Inventor cooks up a winner

Jo Kennard, an ex-Ashburtonian, is an avid inventor and her latest invention, the EasyOven, has gone global as Sue Newman found out. 

Inventor Jo Kennard prepares to cook a pot of rice in her latest invention, the EasyOven.

Jo Kennard was fed up with finding that pots of food she’d taken to share with friends were either cold on arrival or had spilled through her car.

And for her, being fed up didn’t mean complaining, it meant turning her inventive mind to finding an answer. That answer took 20 years to perfect and came in the form of a heat retention oven that is proving a winner worldwide.

Inventing things is what Mrs Kennard does for a living.

“I invent things in my sleep,” she said.

Mrs Kennard (nee Weir) is an ex-Ashburtonian, now living in Brisbane, who runs a company established to market a range of products she’s created from scratch. It is her latest invention however, the EasyOven, that has attracted international attention.

The fabric oven grew from humble beginnings and is now manufactured and sold in several countries. It appears impossible that the simple product can not only keep food hot for up to three hours but that it can continue the cooking process of food that has been briefly simmered on a conventional stove.

Add to that the stove’s ability to keep frozen goods frozen for up to three hours and logic goes out the window.

Mrs Kennard based her design on the hay box concept, creating an oven that could be rolled up and stored when not in use.

It had a solid field test during the Christchurch earthquakes and the Brisbane floods and emerged a winner. It is now made and sold in several countries.

The oven saves between 83 and 90 per cent of cooking energy, if used four times a week it will pay for itself in three months and it means meals can be prepared in advance, given a brief preliminary cook and then popped into the cloth oven for up to three hours to continue cooking.

“People look at it, they see it and they say it can’t work, but it does. I’ve used it in so many cooking demonstrations.”

But it is in developing countries where fuel resources are limited that the oven might find its greatest use because it uses just 250g of wood.

Mrs Kennard’s formed relationships with the United Nations and several aid agencies, all of which are keen to take her stove on board. And she’s also partnered with the makers of a clean wood stove that creates a perfect pairing.

“There are 4.5 million clean wood stoves going into Ethiopia and it made sense for the EasyOven to go with these,” she said.

The stove uses a very small amount of wood and its pot fits perfectly in the EasyOven bag.

Mrs Kennard is setting up a charitable arm to her company to allow a percentage of the profit from each EasyOven sale to subsidise product going into the aid market. She also hopes to set up small businesses in developing countries where people can sell the ovens on a party-plan system.

“It’s an energy-efficient, sustainable product and its timing is right.”

With the stove now well established in the market, Mrs Kennard plans to publish a recipe book to show the range of food it will cook.

Having been satisfied with the performance of the EasyOven™ and with the world becoming more aware of atmospheric pollution, smoke inhalation diseases and increasing costs of living it was time to launch the product as the IP including patents were also in place. EasyOven is a proud partner of The UN Global Cooking Alliance – Clean Cookstoves

Perfect partners, a cleanwood stove and Jo Kennard’s EasyOven.

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