Anova Precision Oven Q&A with #anovafoodnerd Kaido Mac
You can’t go on Reddit or Facebook without seeing Kaido Mac cooking up a storm with the Anova Precision Oven! Few have put the APO through the paces quite like Kaido has, and we caught up with him recently to let him tell his story and show how the Anova Precision Oven has changed his cooking routine for the better.
How would you describe your style of cooking?
I like to eat according to my macros & use a meal-prep system to help me meet my goals. I really like how much energy I get from the “if it fits your macros” aka IIFYM method, as well as the ability to control my weight precisely. My current approach is to meal-prep a single batch of food per day & then freeze it. This works out to just a small amount of effort on a daily basis, but yields big results over time!
My style of cooking is definitely something that developed over time. Growing up, my grandma was a great baker & we would make amazingly delicious desserts together every time she visited, which instilled a love of cooking in me at a young age. My mom later got me one of Todd Wilber’s fantastic “Top Secret Recipes” book for my birthday one year. It was a revelation that I could follow a recipe to get really amazing results, even though I didn’t really know what I was doing!
I cooked sporadically on my own after that, using what I call “fireworks motivation” to jump into the kitchen whenever a recipe caught my eye or the mood to cook struck. My struggle has always been a see-saw of motivation, which alternates between a strong interest in a particular recipe & being super motivated to try it, while at other times feeling like cooking is a huge chore & a real burden.
Later, when I moved out from home & had to provide for myself, I realized that I needed to figure out this whole cooking thing out in pretty short order, especially as I discovered how big of an impact it had on my meager budget at the time! Over the years, I developed a more structured meal-prep program, one which included enough flexibility to try new things at will, but was also strong enough to cover feeding myself & my family.
A big part of my meal preparation approach was the desire to get away from the old “what’s for dinner?” argument routine. You know…”what’s for dinner? What should we cook? What do we have? Should we just get takeout? But from where? What do you want from the menu?” I didn’t want this routine to govern my daily food story for the rest of my life! I now have a simple weekly meal-planning session with my family to help us have more consistent & better food options at home, which allows us to save money and be healthier & more energetic!
How does the Anova Precision Oven improve this?
A few years ago, they put up a “Save the Food” billboard near where I live, which had the startling statistic that 40% of all food in America is wasted, and that the average family of four could lose over $1,500 a year in food. As I dug more into statistics published by the government, I learned that the average family spends over $4,000 a year on food at home and over $3,000 a year on food away from home annually.
As I started tracking my food spending, I realized how much I could be saving by cooking at home & storing my leftover food using techniques like vacuum-sealing. As I got more tuned into optimizing my kitchen workflow, I started to look for more ways to make cooking more convenient, so that I would actually do the chore of cooking at home more often, as opposed to just getting some take-out on the way home from work.
Over the years, I dove into electric pressure cooking & immersion circulators to help me get better results more often & with less effort. The two things I was always looking for were automation & repeatable results: how could I set up cooking jobs so that I didn’t have to babysit them, and how could I get the results I wanted every single time?
It was then that I stumbled upon the Anova Precision Oven. I had previously worked in a pizza shop & currently have several clients in the food service field, so I had seen combi ovens before, but didn’t know the extent of their marvelous powers! It’s really a question of permutations: given the four elements (convection heating, steam control, probe monitoring, and multi-staging via the app), a huge variety of options suddenly became available – everything from doing bathless, bagless sous-viding, to doing faster sous-viding with the great “express” mode, to steam-injected baking, to dehydrating, and more!
After learning what a combi oven was & what it could do for me, I knew that I needed one & put myself on the pre-order list. Since it arrived, I’ve been using it every chance I get, from an 18-hour pork shoulder to a 20-minute cookie baking job. I’ve done airfrying, sous-viding, bread baking & keep learning new tips & tricks for using the machine all the time! There are so many options that it’s sort of like a choose-your-own-adventure book – there’s always a new recipe or mode to try!
Aside from automating the bulk of the job of cooking & being able to achieve perfect, repeatable results after I locked down a recipe, I would say the biggest improvement has been the convenience of just being able to use the machine without any fuss. I can stick food in, walk away, and let it do its things! The app alerts me when the next stage is ready as well as when it’s done. So it’s extremely approachable, because I can just put the food directly into the machine without any hassle, and it’s largely hands-off, because the oven takes care of managing the various cooking & baking jobs for me!
In the past, I’ve found that there is a strong sous-vide enthusiast community, coupled with a lot of great recipes on the Anova website, which has helped me stay plugged into actually using my appliances on a regular basis, as well as trying new things. I’ve already tried several of the 200+ Precision Oven recipes available & have learned a lot of new ways to do things, like cooking rice & pasta in the Precision Oven. It’s an incredibly versatile tool that can handle both a one-off meal, as well as cook enough food for a whole family, whether it’s air-fried frozen chicken nuggets or grilled cheese sandwiches or a half a dozen chicken breasts done sous-vide!
Any tips and tricks to share with the world about using the Oven?
The most fun I’ve had with the oven has been not having to use lids on containers. I have a fondness for jarred foods like yogurt, coddle egg & potato puree, and egg bites, especially for desserts like mini cheesecakes, creme brulees, pot de cremes, and so on. Being able to stick them straight in the Precision Oven has been wonderfully convenient!
I also use a lot of molds, such as mini bundt cakes, silicone Jello molds, chocolate molds, etc., which have been really fun to use to make eggs in various shapes. I have a couple different small square pans that make a perfect omelet-style egg loaf to fit on toast, which makes a nearly effortless breakfast sandwich that my family has requested over & over again!
How has the Oven changed how you cook at home?
The convenience of using the machine, coupled with getting precise, repeatable results, means that I do meal-prepping more often, especially because I don’t have to babysit the machine the whole time like I would with stovetop cooking. I cook for my family, as well as my elderly parents, & my brother, and being able to get home from work, plug the probe into say a pork tenderloin & stick it in the oven, and then go do something else is just really fantastic!
I do a lot of grilling & smoking as well; being able to sous-vide some burgers to throw on the grill, or sous-vide some chicken breast & steak and make kabobs, or sous-vide a pork shoulder to finish in the smoker to get a smokey crust is really great because I know I’m going to get perfect results every time without any guesswork!
Do you think it has made a difference in how you cook?
Absolutely! I’ve only had mine for about a month & I already cook more often at home far more than I normally do, which is going to save me a ton of money in the long-run from getting take-out when I’m not in the mood to cook, but still need a meal! I’ve also found myself trying more new things because of the convenience. For example, I recently made some sous-vide slider burgers in my metal measuring cups just because I could, and they turned out great!
What recipe in the app (not from you!) are you super interested in trying?
I’m looking forward to trying whole pies in the Anova Precision Oven over the holidays! I’ve experimented in the past with creative approaches to using a traditional water-bath to sous-vide to do odd-shaped items like pies, which involves freezing the dish ahead of time & using weights, but with the Precision Oven, it’s as convenient as sticking it in the oven! I’m also looking forward to working with the oven over the holidays to see what kind of neat recipes & techniques I can try out!
We just want to hear about your experience using the Oven!
I definitely think that combi ovens have a bright future. The Precision Oven in particular is an interesting combination of amazingly complex technology coupled with a delivery that’s as easy as opening the door, sticking a probe into your food, and using the app to get things going! Easier cooking? There’s an app for that!