Slice, Dice & Sell: Chef'n Parent Goes for $313 Million

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The founder and chief executive of Chef'n, David Holcomb, exhibits the endearing goofiness of Gene Wilder playing Willy Wonka overlaid with the elegant British manners of Gordon Ramsey at his most charming. A fan of the Grateful Dead, he says he came up with the name for his company while listening to their iconic song, Truck'n.

Peelers, hullers, strainers, colanders, steamers, juicers, zesters, baking sheets, spatulas, spoons, devices to measure, bake, shake, grind, dice, and chop: that's the inventory for Holcomb's workshop and showroom.

The inventions themselves vary considerably. There's a plain silicone spatula, standard stuff in wild colors. But things get wacky when you contemplate the deadly efficiency of the Chef'n Garlic Zoom, a ruthless chopping device that makes short shrift of half a dozen peeled cloves. You load them into the device and roll it across the kitchen counter; precisely calibrated gears spin a vortex of lethal scimitars on an interior axle; then you up-end the device and shake out the perfectly chopped garlic. Just don't insert your finger to scoop out the bits that cling to the inside unless you have an ambulance idling outside the door.

If you have any skills as a home cook, frankly, you can make mincemeat out of garlic in less time than it takes to read these lines. Holcomb, with a straight face, says, "We want to make you a better cook so you can make better food."

Another gadget company, Taylor Precision, bought Chef'n in 2014, and added Rabbit (the corkscrew maker), ending up with 11 brands, 3,000 products, and 160 employees. And the story would have ended there except for another outfit called Lifetime Brands, annual revenues sneaking up on $600 million, and brands on the order of Farberware, Kitchenaid, and Sabatier. Guy Fieri's line of cookware, too.

The price, according to Puget Sound Business Journal, a cool $313 million. A heck of a lot of garlic, in other words.

Rob Kay, who had headed the Taylor side of the business, slides over to run the combined companies. Watch your fingers!

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This page contains a single entry by Cornichon published on December 23, 2017 11:00 AM.

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