Located at Hope Artiste Village in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, E3 Commercial Kitchen Solutions was founded in 2010 to proudly serve as a manufacturers’ representative to the commercial foodservice equipment industry. The space operates as a test kitchen and showroom for visiting clients. While on-site, clients can test the exclusive lines of restaurant equipment with E3 Corporate Chef, Josh Hill.
E3 represents some of the best-in-class manufacturers such as Alto-Shaam, Southbend, Wells, APW Wyott and many more. We were lucky enough to have the opportunity to speak with Equipment Specialist, Joe McDonald, and Chef Josh to discuss their favorite attributes of the business.
Q&A with the Equipment Specialist, Joe McDonald
What is E3 Commercial Kitchen Solutions?
Joe describes E3 as a manufacturers’ representative firm that specializes in foodservice equipment. They cover the six New England states and promote and support the brands that the business represents. E3 and their employees work with end-users, and design consultants and dealers assist them with foodservice equipment solutions based on their applications.
When did the partnership with TriMark begin and what benefit did you envision at that time?
The TriMark and E3 partnership works exceptionally well because both parties have the same goals, like (Joe outlines) “As a manufacturers’ rep group, we have always done business with TriMark – going back to the days of just United East. The benefit we look for is a true partnership where both the dealer and representative look to support each other to provide the end-user with the best product for their needs. We work together to help identify what that piece of equipment might be, by understanding the client’s business – where they are today and where they want to be tomorrow.”
Why has the partnership with TriMark been a success?
The partnership has primarily been a success because it has always been a two-way street. Joe explains that E3 is often asked to get involved in equipment specifications and demonstrations at both the E3 test kitchen and TriMark Innovation Center in Boston. When TriMark leads with one of E3 manufacturers, we look to sell it based on its features and benefits, but most importantly because of how it fits the needs of our customer.
TriMark is not looking to sell something based on price because in that scenario “you often end up getting what you pay for”, Joe stresses. If a lower price is all you have to sell, then the business really doesn’t have much to offer. McDonald reiterates that “TriMark looks to understand the needs of the customer and match that with the best product possible. That approach is what makes our partnership work”.
What specifically is your job function at E3?
Along with partners Joe Burbine and Ken Lawler, McDonald is one of the principals of E3. His title is Equipment Specialist which entails understanding the needs of the end-user to find the best product that will meet those needs. Whether it is a dealer representative calling Joe for suggestions or working with them in the field, the common goal is to identify the product that can best support the final application. Understanding the goal of the operator is critical to whether E3 can be successful in the recommendations they make.
Another major part of Joe’s role includes being regularly involved with Chef Josh and the rest of the E3 team to run programs at their test kitchen. Their aim is to showcase and educate customers on either a specific product line or a group of lines and engage designers and consultants to emphasize product capabilities as well as the services that the E3 team can offer both pre-sale and post-sale. McDonald emphasizes the importance of product education so that people fully understand what the equipment can do and how it is essential to their success. The team spends a lot of time post-sale making sure the product is living up the consumer’s expectations. The primary goal is to see their end-users thrive and succeed.
What do you attribute to the ability of E3 to build a thriving workplace?
McDonald is proud and invested in the E3 business. He attributes the success of the business to “the team and always trying to keep it fun. We work together and always try to do what is right and best for anyone we work with. We play to each other’s strengths and are never afraid to hand something off to another team member if we think they are the best person to handle the job”, Joe says. “The team members at E3 are more than colleagues; we are friends who genuinely care about each other and our families. Our team takes a lot of pride in what we do and it’s a great feeling to know you always have someone watching out for you and they are there when you need them. The fun we have together makes the harder days a lot easier to get through. The people I work with make me better at what I do, and I cannot say enough about how much respect I have for all of them. We are a TEAM.”
Q&A with the Corporate Chef, Josh Hill
What are your primary responsibilities at E3?
Performing the role of Corporate Chef, Josh handles all the culinary aspects of E3 including trainings, demos and culinary classes. He works with clients to test drive equipment and troubleshoot cooking applications in order to achieve maximum menu efficiency. Josh focuses on collaborating and interacting with consumers to streamline complex procedures into user-friendly settings.
What aspects of the business makes it a rewarding place to work?
Hill finds E3 a rewarding place to work on a variety of levels. To start, the business has a commitment to excellence – for both themselves and their customers. Josh also takes pride in collaborating with chefs. He enjoys teaching them new and innovative approaches to cooking; this allows him to pass along the practices and skills he has learned throughout his career. Lastly, he highlights the changing dynamic of the industry. There are constantly new prospects engaging with E3, which allows Josh to continually meet new people, travel to new places and build lasting relationships.
What are a few of your favorite tools and products that are ‘must haves’ in the kitchen?
As a chef, it can be hard to distinguish between your favorite kitchen tools, however Josh has a few. He raves about Alto-Shaam’s newest technology – the Vector Multi-Cook Oven. This piece of equipment is so useful because it gives you the capability to cook 2, 3 or 4 diverse food products at the same time but with different cooking intervals, temperatures and fan speeds. The highlight to the vector oven is that while all the food is cooking there is absolutely no flavor transfer.
Combi ovens are another fan-favorite for Josh. The advantage to this product is the capability to cook food items 50% faster with much more accuracy. He believes this is a must-have for everyone in the industry. Lastly, Josh told us that a sharp knife is a necessity in the kitchen as it has so many useful purposes.
Is there a meal that you most especially love to make with customers?
For Hill, the meal of choice to make for customers is braised short ribs. When asked why, he said, “because you are taking a poor cut of meat, searing it and slow braising to make it moist, tender and delicious!” and honestly, we couldn’t agree more.
Are there any industry trends that people should keep an eye out for?
There are a few industry trends most present right now that Chef Josh thinks will be beneficial for foodservice operators to watch for. First, gluten-free cooking is growing in popularity. Consumers are changing lifestyles and increasing their consciousness of eating healthier food options. In order to adhere to this trend, it would be in the best interest of those working in the food industry to incorporate gluten-free cooking. This expands options for consumers when eating at an establishment, giving them reasons to regularly return for more.
Another trend Josh introduced to us was dehydration. This is an up-and-coming trend that he has seen a lot of recently. Many chefs are dehydrating foods such as corn, beets, peaches and potatoes to turn them into powders for cooking. This process is the most nutritious way to preserve food and the powders can be used in a variety of ways. Josh gives the example that potato powder can be used for gluten-free cooking instead of cornstarch. Optimizing this trend could expand a chef’s cooking techniques.
Lastly, Josh sees sous-vide as a major trend in the industry. Sous-vide, the French word for “under vacuum”, is also known as low temperature long time (LTLT) cooking. This method is where food is placed in a plastic pouch or glass jar and cooked in a water bath for longer than usual cooking times, ranging from 1 to 7 hours but up to 48 hours or more in some cases at an accurately regulated temperature. The temperature is much lower than usual – typically around 131 to 140°F (55-60°C) for meat and higher for vegetables. The intent of the process is to cook the product evenly, ensuring that the inside is properly cooked without over-cooking the outside. This cooking strategy retains moisture, making the food much more tender.
See the E3 operations for yourself: www.e3ne.net