Posted on Aug 3, 2013

GE MONOGRAM DESIGNER SESSION IN LOUISVILLE

Surprises are always fun, but it was especially exciting when our local Ferguson appliances dealer extended an invitation to attend the GE Monogram Experience in Louisville, Kentucky. Luckily, we got to pack our bags and head back east- and boy were we in for a treat! It was an amazing week of learning, cooking and wonderful people. GE continually proved to be a great American company with a thoughtful design process.

We arrived Monday evening and settled into our rooms at The Brown Hotel. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, The Brown is located downtown on Fourth Street and showcases beautiful architecture in stunning English Renaissance style, making her one of the finest hotels of the South. We gathered for cocktails downstairs and met our fellow designers as well as a few of GE’s lead managers and designers. They hosted a private dinner for us in the Brown Hotel kitchen with Chef Laurent, who let us in on a little secret- Louisville is the hub for UPS so he can get fresh New Zealand fish in two days! With his incredible, worldwide experience, it’s needless to say that our menu was unbelievable. Five courses later, we were beyond full and everyone felt like old friends!

Although we were there for a Designer Session, GE made sure we got to experience all of the history and fun of Louisville. We started early Tuesday morning with a tour of the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft. Thanks to GE’s generosity, we all came home with a treat too! Just across the street was the 21C Museum Hotel, an art gallery/ boutique hotel. In front of 21C stands a 30′ tall golden statue of David (inspired by Michelangelo)commissioned by 21C in 2011 by artist Serkan Ozkaya. Just down the street is the famed Louisville Slugger Museum, which boasts a 120′ tall bat outside the Museum weighing 68,000 pounds and is home to the factory that continues to make the Official Bat of Major League Baseball.

We headed to the MEC (Monogram Experience Center) for refrigeration training and immediately fell in love with the new Monogram 30″ Fully Integrated Customizable Refrigerator. With a dual-refrigeration system, it provides precise and customizable climate control with three independent temperature-management zones- the top for refrigeration, the middle for an ice maker and freezer compartment, and the bottom which converts between refrigeration, freezer, or wine and beverage storage. Beautifully lit with side LED lighting, it is attractive and energy efficient, while the adjustable shelving, soft-close drawers and availability in stainless steel, glass door, or fully customizable panels made for one happy group of designers!

Not only did we get to learn about all of GE’s amazing kitchen appliances, we actually got to cook on them as well! The Kitchen Design Center held six full kitchens and GE has two amazing Chefs on staff. They had one kitchen and the rest of us were split into five kitchen groups. Each kitchen has two under-cabinet refrigeration drawers, a sink, a 48″ Pro Range, a 30″ Advantium Speed Cooker, a 30″ Wall Oven, an Induction cook-top and all of the pots, pans and accessories needed.  To get our feet wet with their product, we were making ourselves lunch… with their expertise of course! {Find and follow all of Chef Joe and Brian’s recipes and blog too!} A potato frittata and salad later, we were headed back to the training center.

Next up was the Sound Lab tour- we got to meet the engineers that listen to and calculate how much sound each product produces, where it’s coming from, and how to make it quieter. We even got to test it ourselves! From there, we got the full spectrum and breakdown of each kitchen appliance product series that GE makes, including GE, ProfileArtistryCafe and Monogram. We also saw the brand new Slate finish- a beautiful, warm alternative to stainless steel- it even resists pesky fingerprints!

GE is extremely consumer-oriented and thoughtful in their design process. So much so, that we were part of a feedback session for a brand new product- talk about fun! As designers, we gave aesthetic and functional feedback that we see ourselves and hear from clients, making for a great afternoon collaboration. They topped the evening off with a Chef’s dinner for us- we were definitely loving all of the fantastic food!

We were rockin’ and rollin’ bright and early Wednesday morning as we headed to the kitchens to make our breakfast. We got our first taste of the Advantium and fell in love! A genius combination of a speedcook oven, true European convection oven, sensor microwave oven, and warming oven- it delivers oven-quality results up to eight times faster than conventional cooking methods with no preheating. Impressive! With over 175 pre-programmed settings, the Advantium is large enough for a 9″ x 13″ casserole dish to rotate on a 16″ turntable. We cooked four-full-size potatoes in 11-minutes, steaks in 8-minutes, a pizza in 7-minutes and grilled cheese sandwiches in 4-minutes- all to perfection! If that’s enough, a 4-lb roasted chicken takes 25 minutes compared to almost 2-hours typically… and a 9″ x 13″ lasagna takes only 25-minutes. It was by far our favorite product!

Next up was the Industrial Design Tour. We walked through kitchen mock ups of every product series and had input on new concept ideas, from refrigerators to ranges and wall ovens. Then it was back to the kitchen to make lunch- we never went hungry!

After that, it was time for the 48″ Professional Range breakdown- the Monogram 4-burner with griddle and grill. We learned how the six wheels make installation a breeze and how it’s the only Professional Range that has three full-sliding oven racks that can accommodate three caterer’s sheet trays in the large oven. It is even designed so the sliding racks can remain in the oven during the self-clean cycle. It is also the only Pro Range to include all of the following: two broil pans, toe-kick, temperature probes, grill and griddle covers, bamboo cutting board, wok grates, roasting rack, power cord, anti-tip, island trim, and three full-extension racks. The small oven contains two fully extendable racks and is considered the everyday oven because it easily fits a 9″ x 13″ dish. It’s beautiful design and ease of use makes it easy to love and put it on the wishlist!

Induction cooktops were our next activity. We saw firsthand how the heat is detected and travels only through the pan and not through the entire burner- meaning that the boiling pan sitting on half of the burner didn’t burn our hand on the other half! It’s efficiency is reflected in the fact that it brings water to a boiling point approximately eight-times faster than any gas burner, and maintains the exact temperature that you set it at without having a delay like you would with an electric burner.

Later that night, GE hosted a dinner for us at nearby restaurant, Marketplace. We met a few more GE leaders and enjoyed more delicious food. Truly a great evening of fun to wrap up the day!

Thursday morning started early with a behind-the-scenes tour of Building 3, Home to the GE Dishwasher factory. Every piece of a GE dishwasher is now made in this plant, including the new stainless steel dishwasher, as part of GE’s complete product retool to bring jobs and manufacturing back to America- something we absolutely love!

Then we headed into the kitchens for the official Chopped Competition. We had 50-minutes to make whatever we wanted as a kitchen and have it plated to our Chef judges. They revealed our secret ingredient as the time started ticking and we got hustling! Even though it was only 9am, we decided to make a favorite dinner recipe – double fried chicken with a honey garlic soy sauce over potato pancakes, along side a vinaigrette salad with bacon, asparagus and our secret ingredient, corn. After a hectic 50-minutes, we presented our entrees and proceeded to eat “breakfast.” We wrapped up the morning and our Chefs crowned our kitchen as the Champions!

Before we knew it, it was time to head home. With new friends and new favorite products, we said our goodbyes and parted ways. A special thanks to all GE employees who made us feel right at home and like longtime friends- your hospitality and generosity was above and beyond!

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