When Anyday founder Steph Chen set out to develop a new line of kitchenware, microwave cookware was not on her radar.
Initially, she said the goal was to create a line of food storage that would feature a glass container and glass lid. But in early testing, she quickly realized the product she was developing was able to cook chicken that was “juicy and tender” when used in a microwave.
“I first thought ‘this is crazy,’” said Chen. “It took only about 10 to 15 minutes to perfectly cook a small whole chicken in the microwave.”
While a line of cookware may not have been in her plans, it’s not completely surprising that Chen and Anyday are in the cookware category. Chen’s father, Stanley Cheng, founded Meyer Corp., the nation’s largest supplier of cookware. The company today sells products under several brands including Anolon, Circulon, Farberware and Rachael Ray.
After completing a prolonged period of online research — something Chen labeled as going down an Internet rabbit hole — she came to the realization that a number of top chefs are proponents of using the microwave as part of meal preparation.
With well-known culinarians including Rick Bayless, David Chang and New York Times food critic Mark Bittman serving as inspiration, Chen decided to move ahead with the product line but position the collection as microwave cookware and not food storage.
So why does Anyday’s cookware work so well in a microwave?
“From day one we knew we didn’t want to make the product of plastic. The bowl and lid are both made of glass,” said Chen. “We also made sure that the lid was equipped with a vent that would allow enough steam to escape to keep it from popping off, but also hold enough steam inside so the food being cooked would not be too dry.”
While happy with the cookware’s overall performance, Chen did note that food will not crisp when prepared in the microwave. She suggests using the microwave and Anyday’s cookware to par-cook food and then transferring to a broiler to finish and obtain a crisp exterior.
As the line rolls out, consumer education will also be key. While the microwave has been a fixture in the kitchens of Americans, the appliance has long been viewed as a tool to reheat and defrost food or to make popcorn.
Chen said Anyday will be working to create content focused on using the microwave as cooking tool while also developing recipes that conusmers can use in their homes.
“We know it’s important to show people that it is possible to cook with their microwave,” she added.
Initially, Anyday’s line of microwave cookware will be available for purchase via the company’s website. In terms of distribution at retail, Chen said that remains to be determined, but added she is looking to partner with those that will be able to tell the story of using the product to cook in a microwave.