This $279 'Keurig for food' will replace every cooking appliance you own

A futuristic new kitchen appliance that’s being called the “Keurig for food” could forever change home cooking.

Called Tovala, the countertop machine is a broiler, steamer, oven, microwave, and toaster in one.

It’s meant to replace all major cooking appliances and eliminate most of the work involved in making healthy meals.

The Tovala is launching on Kickstarter Tuesday at an “early-bird” price of $199 for a limited number of machines.

The price of the machine will eventually increase to up to $279, Tovala founder David Rabie told Business Insider. The machines will start shipping out before the end of the year.

“Our goal is to sit on every countertop in America and bring fresh food to everyone,” Rabie said in an interview.

Rabie recently stopped by Business Insider’s office to show us how the machine works.

The Tovala cooks pods of ingredients, including fish, chicken, pasta, vegetables, popcorn, and oatmeal, and it even poaches eggs.

Tovala

Users can create their own recipes, or they can subscribe to get fresh, chef-designed meals delivered to them weekly that are specifically developed for the machine.

Courtney Verrill

Tovala's meal delivery is similar to services like Blue Apron and Plated, which deliver groceries and accompanying recipes to customers.

Courtney Verrill

But unlike those services, Tovala's meals require no prep work.

Courtney Verrill

The food arrives pre-seasoned and ready to be cooked inside foil pods.

Courtney Verrill

To use the machine, you remove the lids from the pods and place them inside the device.

Courtney Verrill

Then you scan a barcode on the packaging with a phone.

Courtney Verrill

The Tovala will communicate with the phone and find the recipe for the food.

Tovala

That's when the cooking process begins.

Courtney Verrill

The cooking technology differs depending on the meal. In the case of one of the company's roasted chicken recipes, the Tovala will steam the food for about 12 minutes, then switch to broil mode for five minutes to crisp everything.

Courtney Verrill

We tried baking cookies and cooking three meals: a Miso baked Chilean sea bass with a side of broccoli, stuffed chicken and steamed asparagus, and chicken posole stew.

Courtney Verrill

First, we tried the sea bass. The fish was 'shockingly good' according to our reviewers and 'could have passed for something you would order in a restaurant.' The broccoli was steamed perfectly -- not too mushy (overcooked) or hard (undercooked).

Courtney Verrill

Next on the menu was a chicken breast stuffed with mushrooms, spinach, and cheese, with a side of roasted asparagus.

Courtney Verrill

The stuffed chicken was 'just OK' but the side of asparagus -- which was served with a basil and parmesan pesto -- was a crowd favourite.

Courtney Verrill

The chicken posole stew was delicious, and it was everyone's favourite dish.

Courtney Verrill

Tortilla chips and yogurt crema came with the dish as garnishes. We were instructed to add those ingredients after the stew was finished cooking.

Courtney Verrill

'The fresh avocado, tortilla chips, and yogurt crema made the dish feel elevated and fresh,' said Business Insider retail editor Ashley Lutz. 'It was the furthest thing from the 'aeroplane food' we expected.'

Courtney Verrill

The Tovala is targeting people who want to eat healthy but don't have the time to cook -- which is a rapidly growing demographic. The company could initially face some hurdles, however, in getting consumers to pay for the initial cost of the machine and helping them understand the technology behind it. When we described the concept to people who had never heard of it, many thought it sounded like a glorified microwave that cooks Lean-Cuisine-style meals.

Courtney Verrill

But it's nothing like that, says Rabie. 'The machine's cooking technology has been used in really high-end commercial kitchens,' Rabie explains. 'We're bringing that to consumers at an affordable price.'

Courtney Verrill

The food is fresh -- never frozen -- and it will be sourced locally and organically whenever possible, Rabie says. The company has hired experienced chefs, including some Michelin-starred chefs, to develop Tovala's recipes.

Courtney Verrill

The Tovala will also give consumers the option to submit their own recipes to its app.

Courtney Verrill

If the company decides to produce and distribute a user-submitted recipe, it will pay royalties to the person who created it. Rabie is hoping this encourages the growth of a passionate online community around the Tovala.

Tovala

The company has more than $600,000 in funding from Chicago-based Origin Ventures and Mountain View, California-based Y Combinator, and several other firms. The machine won the University of Chicago's annual New Venture Challenge last spring.

Courtney Verrill

Overall, we were impressed with the Tovala. The taste and quality of the food was surprisingly good. Every dish tasted like a gourmet, home-cooked meal, but without any hassle or effort.

Tovala

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