Delivering Quality: Built In Partnership With Accor, Kitch-In Is Set To Transform The Online Food Delivery Space
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It’s a great time to be in the online F&B business, despite the number of players in the market. Dark kitchens or ghost kitchens- cooking facilities that produce food only for delivery with no dine-in or customer facing areas- could create a US$1 trillion global opportunity by 2030, according to a Euromonitor virtual webinar presented by Euromonitor’s Global Food and Beverage Lead Michael Schaefer.
The Middle East has also caught on to this trend, and data from RedSeer Consulting shows that the sector is becoming competitive, with more than 380 brands and over 70 kitchens present in the region. In the UAE alone, while the overall food service sector suffered during the pandemic’s ensuing lockdowns and is expected to post a loss in earnings of almost 40% by year-end compared to the previous year, there has been a net positive impact on the online channels of food delivery, reported RedSeer.
It is in this environment that Kitch-In is set to make its mark with its launch in Q2 of 2021. Built in partnership with Accor Group, Kitch-In is a digital platform that combines restaurants and brands endorsed by award-winning chefs, that will deliver high quality food straight to customers’ homes. The platform has been created by restaurateur Evegny Kuzin alongside well-known chef Izu Ani, both with impressive culinary pedigrees to their name.
Backed by their knowledge of the market, the duo is set to make their mark on the online delivery market– and help a few hotels along the way. Commenting on the new venture, Kuzin says, “We are proud and excited to be partnering with Accor, one of the world’s leading hospitality enterprises, which allows us to provide exciting opportunities for in-room dining, as well as learn from the attained expertise of their knowledgeable and talented team.” Kuzin adds, “Kitch-In will launch with four virtual brands in April, three legacy brands in May, and aims to add another 10 virtual brands by September 2021, covering a range of cuisines. Each kitchen can house at least 10 brands, and as the number of kitchens increases, so can the culinary offering, leading to an expected growth of 50 kitchens within the first year of operations.”
Chef Izu Ani, co-founder, Kitch-In
Kitch-In’s ecosystem includes three components: the kitchens (which will include a research lab, as well as production and satellite kitchens), legacy brands of Kuzin’s Bulldozer Group along with digital-only concepts, and strategic partners including Accor Group and Careem. Kitch-In will have its own app, with user-friendly and attractive interfaces for both hotel guests and consumers. According to Kuzin, Kitch-In will enable Accor hotels to elevate in-room dining experiences, as well as offer consistent, excellent quality cuisine to the wider community. “Our goal is to simplify cooking, nutrition and sustainability by providing easy access to impeccable cuisine, prepared by an expert culinary team that meets nutritional requirements and reduces waste, at a reasonable price,” Kuzin explains.
Ani agrees with this notion, saying, “In a professional kitchen, factors such as wastage are consciously managed and maintained, so that we are economical and sustainable, whereas in the home, it is not always possible to do the same. Similarly, it can be difficult to ensure we are meeting our nutritional goals when cooking at home, without the training or understanding that comes from a culinary background. One of the things I love the most about Kitch-In is that we enable everyone to have access to good quality, sustainable, and nutritious meals, at a reasonable price.”
To enable the creation of high-quality meals, the chef will have a solid team of chefs from Bulldozer Group to back him up: Shane Macneill, who launched Novikov Dubai and is currently the Executive Chef at Shanghai Me; Orestis Kotefas, the executive chef at Gaia; Aya Dubai’s sushi master Yukitaka Kitade; and Chris Blake, who has worked at Zuma Dubai and now is with Aya Dubai. Ani says, “Our culinary team have worked really hard to curate new menus for our digital brands, using their skills and understanding of culture, cuisine and ingredients. We have developed a thorough training and education system to help onboard new members of staff and maintain the same level of quality as we grow.”
The platform will have a research lab, located in Dubai, and it will be an Accor kitchen staffed by the Bulldozer team. Everything from R&D, recipe and menu designs, quality management, standard operating procedures and training, will take place here. “I believe the best way to create an efficient and happy team, is to give them the time and space to train together, find their bearings and feel comfortable, especially when working with new technology,” Ani says.
Technology naturally plays a major role in the business model of the platform, which has been years in the making. Kuzin reveals that the last few years have been spent on working on the research and development for Kitch-In. “By studying, understanding and managing each aspect of the business chain, we maintain consistent quality control and ensure it is scalable,” Kuzin says. He continues, “We want to ensure that the platform serves its community to their preference, so we have spent a lot of time researching market trends and consumer habits. We have also taken great care to ensure that the technology has the bandwidth to work to its full capacity, so that we can successfully manage the supply and demand.”
Evgeny Kuzin, co-founder, Kitch-In.
The expansion plans are ambitious, but Kuzin says that the scope of Kitch-In knows no bounds, and the clientele the team aims to reach is “truly limitless.”. He says, “We plan to expand across the Middle East, Europe and America, before focusing on more niche markets, specifically through Accor hotels. Kitch-In is a value-added F&B project for consumers and the hospitality industry, with the capacity to expand to operational, corporate and educational sectors in any country worldwide.” He continues, “Kitch-In is the first and only F&B platform that has the capacity and technology to effectively monitor quality control across the entire ecosystem. This gives us the ability to scale each vertical quickly and skilfully, from the development of illustrious digital restaurant brands endorsed by celebrity chefs to efficient delivery. There is no limit to our scalability, and we have ambitious plans for a worldwide expansion.”
All of this may seem like lofty goals, but both Kuzin and Ani are no strangers to the entrepreneurial life, having launched businesses of their own to critical acclaim. Keen to consistently challenge themselves, this venture is yet another instance of them getting out of their comfort zones. Ani notes, “If we look at our circumstances as opportunities instead of obstacles, we can positively impact our mindsets.” Kuzin adds, “This is a completely new concept, both for me and the technological verticals that we are working on, so it has been a fascinating project since the beginning. With a physical venue or restaurant, our experience has given us a deep understanding of each project and we know what to expect. Kitch-In has given me the opportunity to use my skills and knowledge to explore new possibilities. The platform can be easily integrated into our daily lives, and I am really looking forward to seeing how it will help people, from hotel guests, to professionals, children, and families.”
It should be clear now that Ani and Kuzin are keen to disrupt the current status quo in the online delivery sector, and they are pulling out all the stops to realize this mission. “Entering the market with an entirely new, solution-focused technology is really exciting and I am looking forward to seeing how it will disrupt current trends and eating habits,” Kuzin says. “It will be great to be able to reach a wider audience through more accessible brands that maintain our approach to quality and consistency.”