When you manage the manufacturing of products, there are hundreds of decisions that need to be made for each product as it’s developed—beyond the initial design and beyond the creation of packaging to showcase the end result.
Daniel Keating, CHEFS’ Product Development Director, oversees it all. “We’re at a stage now where you can buy a CHEFS product for someone else, have it shipped to them, and feel happy about their experience when they open it,” Keating said. “Our products are very giftable.”
But before grandma, or your mom, or your sister, cousin, or friend opens that gift, Keating has already spent months making sure every detail is a good as can be.
“As a product development team, we work together to test and approve all products,” Keating said. “We’re able to be very nimble and responsive.”
Keating pays attention to all details, selecting what will work best for a particular product. “We develop products all over the world. We take the time to determine what country will work best for the product we’re developing. We have agents all over the world, including in the U.S.
“That’s why our terra cotta products are produced in Italy and our textiles in India—because artisans in those countries have superb reputations in working with those materials.”
Keating is uniquely qualified to lead product development at CHEFS. He’s been active in the field since college, starting out with national importer/retailer Pier 1. “I traveled around the world from the beginning,” he said. “As a result, I have an understanding of how things are produced and how improvements could be made in the processes—and how to have an impact on that.”
He’s also worked in product design for JCPenney and other national marketers. What he has at CHEFS for the first time is control over the entire product development process.
“Being able to impact development from start to finish—from design to delivery—that’s what’s intrigued me about working with CHEFS,” he said. “So often you’re limited by external forces, whether the quality or the price point or the factory you choose.
At other places he’s worked, the timeline for product development was so long he often felt the company was late to the table with their product. Not so at CHEFS, where Keating’s office is right next door to Tim Littleton, CHEFS’ president.
“Tim is actively involved in what we do and has developed the mentality that ‘if you have the data to support development, then let’s go for it.’”
Keating’s involvement extends even to product returns. “CHEFS has a 100 percent guarantee,” he said. “So, if someone doesn’t like a product, we’ll take it back. Once a month I go look at the products that come back and that gives me a pre-alert to what any issues might be.
“I can’t claim my job’s done once a product is designed, manufactured, tested, and shipped. My job continues after that because, if it does come back my first thought is ‘Why? How can I fix it or improve it?’”
Keating stressed the importance of customer reviews—bad or good reviews. “We really do read them and listen—and I get reports from customer service, as well. We don’t design or develop products in a vacuum. We do it with our community in mind—and with their requests and suggestions noted.”
CHEFS Cheese Melting Dome: Stainless basting cover captures heat to melt cheese quickly and infuse more grilled flavor into hamburgers. Cheese melts just enough over the sides to ensure cheese with every bite, while infusing delicious smoky-grilled flavor.
“A popular item in the small size, we questionned if we could do better. So, we developed these stronger stainless steel domes while adding a larger size for grilling and cheese melting up to four burgers at once. Paired up, they make an essential set for the grill.”
CHEFS Potato Grilling Rack: Bake the best-tasting potatoes right on the grill with the potato grilling rack. This potato grilling rack creates extraordinary moist, light, and fluffy potato interiors with delicious seasoned skins.
“This was an item where we saw a need for immediate improvement. We designed and added two heavy gauge, riveted, extra-wide handles for easy gripping along with increasing the perforations for enhanced heat flow from the grill. Now it bakes potatoes evenly and is safe to move around.”
CHEFS Flameproof Pizza Stone, 16 inch: This large round pizza stone distributes and retains heat evenly, adding authentic brick-owen style crispness on a grill or in the oven.
“Perfect for spontaneous pizza making at home on the grill or in the oven without the need for a dedicated pizza oven. Developed with easy-grip handles for safe lifting and moving.”
CHEFS Bistro Flatware Service Sets: The distinctive flatware service in French cafes is elegant for formal dining and durable for everyday. Flatware features defined bolster, ergonomic rounded handle and full tang, ensuring comfortable, balanced grip.
“A classic everyday set of flatware we produce in 18/8 stainless steel. As a popular style for everyday and family gatherings, we have expanded the range into other colors and soon to be added unique pieces.”
CHEFS White Porcelain Pasta Bowls: Classic wide and shallow pasta bowl set presents world-class Italian cuisine at home. Elegant enough for formal dining, yet durable for everyday use.
“We diligently developed these pasta bowls in size, elegance, and versatility through our specialist porcelain factory in Chaozhou, China. A historic city in its own right, it is also renkowned for its heritage in porcelain production.”
CHEFS Verona Bread Dipping Set, 5 Pieces: Beautifully embossed oil dipping set enhances the distinctive aroma and flavor of fine oil and herbs. Deeper than traditional bowls, these allow oil to breathe and enhance flavor.
“Spending my childhood in Italy, I am acutely aware of their culinary customs and traditions. I developed this set to enhance our popular Verona pasta collection and bring the full flavor of Italian cooking to the table.”