New York…by Staff Reporters…A recent announcement by General Electric that it has installed a “Shabbos mode” feature on hundreds of its popular cooking appliances, including wall ovens and electric drop-in ranges, is the latest development in the increased role of technology in the kosher kitchen. Like many other kosher innovations that are driven by technology, the new ranges are certified kosher by Baltimore-based Star-K Kosher Certification. The Shabbos mode can be utilized by those wishing to keep kosher or avoided by the non-Jewish customer. In a press release, GE said it was “the voice of Jewish consumers” that led company engineers to develop this feature. Ranges, which are usually equipped with a 12-hour shut-off feature for safety purposes, will have a Shabbos mode feature in which the 12-hour override does not occur, allowing food to be warmed continuously throughout Shabbos. Tones and timer sounds will be eliminated, as will display icons to permit temperature adjustments on yomim tovim. “With today’s advanced technology, and the ‘bells and whistles’ which are now standard features in almost every appliance on the market, it is difficult for Sabbath observers to be able to use their appliances in a halachically correct manner without the Sabbath mode,” notes STAR-K president, Avrom Pollak. “Although features such as door alarms on freezers are thought of as a bonus for the consumer, they are an annoyance for the Sabbath observer.”
Culinary Depot, located in Monsey NY, is a commercial kitchen equipment company that has worked with some of the leading kitchen equipment manufacturers to create a line of Shabbos-ready kitchen appliances for caterers, restaurants, synagogues, nursing homes, and other facilities where commercial-grade equipment is needed. Avi Fried, an online representative of the store, says “We’ve done a lot of business with major appliance manufactures, and we’ve noticed that there’s been a need for Shabbos-friendly kitchen equipment for kosher caterers, nursing homes, and hospitals.” Culinary Depot offers these facilities items like a Shabbos convection oven by Vulcan that has a standing pilot, and does not turn off lights or fans when the door is opened or closed and a Shabbos refrigerator/freezer made by Traulsen that has an LED display that can be turned off prior to Shabbos so as not to change the temperature numbers when opening the refrigerator or freezer door to remove an item. Fried said that the Culinary Depot shipped 20 of the Shabbos-friendly convection ovens to Uman in the Ukraine, and has shipped some to Pesach programs in exotic locations like Cancun. They’ve shipped equipment to Israel, Australia, and South Africa, though most of the orders come from across the United States.