February 1, 2011
Would you pay $89 for a kitchen thermometer?

By Blair Anthony Robertson, Bee Restaurant Critic

I just got off the phone with the product rep from Utah-based Thermoworks, makers of a high-end instant-read thermometer called the Thermapen. Cook's Illustrated raves about this gadget, as do many others. When I recently spoke with Harold McGee ("On Food and Cooking") and asked him about his favorite kitchen gadgets, he immediately weighed in on the wonders of the Thermapen. Emeril Lagasse? Alton Brown? They're fans, too.

The standard instant-read gadget costs $12 to $25, and "instant" in many cases should be taken with a grain of salt. It should probably say "eventual."

In the days ahead, I will be putting this highly touted and very speedy device through the paces in the test kitchen. We'll try to determine if it's worth $89 and who should consider getting one. Beyond that, we'll be preparing a story on the importance of understanding temperature during the cooking process.

Apparently, there's not much understanding going on. Thermapen's makers recently did man-on-the-street style interviews at the Sundance Film Festival, asking folks how they determine if the meat they are cooking is done. They couldn't find anyone who uses an instant-read thermometer, let alone an $89 one.

I'm looking forward to seeing if the Thermapen lives up to all of the raves.

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