If you're the type of person who enjoys spending time in the kitchen as much as I do, then you're all too familiar with using some gadget or another and redesigning it in your head to better suit your needs. Sometimes it's something you can do yourself, sometimes you have to go seek it out. And then there are those times when you see something and think, "Wait. Why didn't I think of that before?" Which is exactly what happened when I got the Magi-Lock pan and utensils in the mail from MagnetWare Products.
It seems like such a simple thing, yet I've never seen one before now. There are two magnets in the sleeve that slides over the handle of the pan, and there are two corresponding magnets in the handle of each utensil. Put them together, and you no longer have to deal with drippy messes, dried-on food, and potential illness from bacteria if you're not overly picky about cleaning your spoon rest before you cook again. Not only that, but you don't have to worry about your spoon falling into the pan, which almost always leads to burning yourself when you retrieve it (or at least that's how it works at my house).
So...does it work? Let's find out.
First, I have to admit I was a little put off by the packaging. The box had been cut down and reformed from a Home Depot box, and the handles of the pan and one of the utensils were sticking out through one corner. When I opened the box, I saw there wasn't actually any packaging, but rather everything had been enclosed in a plastic bag and the rest of the box filled with paper.
Included in the package was the pan, the sleeve, a slotted spoon, a slotted spatula, and a printout of the promotional flyer above.
The pan is a 10-inch skillet made of commercial grade aluminum alloy and featuring two layers of nonstick interior coating. It's labelled as professional cookware, and I believe it. I've not found one this heavy in a regular store.
The utensils are wood, and have obviously been drilled so the magnets can be inserted. The holes left have been filled with what appears to be some kind of epoxy, probably the same used to seal the wood.
Let's Get Cooking!
It wasn't immediately obvious which way the sleeve should go on the handle, and since the magnet that belongs on top sticks out, I first put it on upside down. The utensils promptly fell off. When I flipped it over, though, we were good to go.
Once I got the logistics figured out, it was time to cook. I chose to create a chicken stir-fry recipe to put the pan through its paces for my first test. This was easily my favourite part of the whole process, since I got to try out new kitchen gadgets and cook creatively at the same time.
The pan itself is excellent. Heavy-bottomed, nonstick aluminum, it was everything I wanted for stir-frying. I'm afraid the utensils left a bit to be desired, though, as did the magnet system. It's billed as being so simple you can do it with your eyes closed, but I couldn't manage it. The magnets in the handle of the utensils have to match up pretty closely to the magnets in the handle of the pan (and the utensils have to be right side up...more on that in a minute), or the utensils fall onto the stove rather than sticking. When they do mate, however, it's perfect.
A Chef's Confusion
My other issue is that both utensils are slotted. It would be nice if either the spoon was solid or if it came with both a slotted and regular spoon for foods I don't want to strain the liquid from to serve. It does appear that it is an option to get a solid spoon if you order a set, however.
The advantage to not having to use a spoon rest does have a very positive impact on my overall opinion of this cooking system. I am one of those people who always forgets to wipe my spoon rest out, so I end up soaking it for what seems like a year before I can wash it. The fact that the utensils drip into the pan instead of in a spoon rest or on the stove was wonderful for me.
A Satisfying Meal
Overall, the pan gets a five-star review from me. I've used it several times, both with the utensils it came with and with my own, and I love it. The utensils are maybe a two-star, but they do work well in their limited capacity. If you are a serious cook, you'll probably want to find another solution. But for the home cook who simply wants to avoid having to clean yet another surface after dinner, this would be perfect for you.
In doing further research, I've discovered that these are still primarily a concept at the moment (although the handles and utensils will be available this summer). They are currently seeking funding, and at the time of this review are still several thousand dollars from their goal. But if you want to check them out for yourself, product information can be found at MagnetWare Products. If you'd like to pledge some money to make these a reality, go to FundaGeek. Pledges range anywhere from $5.00 US to $1,500.00 US for various items ranging from a post card to a full set of pans, with about two months left until deadline.