Fresco Locks Up Deal To Bring Kitchen OS to Middleby Consumer Kitchen Brands

This week, smart kitchen startup Fresco announced it had struck a deal with Middleby to integrate the Fresco Kitchen OS platform across the cooking equipment giant’s residential portfolio, starting with high-end kitchen appliance brand Viking.

The first Middleby product line to incorporate the Fresco Kitchen OS platform will be the Viking RVL Collection. The RVL line, a new collection introduced this week that is more modern and tech-forward than traditional Viking lines, will incorporate the Fresco OS via a firmware agent residing on an integrated system-on-chip. In addition to the built-in Fresco firmware, which will power the connectivity to other Viking and non-Viking brands that use Fresco technology, the smart kitchen startup is also providing the appliance brand with a white-labeled Viking app. According to Fresco, they will also work on a smart recipe app for another Middleby brand in AGA(Middleby acquired AGA in 2015 and acquired Viking in 2012).

The move is a nice win for Fresco, in part because it is a validation of its revamped kitchen OS, which the company announced a year ago. The deal also adds a premium built-in appliance brand in Viking to its growing list of customers. The Irish/US startup, which got its start a decade ago with the launch of its connected kitchen scale, has been steadily chalking up wins over the past few years, including with Japanese microwave maker Panasonic and the once white-hot Instant Brands.

Middleby is interesting because it represents many other potential product lineups for integration. Not only are there other built-in appliance brands like AGA, La Cornue, and Rangemaster for Fresco to expand to, but the company also has a couple of outdoor grills as well as a countertop cooking brand in Brava. For its part, Brava was not mentioned as an initial target for the Fresco technology, but my guess is that has as much to do with the complex and fairly unique commands associated with the Brava light-cooking technology as anything.

I asked Fresco CEO Ben Harris how his company has continued to grow its partner list in the connected kitchen space, and he pointed towards the system-on-chip in his hand, which featured an Espressif ESP 32 DSP. According to Harris, Fresco’s hardware engineering and silicon understanding, born almost a decade ago when the company introduced the Drop scale, has helped them win customers looking to take advantage of their technology and their knowledge in this space.

According to Harris, having on-chip, on-board integration of a kitchen tech stack via their kitchen OS SoC module is not only a good way to on-board a customer like Viking, it also results in a faster system. Harris said that in the early days, when they went from building cloud-to-cloud integration between smart kitchen equipment from different manufacturers to integrating their own SoC with built-in firmware, the quickly saw how much more responsive and fast the system performed.

“It was like that, in an instant,” said Harris in an interview with The Spoon at KBIS. “It definitely feels like it’s an extension of the appliance, and it makes a big difference in the engagement of the user.”

In addition to partnering up for a product integration, the two companies also announced that Middleby will become an investor in Fresco. In this sense, the deal is somewhat reminiscent of the Instant Brands partnership, which had the pressure cooker maker investing in Fresco at the time of the idea.

You can watch my interview with Harris at KBIS below:

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