Title:
TWO TIER ELEVATED BAKING RACK
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A multiple-tier baking oven rack may include a top tier and a bottom tier lying substantially parallel to the top tier and a support base on which the bottom tier is supported. The bottom tier may be elevated with respect to the support base and the top tier may be elevated with respect to the bottom tier. The bottom tier and the top tier may form a space therebetween to facilitate a flow of air across the bottom tier and the top tier between the opposing sidewalls of an oven in which the multiple-tier baking oven rack is usable.



Inventors:
Linton, Joshua (Chicago, IL, US)
Madden, Sheena M. (Chicago, IL, US)
Application Number:
13/368530
Publication Date:
05/16/2013
Filing Date:
02/08/2012
Assignee:
ILLINOIS TOOL WORKS INC. (Glenview, IL, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
126/337R, 219/762
International Classes:
F24C15/16; F24C7/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
VAN, QUANG T
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Burr & Forman LLP (Charlotte, NC, US)
Claims:
That which is claimed:

1. An multiple-tier baking oven rack comprising: a top tier; and a bottom tier lying substantially parallel to the top tier and a metallic support base on which the bottom tier is supported, the bottom tier being elevated with respect to the support base and the top tier being elevated with respect to the bottom tier, the bottom tier and the top tier defining a space therebetween to facilitate a flow of air across the bottom tier and the top tier between the opposing sidewalls of an oven in which the multiple-tier baking oven rack is usable.

2. The oven rack of claim 1, wherein the bottom tier and the top tier are each rectangular shaped baking racks of substantially a same size.

3. The oven rack of claim 1, wherein the bottom tier and the top tier are separated by a distance substantially equal to a distance between the bottom tier and a baking pan forming the support base.

4. The oven rack of claim 3, wherein the bottom tier comprises feet disposed to extend away from the top tier, and wherein a C-shaped bracket supports the top tier relative to the bottom tier.

5. The oven rack of claim 1, wherein the top tier is cantilevered with respect to the bottom tier.

6. The oven rack of claim 1, wherein the top tier and the bottom tier are separated from each other via a support structure disposed at each of the respective corners thereof.

7. The oven rack of claim 1, wherein side portions between the top tier and the bottom tier are open to airflow from airflow slots on one sidewall of the oven passing to an opposing sidewall of the oven over substantially an entirety of a space between the top tier and the bottom tier.

8. The oven rack of claim 1, wherein the oven employs radio frequency cooking in addition to the provision of airflow.

9. The oven rack of claim 1, wherein the top tier and the bottom tier each include a wire mesh grate supported by a frame structure extending around a periphery thereof.

10. The oven rack of claim 1, wherein the top tier and the bottom tier comprise aluminum or stainless steel components.

11. An oven comprising: a cooking chamber configured to receive a food product; one or more rack supports disposed along opposing sidewalls of the cooking chamber to support a metallic support base inserted therein; and a multiple-tier elevated baking rack providing at least a bottom tier and a top tier lying substantially parallel to each other and to the support base, the bottom tier being elevated with respect to the support base and the top tier being elevated with respect to the bottom tier, the bottom tier and the top tier defining a space therebetween to facilitate a flow of air across the bottom tier and the top tier between the opposing sidewalls of an oven in which the multiple-tier baking oven rack is usable.

12. The oven of claim 11, wherein the bottom tier and the top tier are each rectangular shaped baking racks of substantially a same size.

13. The oven of claim 11, wherein the bottom tier and the top tier are separated by a distance substantially equal to a distance between the bottom tier and a baking pan forming the support base.

14. The oven of claim 13, wherein the bottom tier comprises feet disposed to extend away from the top tier, and wherein a C-shaped bracket supports the top tier relative to the bottom tier.

15. The oven of claim 11, wherein the top tier is cantilevered with respect to the bottom tier.

16. The oven of claim 11, wherein the multiple-tier elevated baking rack comprises at least a first assembly and a second assembly stacked with respect to each other, the first and second assemblies each comprising an assembly top tier and an assembly bottom tier, each assembly bottom tier comprising legs, the legs of the assembly bottom tier of the first assembly contacting the support base, and the legs of the assembly bottom tier of the second assembly contacting the assembly top tier of the first assembly.

17. The oven of claim 11, wherein the oven comprises airflow slots disposed proximate to the rack supports, and wherein side portions between the top tier and the bottom tier are open to airflow from airflow slots on one sidewall of the oven passing to the other sidewall of the oven over substantially an entirety of a space between the top tier and the bottom tier.

18. The oven of claim 11, wherein the oven employs radio frequency cooking in addition to the provision of airflow.

19. The oven of claim 11, wherein the top tier and the bottom tier each include a wire mesh grate supported by a frame structure extending around a periphery thereof.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/560,413, filed Nov. 16, 2011, the contents of which are incorporated herein in their entirety.

TECHNICAL FIELD

Example embodiments generally relate to ovens and, more particularly, relate to provision of cookware appliances for an oven that is enabled to cook using radio frequency (RF).

BACKGROUND

Combination ovens that are capable of cooking using more than one heating source (e.g., convection, steam, microwave, etc.) have been in use for decades. Each cooking source comes with its own distinct set of characteristics. Thus, a combination oven can typically leverage the advantages of each different cooking source to attempt to provide a cooking process that is improved in terms of time and/or quality.

Recently, ovens employing RF cooking as at least one mechanism by which a combination oven may cook food product have been developed. However, these ovens also have unique characteristics by virtue of the features made available in connection with the application of the heat sources involved. Cooking sequences must be organized in light of the expected results associated with each energy source that is to be employed. That said, factors such as air speed, time, temperature, and sequencing may not be the only factors that impact cooking characteristics. In this regard, internal characteristics of the oven structure may also impact the cooking characteristics.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF SOME EXAMPLES

Some example embodiments may provide an oven that employs multiple cooking sources, or at least an RF energy source. Some example embodiments may further provide for the addition of cookware appliances that may be placed within the cooking chamber of the oven to provide a user with greater flexibility and versatility with respect to positioning food items for RF cooking to achieve consistently heated and browned final products. In this regard, some example embodiments may provide a two tier elevated baking rack.

In an example embodiment, a multiple-tier baking oven rack is provided. The oven rack may include a top tier and a bottom tier lying substantially parallel to the top tier and a metallic support base on which the bottom tier is supported. The bottom tier may be elevated with respect to the support base and the top tier may be elevated with respect to the bottom tier. The bottom tier and the top tier may form a space therebetween to facilitate a flow of air across the bottom tier and the top tier between the opposing sidewalls of an oven in which the multiple-tier baking oven rack is usable.

Some example embodiments may improve the cooking performance and/or improve the operator convenience when cooking with an oven employing an example embodiment.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWING(S)

Having thus described the invention in general terms, reference will now be made to the accompanying drawings, which are not necessarily drawn to scale, and wherein:

FIG. 1 illustrates a perspective view of an oven capable of employing at least two energy sources according to an example embodiment;

FIG. 2 illustrates a functional block diagram of the oven of FIG. 1 according to an example embodiment;

FIG. 3 illustrates a cookware appliance that may be used in connection with the oven 10 of FIG. 1 according to an example embodiment;

FIG. 4 illustrates a more detailed view of a single tier (e.g., the top tier) of the cookware appliance according to an example embodiment;

FIG. 5 illustrates a perspective view of the oven of FIG. 1 with the cookware appliance of FIG. 3 disposed therein according to an example embodiment; and

FIG. 6 illustrates a stacked arrangement of cookware appliances according to an example embodiment.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Some example embodiments now will be described more fully hereinafter with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which some, but not all example embodiments are shown. Indeed, the examples described and pictured herein should not be construed as being limiting as to the scope, applicability or configuration of the present disclosure. Rather, these example embodiments are provided so that this disclosure will satisfy applicable legal requirements. Like reference numerals refer to like elements throughout. Furthermore, as used herein, the term “or” is to be interpreted as a logical operator that results in true whenever one or more of its operands are true. As used herein, operable coupling should be understood to relate to direct or indirect connection that, in either case, enables functional interconnection of components that are operably coupled to each other. Furthermore, as used herein the term “browning” should be understood to refer to the Maillard reaction or other desirable food coloration reactions whereby the food product is turned brown via enzymatic or non-enzymatic processes.

Some example embodiments may improve the cooking performance of an oven and/or may improve the operator experience of individuals employing an example embodiment. In this regard, since some example embodiments may provide the operator with increased flexibility and versatility relative to food item positioning, the operator may take better advantage of the characteristics of the oven. As an example, the operator may place food items so that RF cooking and browning characteristics may be utilized to place items more or less within the airflow path of the heated airstream that is used for product browning by controlling food product elevation. Alternatively or additionally, elevation or positioning of food product within the oven may avoid having one item block energy from being communicated to another item. Further still, elevation or positioning of food products may alter the RF cross section of certain items. Thus, in some cases, a better cooked product may be achieved in terms of consistent heating and browning by providing an ability to disperse food items over elevated cooking platforms within the oven.

FIG. 1 illustrates a perspective view of an oven 10 according to an example embodiment. As shown in FIG. 1, the oven 10 may include a cooking chamber 12 into which a food product may be placed for the application of heat by any of at least two energy sources that may be employed by the oven 10. The cooking chamber 12 may include a door 14 and an interface panel 16, which may sit proximate to the door 14 when the door 14 is closed. In an example embodiment, the interface panel 16 may include a touch screen display capable of providing visual indications to an operator and further capable of receiving touch inputs from the operator. The interface panel 16 may be the mechanism by which instructions are provided to the operator, and the mechanism by which feedback is provided to the operator regarding cooking process status, options and/or the like.

In some embodiments, the oven 10 may include multiple racks or may include rack (or pan) supports 18 or guide slots in order to facilitate the insertion of one or more racks, pans or other support bases capable of holding food product that is to be cooked. In an example embodiment, airflow slots 19 may be positioned proximate to the rack supports 18 (e.g., above the rack supports in one embodiment) to enable air to be forced over a surface of food product placed in a pan or rack associated with the corresponding rack supports 18. Food product placed on any one of the racks (or simply on a base of the cooking chamber 12 in embodiments where multiple racks are not employed) may be heated at least partially using radio frequency (RF) energy. Meanwhile, the airflow that may be provided may be heated to enable browning to be accomplished.

FIG. 2 illustrates a functional block diagram of the oven 10 according to an example embodiment. As shown in FIG. 2, the oven 10 may include at least a first energy source 20 and a second energy source 30. The first and second energy sources 20 and 30 may each correspond to respective different cooking methods. However, it should be appreciated that additional energy sources may also be provided in some embodiments.

In an example embodiment, the first energy source 20 may be an RF energy source configured to generate relatively broad spectrum RF energy to cook food product placed in the cooking chamber 12 of the oven 10. Thus, for example, the first energy source 20 may include an antenna assembly 22 and an RF generator 24. The RF generator 24 of one example embodiment may be configured to generate RF energy at selected levels over a range of 800 MHz to 1 GHz. The antenna assembly 22 may be configured to transmit the RF energy into the cooking chamber 12 and receive feedback to indicate absorption levels of respective different frequencies in the food product. The absorption levels may then be used, at least in part, to control the generation of RF energy to provide balanced cooking of the food product.

In some example embodiments, the second energy source 30 may be an energy source capable of inducing browning of the food product. Thus, for example, the second energy source 30 may include an airflow generator 32 and an air heater 34. However, in some cases, the second energy source 30 may be an infrared energy source, or some other energy source. In examples where the second energy source 30 includes the airflow generator 32, the airflow generator 32 may include a fan or other device capable of driving airflow through the cooking chamber 12 and over a surface of the food product (e.g., via the airflow slots). The air heater 34 may be an electrical heating element or other type of heater that heats air to be driven over the surface of the food product by the airflow generator 32. Both the temperature of the air and the speed of airflow will impact browning times that are achieved using the second energy source 30.

In an example embodiment, the first and second energy sources 20 and 30 may be controlled, either directly or indirectly, by a cooking controller 40. Moreover, it should be appreciated that either or both of the first and second energy sources 20 and 30 may be operated responsive to settings or control inputs that may be provided at the beginning, during or at the end of a program cooking cycle. Furthermore, energy delivered via either or both of the first and second energy sources 20 and 30 may be displayable via operation of the cooking controller 40. The cooking controller 40 may be configured to receive inputs descriptive of the food product and/or cooking conditions in order to provide instructions or controls to the first and second energy sources 20 and 30 to control the cooking process. The first energy source 20 may be said to provide primary heating of the food product, while the second energy source 30 provides secondary heating of the food product. However, it should be appreciated that the terms primary and secondary in this context do not necessarily provide any indication of the relative amounts of energy added by each source. Thus, for example, the secondary heating provided by the second energy source 30 may represent a larger total amount of energy than the primary heating provided by the first energy source 20. Thus, the term “primary” may indicate a temporal relationship and/or may be indicative of the fact that the first energy source is an energy source that can be directly measured, monitored and displayed. In some embodiments, the cooking controller 40 may be configured to receive both static and dynamic inputs regarding the food product and/or cooking conditions. Dynamic inputs may include feedback data regarding absorption of RF spectrum, as described above. In some cases, dynamic inputs may include adjustments made by the operator during the cooking process (e.g., to control the first energy source 20 or the second energy source 30), or changing (or changeable) cooking parameters that may be measured via a sensor network. The static inputs may include parameters that are input by the operator as initial conditions. For example, the static inputs may include a description of the food type, initial state or temperature, final desired state or temperature, a number and/or size of portions to be cooked, a location of the item to be cooked (e.g., when multiple trays or levels are employed), and/or the like.

In some embodiments, the cooking controller 40 may be configured to access data tables that define RF cooking parameters used to drive the RF generator 34 to generate RF energy at corresponding levels and/or frequencies for corresponding times determined by the data tables based on initial condition information descriptive of the food product. As such, the cooking controller 40 may be configured to employ RF cooking as a primary energy source for cooking the food product. However, other energy sources (e.g., secondary and tertiary or other energy sources) may also be employed in the cooking process. In some cases, programs or recipes may be provided to define the cooking parameters to be employed for each of multiple potential cooking stages that may be defined for the food product and the cooking controller 40 may be configured to access and/or execute the programs or recipes. In some embodiments, the cooking controller 40 may be configured to determine which program to execute based on inputs provided by the user. In an example embodiment, an input to the cooking controller 40 may also include browning instructions or other instructions that relate to the application of energy from a secondary energy source (e.g., the second energy source 30). In this regard, for example, the browning instructions may include instructions regarding the air speed, air temperature and/or time of application of a set air speed and temperature combination. The browning instructions may be provided via a user interface as described in greater detail below, or may be provided via instructions associated with a program or recipe. Furthermore, in some cases, initial browning instructions may be provided via a program or recipe, and the operator may make adjustments to the energy added by the second energy source 30 in order to adjust the amount of browning to be applied. In such a case, an example embodiment may employ the cooking controller 40 to account for changes made to the amount of energy to be added by the second energy source 30, by adjusting the amount of energy to be added via the first energy source 20.

FIG. 3 illustrates a cookware appliance that may be used in connection with the oven 10 of FIG. 1. However, it should be appreciated that the cookware appliance may also be useable in connection with some other ovens by virtue of its removable nature. The cookware appliance of FIG. 3 is embodied as a multiple-tier elevated baking rack 100. Although FIG. 3 shows the multiple-tier elevated baking rack 100 having two tiers, some embodiments may include more than just two tiers. FIG. 4 illustrates a more detailed view of a single tier (e.g., the top tier) of the cookware appliance according to an example embodiment. An example embodiment will now be described in reference to FIGS. 3 and 4.

As shown in FIG. 3, the multiple-tier elevated baking rack 100 may include a bottom tier 110 and a top tier 120. However, as indicated above, intermediate tiers between the bottom tier 110 and the top tier 120 may be included in some cases. In an example embodiment, the bottom tier 110 and the top tier 120 may each be substantially rectangular in shape to substantially match a shape of the cooking chamber 12. However, any shape may be employed as long as the bottom tier 110 and the top tier 120 fit within the cooking chamber 12. In some embodiments, the bottom tier 110 and the top tier 120 may each have substantially the same shape and dimensions.

In the example of FIGS. 3 and 4, the top tier 120 includes a frame 130 that extends around a periphery of the top tier 130. The frame 130 includes a first frame member 132, a second frame member 134, a third frame member 136 and a fourth frame member 138. The first frame member 132 extends substantially perpendicular to the second and fourth frame members 134 and 138, which each connect to an opposite end of the first frame member 132. The first frame member 132 also extends substantially parallel to the third frame member 136. The third frame member 136 extends between the opposite ends of the second and fourth frame members 134 and 138 relative to the ends of the second and fourth frame members 134 and 138 that connect to the first frame member 132. The second and fourth frame members 134 and 138 also extend substantially perpendicular to the third frame member 136.

The top tier 120 further includes a grate structure 140 that is disposed to lie in the same plane as the frame 130 and cover an entirety of the area defined by the frame 130. The grate structure 140 of FIG. 4 is formed as a wire mesh that includes members that extend diagonally relative to the frame members. However, in some embodiments, the grate structure 140 may include wires, bars, or other members that extend substantially parallel (or perpendicular) to the first and third frame members 132 and 136 and substantially perpendicular (or parallel) to the second and fourth frame members 134 and 138. The grate structure 140 may be affixed to the frame members by welding, by being pinched between portions of the frame members, or by another form of adhesion. Alternatively, the grate structure 140 may be removable from the frame 130 and may rest upon the frame 130. The bottom tier 110 may be structured in similar fashion to the structure described above for the top tier 120, so a specific description of the structure of the bottom tier 110 would be redundant and will not be provided.

In an example embodiment, the bottom tier 110 and the top tier 120 may be connected to each other at only one end thereof. For example, a C-shaped (or U-shaped) support bracket 145 may be provided at the third frame member 136 of the top tier 120 to connect the third frame member 136 to the corresponding frame member of the bottom tier 110. Accordingly, the top tier 120 (and any intermediate tiers) may be cantilevered relative to the bottom tier 110 to extend over the bottom tier 110 without supports or brackets being provided at three sides. A distance between the tiers of the multiple-tier elevated baking rack 100 may vary for different applications. However, for some applications, the distance may typically be set at somewhere in the range of between about 2 inches to about 8 inches. By providing the top tier 120 to be cantilevered relative to the bottom tier 110, and by placing the support brackets 145 at a back portion of the multiple-tier elevated baking rack 100 relative to its insertion into the oven 10, the side portions of the multiple-tier elevated baking rack 100 may present no (or minimal) resistance to airflow across the oven 10 between the airflow slots 19. Furthermore, placing the support brackets 145 at the back, the operator may have unobstructed access to an entirety of the bottom tier 110 without concern over hitting a support structure with any implement used to place, maneuver or retrieve food items placed on the bottom tier 110. As such, the space between the top tier 120 and the bottom tier 110 may be relatively uninhibited so that airflow can pass between the tiers and improve contact with the food items disposed thereon.

In some embodiments, the bottom tier 110 may include support feet 150. The support feet 150 may support the bottom tier 110 to elevate the bottom tier 110 relative to a structure on which the bottom tier 110 rests. In an example embodiment, a cooking tray, pan, grate or other structure (e.g., pan 160 in FIG. 5) may be slid into the rack supports 18 of FIG. 1. The support feet 150 may then rest on the tray, pan, grate or other such structure. In an example embodiment, the support feet 150 may be substantially C-shaped or U-shaped structures that are attached to frame members on opposing sides. In the example of FIG. 3, the support feet may be disposed proximate to the corners of the frame of the bottom tier 110 to provide stable support to the bottom tier 110 when resting on the tray, pan or other structure disposed within one of the rack supports 18. However, in an example embodiment, the frame of the bottom tier 110 (or the top tier 120) may be sized to enable the multiple-tier elevated baking rack 100 to slide directly into the rack supports 18. Thus, for example, the top tier 120 may be slid into the rack supports 18 such that the bottom tier 110 is supported below the top tier 120 hanging in a cantilevered fashion from the top tier 120 and supported by the support brackets 145. Alternatively, the bottom tier 110 may be slid into the rack supports 18 such that the top tier 120 extends above the bottom tier 110 in a cantilevered fashion and is supported by the support brackets 145.

In an example embodiment, the support feet 150 (or legs) of the multiple-tier elevated baking rack 100 may be the same heights as the support brackets 145. Thus, for example, the bottom tier 110 may be elevated above the pan 160 by an amount that is equivalent to the amount that the top tier 120 is elevated relative to the bottom tier 110. FIG. 5 illustrates a perspective view of the oven 10 with the multiple-tier elevated baking rack 100 disposed therein on a pan 160, which forms a metallic base. Food items can be seen disposed on each of the top tier 120 and the bottom tier 110, and some could also be placed on the pan 160. However, since the top tier 120 and the bottom tier 110 each have grates upon which the food items sit, the food items are not shielded from RF energy the way they could be shielded (or partially shielded) when placed in a baking pan having some degree of pan depth. Furthermore, the grates upon which the food items sit allow improved airflow over the food items (including a bottom portion of the food items), which may improve cooking characteristics achieved in the oven 10 in some cases.

In some embodiments, a plurality of multiple-tier elevated baking racks may be provided in a stacked arrangement, as shown in FIG. 6. Thus, for example, the support feet (or legs) of the bottom rack may sit on the pan 160, while the support feet (or legs) of the top rack may sit on the bottom rack. In an example embodiment, the racks may each have a support post 170 disposed between the top tier and bottom tier thereof in order to help support the weight of a stacked arrangement of racks. The provision of multiple elevated tiers may increase productivity and/or efficiency, but may also allow increased exposure to airflow and RF penetration so that a more consistent product may be achieved.

In an example embodiment, the frame members, the grate structure, the support brackets and/or the support feet of the multiple-tier elevated baking rack 100 may be made from aluminum. However, alternative materials may be used in other embodiments, such as, for example, stainless steel.

In some embodiments, cooking using any of the elevated structures described herein may be enhanced by employing at least one pan beneath the elevated structure. The pan (e.g., pan 160) may not only suspend the food to place it in a better position for reception of airflow and RF energy, but the pan may also reflect or focus RF energy and/or airflow upward toward the food placed on the elevated structure. Moreover, in some cases, placing a pan above the elevated structure may further enhance cooking characteristics achieved.

Many modifications and other embodiments of the inventions set forth herein will come to mind to one skilled in the art to which these inventions pertain having the benefit of the teachings presented in the foregoing descriptions and the associated drawings. Therefore, it is to be understood that the inventions are not to be limited to the specific embodiments disclosed and that modifications and other embodiments are intended to be included within the scope of the appended claims. Moreover, although the foregoing descriptions and the associated drawings describe exemplary embodiments in the context of certain exemplary combinations of elements and/or functions, it should be appreciated that different combinations of elements and/or functions may be provided by alternative embodiments without departing from the scope of the appended claims. In this regard, for example, different combinations of elements and/or functions than those explicitly described above are also contemplated as may be set forth in some of the appended claims. In cases where advantages, benefits or solutions to problems are described herein, it should be appreciated that such advantages, benefits and/or solutions may be applicable to some example embodiments, but not necessarily all example embodiments. Thus, any advantages, benefits or solutions described herein should not be thought of as being critical, required or essential to all embodiments or to that which is claimed herein. Although specific terms are employed herein, they are used in a generic and descriptive sense only and not for purposes of limitation.





 
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