Its elegant porcelain carapace has gleamed in British kitchens for decades, but few North Americans understand the genius of the AGA cooker. The new AGA Total Control, launched this past January, caters to New World novices.
Since 1929, some 750,000 families have had AGAs custom-built at the company’s 300-year-old foundry in Shropshire, England. Celebrated physicist Dr. Gustaf Dalén designed the original cooker for his wife. In the traditional AGA, a burner heats the two-to-four cast iron ovens and a temperature regulation system keeps each at a pre-set temperature 24 hours a day. There are large hot plates on top, and the individual ovens are constantly ready to roast, bake, simmer, and warm. An advantage of the AGA’s radiant heat is that it’s gentle and forgiving, a boon for parents perennially distracted by family life.
Since it was first invented, the AGA has been an oven-as-heirloom. For many families, the scuff where a toddler on a push bike bashed into the cooker simply adds value. “The older they are and the more scars they have on them, the more loved they are,” explains AGA marketing director Eileen Slattery. “This is an appliance that has a lot of emotional resonance for customers.”
In the new generation AGA Total Control, the cooker warms to the desired temp-
erature in only eight minutes (eliminating the need for it to be on continuously), and the three ovens can be used separately. A sleek touch-screen panel that can be accessed via remote control (and eventually a smart-phone app) brings the cooker into the modern age. Says Slattery, “This new, more flexible model is definitely more in tune with how people live today.”