Disclaimer: I was provided a Sun Chef Cooker to review, but all opinions are my own.
The Sun Chef Cooker is a parabolic solar cooker. There are four main types of solar cookers – panel cookers, box ovens, tube cookers, and parabolic cookers. You can read more about the different types at About Solar Cooking.
Because of the way the dish is shaped, the sunlight comes into the dish and then bounces up to a center focal point. The amount of concentrated sunlight in that focal point determines the final temperature in the cooking ring.The focused sunlight concentrates into an extremely high temperature beam in just a few seconds. Those temperatures are high enough to grill and fry foods – something that box solar cookers cannot do. Maximum and sustainable temperatures can be reached by keeping the dish focused into the sun. If that beam is concentrated on a piece of wood, the wood will catch fire. If that beam is concentrated on a pot of food, the food will cook. Voila! Lunch!
Now don’t get me wrong. I love my box cookers. But there is just something really exciting when you see a parabolic solar cooker. The parabolic solar cookers are absolutely beautiful and never cease to amaze and thrill me. So I was very eager to try out this little beauty when offered the opportunity. And I was not disappointed.
Sun Chef Cooker
The Sun Chef Cooker is a deep parabolic bowl, made of 24 shiny aluminum panels that fit together inside of an aluminum ring. A frame to hold the solar cooking pot rests across the top of the reflector ring.
The Sun Chef Cooker comes un-assembled. You will need a few tools and some time to put it together. There are 24 shiny reflector panel pieces that fit into the aluminum frame. Each piece is screwed to the next – and then the next – and then the next – until finally all of the panels have been fitted together within the frame. All together, it took us several hours to assemble the Sun Chef Cooker.
What I like about the Sun Chef Cooker
- Made in the USA – The Sun Chef is manufactured in Arizona, USA. It is becoming more and more difficult to buy products made in the USA, so I really appreciate being able to “Buy American”.
- Quality Materials – The Sun Chef reflectors are made of high quality polished aluminum steel. The panels are put together tightly to form a perfect reflective surface.
- Cook Temperatures – The cooking temperature is high enough to fry, boil, and grill food, but it does not get as hot as some of the other parabolic solar cookers. The lower temperature is actually a benefit as it does not require as close and constant attention to keep the heat from burning a hole in the pot. We reached a temperature of 388°F (198°C) on our first cooking attempt.
- Stable Cooking Surface – The large cooking platform is surrounded by an short aluminum rim. The platform is large enough to hold a very large pot or skillet. The short rim gives a bit of security and assurance that my pot won’t fall off while I’m stirring.
- Sun Focus Bolt – It may seem a little bit low tech, but sometimes the old ways are the best ways. In this case, there is a large bolt on the side of the frame that is used to focus the cooker. Just line it up with the sun until there is no shadow. Time to refocus when the shadow grows long.
- Light Weight – so it is easy to move around.
- Movable Legs – The legs are movable and can be moved to the best angle to make sure the cooker is stable. They can also be folded flat for storage.
What I dislike about the Sun Chef Cooker
I didn’t find many things to dislike about the Sun Chef – just a couple of minor annoyances.
- Light Weight – One of the very things that I like about the Sun Chef is also one of the things that I dislike as well. Because it is so light weight, the wind can be a problem. The legs will need to be weighted down with sand bags to keep a strong wind from blowing it over.
- Movable Legs – This is another one of those love-hate relationships. There is no way to lock down and keep the legs in place, so if you move the cooker, the legs will probably have moved about and will need to be readjusted. A minor problem at best.
Overall, the Sun Chef Cooker does exactly as it promises. It will boil, grill, and fry food. It is light weight, easy to move, and maneuver. It cooks fast and has a long cook window before it needs to be refocused. I’m enjoying using the Sun Chef.
Do you have a Sun Chef Cooker? Do you have a different parabolic solar cooker? Tell me how you like them.