperature for boiling water. Remember, the marketing of the Precision NuWave 2 really sells its "precision" temperature settings. It's even in the product's name!
Well, neither pan was boiling in 90 seconds. In fact, Chandler's standard pan on a standard stove-top started boiling first – at five-and-a-half minutes.
About the cooking surface, it is not "cool to the touch." It practically burned my hand when I touched it!
The ice cube test? Forget it. It melted as soon as it touched the Precision NuWave 2's surface.
The paper trick? That did work. It would not burn, even under the Precision NuWave 2's boiling pan. But again, when I touched the cooking surface, it was extremely hot.
The Precision NuWave 2 did cook eggs faster than a standard pan on a standard stove-top.
However, I pulled the Better Business Bureau report for the Precision NuWave 2's parent company, Hearthware, Inc., of Libertyville, IL (http://www.bbb.org/chicago/business-reviews/cooking-utensils/hearthware-in-libertyville-il-33004359).
The bureau gives it a "F" rating for its "buy one, get one free" and payment plan claims that are "in violation" of the bureau's code of advertising, according to the report. It reads on to say Hearthware, Inc., "…failed to substantiate the claims as promised."
"That's not the kind of company you want to be buying something from," Chandler said. "My children could burn themselves on this."
The Precision NuWave 2 is a DON'T BUY.
Kristyn Fuller, public relations representative for Hearthware, Inc., issued a statement attributed to the company. It did not address the company's Better Business Bureau record, but it said the Precision NuWave 2 should have been set at "MAX/SEAR" for our 90-second boil test.
So much for its "precision" temperature claim.
As far as the hot surface, Hearthware insisted that was ambient heat from the pan.
"We have thousands of customers that love and use the Precision NuWave 2 on a daily basis," read the company's statement. "We always welcome our customers and potential customers to contact our customer service department with questions, comments or concerns about our products."