Why would a chef’s resource website like CHEFScatalog.com, which has access to all of the top brands in the industry, feel the need to develop their own line of products? All this week, CHEFS President, Tim Littleton, and CHEFS Product Development Director, Daniel Keating, talk about the creation of the CHEFS brand—and take a look at some of their favorite CHEFS products.
At his own Thanksgiving Dinner a year ago, Littleton and his wife had 20 people gathered around the table. In the book Think About: 77 Creative Prompts for Innovators by Andrea Syverson (Paramount Market Publishing), he shares the genesis story of two of CHEFS’ most popular products:
“Like many families, we don’t carve our turkey at the table,” Littleton said. “It’s just too messy.”
So, he carved the bird in the kitchen and loaded their platter with organized piles of white meat and dark meat so his guests didn’t have to dig around to find what they wanted. That’s when a light bulb went on and the company’s Large Divided Oval Serving Platter was born.
Later, after repeated trips to the kitchen to warm the gravy in the microwave, another idea presented itself—the Tall Gravy Boat (which has a lid). “I thought, ‘If this is what’s happening at our table, it’s happening across all Thanksgiving gatherings. I knew CHEFS could solve this, and we did.”
It’s that ability to anticipate, Syverson writes, that drives CHEFS innovation. “(Littleton) leads the company and product development team to constantly be on the hunt for ways to make their customers’ lives easier and more productive in the kitchen. It’s a full-time job, but one that has helped set (CHEFS) apart from other cooking companies.”
In a recent conversation, Littleton said the commitment to innovation is a primary driver at CHEFS. “As we started to look at developing our own products, we felt—and still do—that we could look at what’s out there and make it better.”
Keating, who leads the product development team, agreed. Just creating a similar product to what’s already available isn’t sufficient.
“It has to be better from our perspective,” he said. “We’re, essentially, becoming the manufacturer. We’re putting our name out there. We have to feel good about what we’re creating and providing for our customers.”
And that’s another driver—CHEFS’ customers. “We listen to our community,” Keating said. “We read their reviews of our products and react to what they like and don’t like about our products—and about others’ products. Then we take that information to make improvements.”
Tomorrow: How reviews from our community impact product development.
CHEFS has a number of quality products we’ve developed within the Bakeware category (See all CHEFS Bakeware products [link to the category].) Here are a few favorites, with comments.
CHEFS Silicone Baking Sheet Liner: Reusable baking sheet liner makes any surface nonstick. Preserve the integrity of your baking sheets and jelly roll pans with this silicone pan liner that ensures mess-free accurate baking.
“Designed for the avid baker, we chose a commercial manufacturer to produce these exclusives for us with NSF rating, cookie markings, superior tear strength, and sized to fit our top-rated Jelly Roll pans (30003 and 29635).”
CHEFS Size-Marked Pastry Board: Take the guesswork out of cutting dough with this North American hardwood pastry board. Conveniently marked with both U.S. and metric measurements, an over-the-counter-edge stability lip keeps board from slipping.
“Made is the U.S.A. is not an easy ask for development, however in this case North American hardwood is just that. We partnered wtih a known and established U.S. manufacturer to create our own pastry board.”
CHEFS Italian Casserole Set, 3 piece: Vintage-style round baking dishes in three sizes add delicious golden crispness to casseroles, entrees, and desserts. Authentically detailed with antiqued edge, pebbled exterior, and smooth interior, these Italian-style dishes are prized for their heat-retentive qualities, uniform baking, and presentation.
“Inspired by oven to table traditions of old, we created this set in multiple sizes to add a seasonal spark to our assortment.”
CHEFS Nonstick Loaf Pan: Professional-quality nonstick even-heating nonstick loaf pan releases high-rising bread. Heavy-gauge aluminized steel heats evenly, ensuring uniform baking. With the high sides, this bread pan is perfect for traditional yeast bread, quick bread or pound cake.
“Commercial grade bakeware designed to stand the test of time. We developed these in a commercial gauge, aluminized steel, with rolled rims and folded corners for strength and crisp edges. Finishing with the renowned nonstick Eclipse coating, we created these to perform.”
CHEFS Nonstick French Fry Baking Sheet: Nonstick French fry pan bakes crispy, low-fat golden French fries, without frying in oil or turning. Perforations in the pan enable heat to rise and circulate around French fries for all-over browning, without turning. Read a review.
“Having grown up in Scotland with oven fries (chips), this was a natural to improve upon with a durable, aluminized steel base, perforated ridges for air circulation, and Eclipse coating for quick release. It is my everyday essential for crisping and browning in the oven.”