Kitchen: Western University grad tops Kickstarter with app-operated slow cooker

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A Western University grad is enjoying a huge wave of crowdfunding support for a gadget that can cook a gourmet meal remotely with a smartphone app.

Rayner Mendes is co-founder of a company that developed the Nise Wave Sous Vide and has raised about $214,000 on Kickstarter to get the device launched on the market.

Sous vide (French for under vacuum) is a heating device that slow-cooks food contained in a sealed plastic bag in a vessel of water kept at a precise temperature.

“It’s an easy, accessible way for the average person to make a great meal without sacrificing a lot of time or having a lot of experience,” said Mendes.

You may not have heard of the sous vide, but you likely have eaten meals made with the device. They have been used by gourmet chefs and high-end restaurants for decades because it leaves food moist and evenly cooked.

Rayner said the Nise Wave Sous Vide is an innovation because at about $200, it is cheap enough for home use and can be controlled through a smartphone app, allowing busy people to prepare a meal at home while they are on the go.

Mendes said the concept is not unlike the traditional slow cooker or crockpot but with the precision of 21st-century WiFi technology that allows for the unexpected, such as getting stuck in a traffic jam.

“The algorithms will figure out how to adjust the temperature over time to get perfect results,” he said.

Mendes, 24, graduated from Western last year with chemistry and business degrees. He then earned a fellowship that allowed him to work for six months in China, where he came up with the idea for Nise Wave Sous Vide with Grant Hu, a recent University of Toronto graduate.

During the next year they developed and perfected the device and were joined by Wilfrid Laurier University grad Dorian Wilson.

The trio launched a Kickstarter campaign at in late June hoping to raise $35,000 to launch the manufacturing process. It has already raised more than $214,000, from 1,360 backers, making it the top active Kickstarter campaign in Canada.

Kickstarter contributors of more than $125 will get a one-third discount off the price once the device becomes available.

The Nise WaveSous Vide app comes with pre-programmed recipes for meals of steak, chicken, salmon and vegetables.

Some foods, such as steak, have to finish up with quick sear to the outside.

Mendes, now based in Mississauga, said the device will initially be sold online but may appear in retail outlets in the future.

In the future the company plans to develop ready-made meal packs with recipes that can be scanned with a phone and popped into the sous vide for automatic cooking.

Mendes said there are rival products on the market, but he said the Nise Wave offers the most convenience at the lowest price.

“No one matches our technology at our price point,” said Mendes.

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