People are really paying attention to what they eat and the Eat Local movement is definitely part of the mainstream. However we don’t think about local when we consider purchasing items to cook our food. If your kitchen is like mine its got appliances, cookware, and tools from all over the world; Kitchen Aid Stand Mixers from Ohio, Sanyo Microwaves from Japan, Forschner Knives from Switzerland. What a lot of people don’t realize is that they can purchase bread makers, toasters and toaster ovens, slow cookers, popcorn machines, griddles, rice cookers, coffee makers, and blenders from a company that makes them right here in southeastern Wisconsin.
This year West Bend Kitchen Appliances celebrates 100 years of making products in West Bend, Wisconsin and has been reaching out to bloggers to publicize their 100th anniversary and try out some of their products. Since they are a Wisconsin company I was more than happy to oblige. I tend to not want to do this kind of stuff for non-Wisconsin companies, unless they are sending me booze. They sent me their West Bend Platinum Edition Convection Toaster Oven to review.
This thing is quite attractive. Black and brushed aluminum, this would look great in any kitchen. In terms of functionality, the oven works great. Unlike an oven it heats up really fast and It will broil a piece of salmon in about 5 minutes and will have your frozen pizza done in the time it would take you to heat up an oven. It toasts evenly, and quickly and I haven’t found any faults with its operation. I haven’t had a chance to use the convection function on a large piece of meat yet but I’ll update this post when I do. I am hoping to roast a chicken in it this weekend.
I have two very minor complaints with this oven. First is the design of the oven. It brags that it can fit a 12 inch pizza, which it does with ease. The problem is that there is a large semi-circle bump protruding out the back (see above). I am sure I am not alone when I say that after I am done with an appliance, be it a coffee maker or a toaster, I like to push that item back against the counter back splash. The protruding back makes that a bit of an annoyance. The other complaint is the timer. I thought the convection fan was going to be loud but it was surprisingly quiet. So quiet that it is drowned out by the loud ticking of the timer. I kept expecting to hear “I’m Mike Wallace, I’m Morley Safer, I’m Ed Bradley, I’m Steve Kroft, I’m Lesley Stahl. Those stories and Andy Rooney, tonight on 60 Minutes. Like the bump on the back, its a minor complaint because the oven does work very well.
One of the great things is that Chicago Metallic (owned by the same parent company) has created a series of pans designed to fit right into this oven including a broiler pan, muffin pan, cake pans and loaf pans for meatloaf or bread. You can even channel your inner Elane Benes and get a muffin top pan. If you are sending a kid off to college this fall, this might be the perfect gift.
When I was doing some research on their website I noticed their West Bend Theater Popcorn Makers which I am considering for my basement. That gave me the perfect idea of where to put this oven, in my downstairs home theater/man cave. It will now become the place where I cook up stuff like mozzarella sticks, pizzas, pretzels, and other snacks for Packer Sundays and movie nights. Now if I could just get my hands on one of those West Bend Theater Popcorn Makers, I’d never have to leave the basement.
WIN ONE FOR YOURSELF!
Want to try the toaster oven for yourself? West Bend is allowing me to giveaway one of these these ovens. I tried to think of a contest that best represented EatWisconsin. I am not traditionally a recipe website and 90 percent of my output is restaurant reviews but I do like to celebrate Wisconsin products so here is the deal, post a comment below or send one to me on Twitter (@EatWisconsin) telling me what your ultimate Wisconsin Pizza would be. Not everything has to be local, but the majority of ingredients should be from Wisconsin (this includes any crops that can be grown here). On Friday, September 23, 2011 I’ll randomly select one winner to receive the West Bend Convection Toaster Oven.
MORE 100th ANNIVERSARY FUN
Don’t forget that on Sunday, September 25 from 11:00am – 4:00pm West Bend will hold a HUGE celebration at Washington County Fair Grounds. Its free and open to everyone. The event will include a giant “Sale of the Century” offering West Bend and other Focus Products Group items for up to 50% off retail prices. The Klement’s Famous Racing Sausages will also make an appearance. For more information on the 100th Anneversary party, check out pdf: http://www.westbendconnections.org/promos//WB100thAnn9-25.pdf
Later this week I’ll post a short interview I conducted with Mike Otterman, president of Focus Products Group (the parent company that owns West Bend Appliances).