Hestan Cue Smart System review: more educational than geeky


I’m what you might call a cooking geek. I often cooked the same dish in different ways for the tour and organized a blind tasting to find out the best way to make a dish successful. I once tweaked a recipe for weeks so I could make fried chicken for 50 people. I dissect dozens of recipes before deciding how to make a meal for the first time. I have in my head a real Excel file with the sous vide temperature and cooking time for dozens of cuts of meat. And when I have to choose between an easy recipe or one that takes three days, I always go for the longer one.

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When I first heard about the Hestan Cue Smart System, which includes smart pans that can hold the temperature to a precise degree, I knew right away that I had to give it a try.

How it works


Screenshots: Maxime Johnson.

The Hestan Cue mobile app.

The Hestan Cue Smart System is a system containing an induction hob, connected pans and pots and a Bluetooth thermometer. Each device can be purchased separately, but there are also different sets. For this trial, I tested the plate, the thermometer, a non-stick pan and a pan for the sauces.

The Hestan Cue app brings together hundreds of recipes. These are varied, and it is possible to look for them according to the equipment that one has. The recipes are displayed step by step, usually with video instructions, and guide us through the entire cooking process.

A salmon fillet recipe, for example, automatically heats the pan to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. The value is measured using a probe in the pan itself, and a three-way dialogue between the plate, the telephone and the pan keeps the temperature constant. The app then invites us to place the fillets skin side down in an oil base. A minute later, the fish is turned and the temperature automatically decreases to 400 degrees. After a few minutes spent drizzling the salmon with an oil flavored with garlic and thyme (the duration of this step varies according to the size of the fillets, which you enter beforehand in the application), the dish is ready .

The Hestan Cue mobile app guides the home cook step by step.

Photo: Maxime Johnson.

The Hestan Cue mobile app guides the home cook step by step.

The end result (without its charred accompaniments).

Photo: Maxime Johnson.

The end result (without its charred accompaniments).

The result was superb: crispy skin to perfection, and flesh just right. It looked like restaurant cooking. And anyone would have been able to pull off this salmon just as well. Unfortunately, my old-fashioned stovetop vegetables were completely burnt, but Hestan had nothing to do with those.

If you have the thermometer connected, it is also possible to measure the temperature of a liquid, and to adjust the plate accordingly. It’s handy for cooking food sous vide in a cauldron of water at a precise temperature (I made two legs of lamb like this), for cooking sweets (I made excellent caramel flakes at fleur de sel) and for frying food (I’m still thinking about my donuts from last weekend).

Note that it is not necessary to follow recipes to use the Hestan Cue, since a mode of the application allows manual cooking (you must indicate the type of cooking, the device used, then the desired temperature) . The hob can also be adjusted manually, without a phone, like a regular hob.

What is successful

If you ever lose your phone, you can still use the hob.

Photo: Maxime Johnson.

If you ever lose your phone, you can still use the hob.

I have many good words to say about the Hestan Cue system. On the material side, especially, the stoves are of excellent quality (Hestan still sells its non-connected copper cookware for $2400, so it’s not very surprising either). They are heavy, dishwasher safe and can be used on the stovetop.

The induction hob works with any pan or saucepan compatible with induction cooking (pretty much anything that is not aluminum). This is perfect for turning a Creuset into a deep fryer or slow cooker, for example.

The recipes are also well chosen. Pancakes, omelettes, steak, bacon, scallops, mushrooms, green beans, paella: the list is varied and appetizing. The level of difficulty is generally medium, with recipes that are not overly simplified (those who swear by Ricardo will also take it for their cold). The application interface is also inviting, and makes you want to browse recipes for inspiration.

The Hestan Cue connected thermometer turns a Dutch oven into a real outdoor fryer.

Photo: Maxime Johnson.

The Hestan Cue connected thermometer turns a Dutch oven into a real outdoor fryer.

Technically, I was particularly impressed with the use of the frying thermometer. Even outside in the middle of winter, the system maintains a fairly constant temperature, and recovers its heat quickly after adding food. The Hestan Cue is also much more effective on this point than my usual deep fryer (a T-fal that I hate to the core of my being).

I also like the modular aspect of the system. Hestan can thus add new accessories from time to time (the thermometer, for example, is a recent addition) and make the Cue Smart System more complete. The platform is also compatible with other appliances, such as GE stoves (there is no need to buy the induction hob).

What should be improved

The Hestan Cue offers a manual mode, but it should still do more for geeks.

Photo: Maxime Johnson.

The Hestan Cue offers a manual mode, but it should still do more for geeks.

Unfortunately, the system seems to me better suited for budding cooks who want to be held by the hand than for regulars who are looking for one more tool to increase their precision in the kitchen.

When browsing recipes, for example, I can’t see in advance what temperatures will be used, or change those settings. I also can’t create my own recipes or upload those of others. This is a missed opportunity for Hestan Cue, which could easily build a community around the device (as seen with sous vide cooking or beer brewing gadgets, for example). According to the company, these features should fortunately be added over time. But as Kévin Parent so aptly puts it, “to believe, you have to see”.

On the hardware side, I also have some problems. I would have first appreciated a magnetic mechanism for the electric wire of the plate. I would indeed like to use the Hestan Cue to make a Burgundy fondue (all tastes are in nature), but the risk of getting caught in the wire and dropping a cauldron of boiling oil on his guests seems too big to me. Shame.

If one day the Hestan Cue mobile app stops working, the screenless thermometer will no longer be of any use.

Photo: Maxime Johnson.

If one day the Hestan Cue mobile app stops working, the screenless thermometer will no longer be of any use.

I was also a bit disappointed with the accuracy of the system in vacuum mode. For fear of exceeding the desired temperature, the Hestan Cue takes forever to reach it. I have also observed the same phenomenon for making sweets. Another detail, I would have liked the temperature to be displayed directly on the probe, which would have been more practical for longer term use.

Finally, I would like it to be possible to use both thermometers at the same time. To cook a steak, for example, I would like to be able to control the temperature in the pan, and adjust it according to the internal temperature of the room.

Some of the devices in the Hestan Cue system.

Photo: Maxime Johnson.

Some of the devices in the Hestan Cue system.

Hestan has in his hands a technology with a lot of potential, but which does not revolutionize the kitchen either.

The cooking system is already a good device to guide amateur cooks today. It is, however, quite expensive (around $250 per item purchased separately, and around $200 per item purchased as a set), and I’m not convinced that the target audience – who need guidance in cooking – are ready to invest as much for cookware (there are obviously exceptions, as evidenced by the popularity of Thermomix).

Geeky or simply passionate cooks are ready to invest as much, but the application and the ecosystem will still require some adjustments to meet their needs. The good news is that all the elements are there to do it.

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