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The 10 Coolest Kitchen Gadgets At Chicago's Housewares Show, Ranked

By Marielle Shaw in Arts & Entertainment on Mar 9, 2016 9:21PM

While much of Chicago was getting out of the house this weekend to enjoy the weather, we headed for McCormick Place to explore the wide world of housewares at the International Home + Housewares Show. Friday through Tuesday, over 2,100 exhibitors from around the world filled five halls with the latest in gadgets, storage, appliances, kitchenware and more. It's one of the four biggest events at McCormick Place, and it's a lot of ground to cover, so we've narrowed it down to the top ten most interesting and innovative ideas we saw on the show floor.

Photo via KitchenAid

10. KitchenAid's Mini Stand Mixer

KitchenAid has the food blog world buzzing with the introduction of its 3-quart mini stand mixer. It's lighter and shorter for those people who don't have a lot of countertop real estate, but its motor is the same as its larger siblings, and it works with regular KitchenAid attachments. Its suggested MSRP is not far below its big brother, but less can certainly be more for those with cramped kitchens.

Photo via CorningWare

9. CorningWare's New Stoneware Line

Simple but brilliant was also the theme with CorningWare's new line for 2016, which featured a beautiful muted palette for its successful stoneware products that now includes specially designed lids. This means a dish can be baked, served attractively, and put away in the same dish, which makes after-dinner cleanup mercifully easy.

Photo by Marielle Shaw/Chicagoist

8. Victorinox's Line Of BBQ Knives

Victorinox knives have long been a staple in the foodservice world, known for quality and value as well as safety. For 2016, they're forging a new path in the world of Competition BBQ, with a complete line of knives for your next cookout. Ranging from paring knives to Granton blade slicers, they all feature the slip-resistant Fibrox handles kitchen staff have come to love.

Photo via Libbey's

7. Libbey's Glassware

Libbey, meanwhile, has had their sights set on the home bar scene, and their high-end glassware's beautiful craftsmanship, shapes, and glittering teardrop accents drew immediate comparisons to some of Germany's finest stems. We especially loved the elegance of their Kentfield Balloon and the deeper, more refined martini glass.

Photo by Marielle Shaw/Chicagoist

6. Maggiso's Improvement On The Saltshaker

Magisso, a Finnish company whose self-cooling tumblers wowed us last year, not only returned with plates and bowls that used the same technology, but also with one of the simplest and smartest ideas on the show floor: an easily regulated glass container which can be used for salt, pepper, or oils. Working with a simple gasket, you can squeeze the top wide open for a heavy pour, or just barely open for a pinch. It's not reinventing the wheel, but it did make us ask why no one else seemed to have thought of it, or for that matter, made it that sleek and elegant.

Photo by Marielle Shaw/Chicagoist

5. NoStik's No-Stick Oven Shelves And Liners

NoStik is a brand just making its way to the USA, and their idea, too, is simple: Help people keep their ovens clean. They've created foldable, non-stick shelves and liners that can be put in the bottom of your oven to keep all of the spillovers from pies, pizzas and the like from becoming cemented to your oven floor. Unlike a lot of their counterparts, NoStik's entire line can withstand 550 degree heat, which means even though you can take it out if necessary, you won't need to even if high temperature baking.

Photo by Marielle Shaw/Chicagoist

4. Marcato's Pasta Drying Rack

Marcato, an Italian company specializing in pasta machinery and its various accoutrements, impressed with its beautiful yet functional pasta drying rack. If you're an advanced at home cook who wants to impress, this rack looks like a sculpture while providing plenty of space to dry all your handmade wonders.

Photo by Marielle Shaw/Chicagoist

3. Coolgear's Cold-Brew, Pour-Over Coffeemaker

We like coffee, and even though we're not terribly patient about getting it, we had to investigate the Coolgear Bru, a cold brew, pour over coffee system that promises to cut back on the bitter and bring out the best in your coffee. We're already in love with our AeroPress, so it was a hard sell, but the Coolgear team was up to the challenge, even suggesting starting the brew at night over their travel mug so you wake up to a ready-to-drink cup. We had to admit that our test cup was silky smooth and had a great finish, so this is something we're considering adding to our coffee gear.

Photo by Marielle Shaw/Chicagoist

2. Tovolo's Cocktail Shaker With A Built-In Reamer

When we're behind the bar, we like fresh, whole ingredients, which means our favorite margarita involves a lot of juicing. So we were jazzed to see Tovolo add a reamer to a sleek stainless shaker, making it that much easier to get the margarita we want without the dishes we don’t.

Photo via Molecule-R

1. Molecule-R's Molecular Gastronomy Kits

Our final favorite was a geek-out moment, of sorts. We love kitchen technology, and it seems there's less and less that's out of reach for the home chef, with the advent of smoking guns and sous-vide circulators for the masses. Molecule-R is hoping to do the same for molecular gastronomy, creating a vast array of kits starting around 20 dollars and going up to 149 that allow consumers to explore a world of new textures and presentations for foods they already know and love.