In 2010, the Philips Electronics Co. introduced the first type of air fryer for family consumers.

In 2004, I was working for the Volusia County School Board and, during that year, I was asked to develop the procedures for air frying in all the schools. This would reduce the fat students were eating in comparison to the conventional deep-fat frying of French fries and breaded chicken products.

The convection oven that was developed in 1945 was an oven with a high-speed fan, which reduced cooking time by more than 50% because it moved the hot air around in the oven, heating and cooking the food products faster. It was not considered for air frying as it was not an issue at that time.

The combination oven came along in the '60s and was quickly adopted by many hotels because of its versatility. You could cook in it set as a convection oven, turn a switch and it would convert to a steamer, and finally a third switch would reheat food without over cooking.

In early 2000, I was testing ovens for the Volusia County Schools Food Service Division. The goal was to replace old equipment with more modern and energy-efficient ovens and to replace the old steamers use by the schools.

The combination oven was a perfect choice. It replaced the old convection ovens and steam cookers with one efficient, high-energy oven steamer combination. All the schools were updated with the new combination ovens.

At that time, we were not thinking of air frying. One day during a training session for kitchen staff I noticed the temperature of these new ovens could reach 500 degrees with the high-speed fan running. I placed some chicken tenders in the oven and cooked them for 10 minutes. They came out golden brown and tasted just like fried chicken.

I contacted the manufacturer of the ovens we were using and discussed air frying of product. They informed me they had tested the oven as well for air frying as schools were looking to stop deep frying products.

I proceeded to develop recipes, cooking times and temperatures for the different food products we served in the school district that would benefit from air frying. I also went to a local sheet metal company, Mr. Moody’s, and asked him to make stainless steel wired pan that fit our ovens so air would flow through and fry the product. It was very successful. The schools were able to reduce fat and serve healthier foods.

I never once thought that it would be a home appliance! I had all the technology and never used it.

Just think, I could be on TV right now with Chef Costa’s Air Fryer. Oh well, when it did come out in 2010, air fryers did not fly off the shelves either. It wasn’t until 2020 with Covid-19 affecting so many people that everyone became more health conscious, especially about food. Now almost every home has one or two air fryers.

I sometimes daydream …move over George Foreman Grill, here comes Chef Costa’s Air Fryer. By the way, no recipe this week, all the air fryers come with a cookbook. Enjoy!

Costa Magoulas is dean of the Mori Hosseini College of Hospitality and Culinary Management at Daytona State College. Contact him at (386) 506-3578 or costa_magoulas@daytonastate.edu.

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