Fun, Food, Pets and Travel

Kitchen Chat

Margaret McSweeney

Middleby Corporation: Authenticity and Innovation

Today’s foodies appreciate the full experience of what it takes to create and curate a meal, whether it’s in their own kitchens or in restaurants.  We like to understand the chefs’ inspirations and techniques.  We also like to know about the sourcing of ingredients, and many restaurants now list that information on their menus. What doesn’t appear on the menu, however, is the actual equipment that the chefs use to create their piece de resistance.  On today’s Kitchen Chat®, we will learn about the technology and commercial equipment in the restaurants and how that impacts the way we cook at home.  Chef Jaime Laurita and I did a pop-up Kitchen Chat in the Middleby Residential booth at the National Restaurant Show and interviewed Tim FitzGerald, CEO of Middleby Corporation and David Brewer, COO of Middleby Corporation.  Middleby is one of the largest commercial and kitchen residential equipment manufacturers in the world.  If you’re eating at a restaurant, most likely there is Middleby equipment in that kitchen such as Jade, Southbend, TurboChef, Blodgett and many more. You will enjoy learning about the innovation, technology, precision and power that goes into ensuring top performance of the company’s products that help create authentic food experiences to bring people around the table, whether that meal is at home or in a restaurant.  Middleby also owns some of the top luxury residential brands in many of our homes, including Viking, La Cornue, Aga, Lynx, Marvel, Evo, and Uline. It’s exciting to discover how the innovation from the commercial kitchens is now part of our home kitchens.  As Brewer explains, “We have pushed a lot of our food service technology, the burner technology, the snap action thermostats, the air distribution, the air handling systems from the highest end pieces of equipment that only the highest end restaurants use and have put it right into Viking.  So when you are working on a Viking in your home, you are working with the same technology, the same capability, the same flame distribution as Morton’s or Ruth’s Chris or any high end restaurant in the world.”

As many of you know, I was a NYC corporate finance banker before I began my culinary journey and founded Kitchen Chat®.  For those who share my passion for business, you will appreciate the CEO, Tim FitzGerald’s insights into Middleby’s acquisition strategy of identifying the leading brands and technologies and continuing to add them to the portfolio. FitzGerald says,  “More recently, we’ve gone into automation, software and IoT solutions. and that’s the next wave that’s coming to the commercial side that will ultimately find its way into the residential side as well.”

According to Dave Brewer, here are the top trends in the commercial food equipment industry:

  1. Ventless is everything. When building a home or restaurant, the ability to vent the air is a key element.  The vents influence the layout of a restaurant and a home kitchen.  Middleby has created ventless options facilitating the design of kitchens without worrying about hood placement.  This is both an asset play and a design layout play which allows mobility of the equipment and opportunities for limited time offers on the menus.
  2. Ghost kitchens are a secret trend.  Many of the big chains are using them.  A ghost kitchen is a kitchen off by itself that produces the food and then ships it out to the restaurants, almost like a quasi-commissary operation.  In addition, ghost kitchens can consist of six to seven independent restaurants cooking out of the same facilities and bringing the food out to their establishments.  There are around 200-300 ghost kitchens around the world.  Here is an interesting Bloomberg article about ghost kitchens.
  3. Infused slushie beverages.  People are looking for their own type of beverage. Through Taylor, Middleby has created a line of products through Zamboozy that can infuse ingredients into slushies and soft serves that enable the mixologist and local chef to differentiate their menu and be very unique and authentic.

It’s such a joy and honor to co-host Kitchen Chat® in the Middleby Residential showrooms with Chef Jaime Laurita.  Make sure you visit him in the Chicago showroom, Suite 137 in the Merchandise Mart

Savor the day!