WOLF-SUB ZERO : A FAMILY STORY

   A family owned business since 1945

A family owned business since 1945

This September, I had the good fortune of being invited to visit the Sub Zero & Wolf factories in Wisconsin.  I absolutely love factory visits. They remind me of my childhood visits to my father’s print shop.  I remember the smell of fresh ink on paper and at such a young age I was impressed with the sound of the presses and the movement of the palettes being transported with such ease by the machinery.

 Hence, it was with great pleasure that I accepted this invitation.  My fellow coworker, Patrizia, and I were off to discover this company and see what they were all about.  Upon arriving at the company’s headquarters in Madison, we encountered about fifty designers that traveled far and wide from within North America to join the tour.  We were told that at Sub Zero and Wolf, we would eat our fill and we would be accompanied by people whose sense of hospitality has no limits.  I assure you that we were not disappointed! 

My first impression was marked by the vast and fertile territory that surrounds the factories.  Wisconsin and its beautiful countryside set the tone for our Subzero adventure.

   A faraway view of one of the Subzero/Wolf plants.

A faraway view of one of the Subzero/Wolf plants.

A two-day tour:

 After serving us a copious breakfast, Joel Chesebro,the company’s in-house chef, gave the first presentation during our information session.  ‘From farm to table’ was the essence of his message : “Our appliances allow you to conserve freshness and to cook the food properly. The proof can be found in your plate”.  A concise and effective message that strikes the heart of the philosophy that has driven this family-owned company for three generations.

   “From farm to table” The in-house chef, Joel Chesebro, speaks with such gusto about the different varieties of plants amid the Sub Zero garden.     

“From farm to table” The in-house chef, Joel Chesebro, speaks with such gusto about the different varieties of plants amid the Sub Zero garden. 

   Fridge & freezer from the new integrated collection.

Fridge & freezer from the new integrated collection.

   Steam oven & convection oven, the best of both worlds!      “I think the biggest thing I’ve learned is that we always have to have innovation in our blood. We always need to keep our products moving forward, ahead of the competition. Whether it’s with design, whether it’s with technology, with performance, reliability, customer service – you’ve always got to keep innovating and moving forward. That’s what makes our future so bright.”              -    James Blakke

Steam oven & convection oven, the best of both worlds!

“I think the biggest thing I’ve learned is that we always have to have innovation in our blood. We always need to keep our products moving forward, ahead of the competition. Whether it’s with design, whether it’s with technology, with performance, reliability, customer service – you’ve always got to keep innovating and moving forward. That’s what makes our future so bright.”              -James Blakke

The subsequent hours proved to be very informative. We learned that James Bakke, the founder’s grandson, had the brilliant idea during the recent recession to invest massively in research and development in order to further the future of his company.  They developed and perfected their ‘integrated’ line of refrigeration and their ‘E’ ovens were also perfected largely due to this investment.  Their ultimate goal is to design and produce a simplified and sleek line of refrigeration, induction cooktops, ovens (convection and steam) and soon a new dishwasher named ‘Cove’, without compromise.  The quality that is synonymous with the Sub Zero and Wolf names are a priority.  While visiting the showroom, I was stuck by how impeccable the products really are but what really impressed me was how the products are tested, retested and re-retested so that once they are delivered to the client, they are certain to be without fault.  The strength of this brand relies heavily on the quality of their products and this, in turn, amply justifies the investment.

   Integrated fridges, come and see them in our showroom!

Integrated fridges, come and see them in our showroom!

The factory visits were interspersed with cooking demonstrations by the in-house chefs in order for us to familiarize ourselves with the appliances and learn the chefs’ secrets!

   Justin Thorpe, in-house chef, preparing the gluten free carbonara pasta!       Cooking lessons using  the famous Wolf French Top cooking surface.

Justin Thorpe, in-house chef, preparing the gluten free carbonara pasta!

 Cooking lessons using  the famous Wolf French Top cooking surface.

   The grilled scallop, prepared on the infrared griddle.

The grilled scallop, prepared on the infrared griddle.

   Brown butter and hazelnut cake, crème fraîche and apple confit.  All prepared with the Wolf convection oven and the gas cooktop.

Brown butter and hazelnut cake, crème fraîche and apple confit.  All prepared with the Wolf convection oven and the gas cooktop.

*I will give you a few of these tips at the end of this post*

It is through the food that we got to eat (and eat and eat and eat) that we discovered the heightened sensibility and respect that the Sub Zero company has for the local soil and regional flavors.  In order to maintain the freshness of their ingredients, a large scale vegetable garden and beehive is located near the factory facilities.  This allows the chefs to draw ingredients directly from the soil, thus ensuring the exceptional freshness of their dishes.

   Bordered by edible flowers, the vast garden and its greenhouse filled with tomato varieties are a dream come true for James Bakke.

Bordered by edible flowers, the vast garden and its greenhouse filled with tomato varieties are a dream come true for James Bakke.

This ‘farm to table’ concept is pushed even further as they integrate a new barn near their factory facilities to allow for even more reception space.  The intention is to give more space to their clients to enjoy the Sub Zero/Wolf experience and this is driven by their “Cook more, learn more” motto.

Throughout the information sessions, we were encouraged to write down our questions and comments on the products in order to have an exchange with the design, marketing, customer service and sales managers at the end of our stay.  This discussion quickly turned into a sort of focus group between the designers and the appliance specialists.  They were very receptive to all the comments and we really had a sense that they genuinely wanted to be in touch with what the consumer had to say.

 I was charmed by this visit as well as by the company’s philosophy, which reflects precisely the function of their mission, ‘It’s all about cooking’.  Sub Zero/Wolf delivers the best tools to conserve and cook in order for us to deliver the best of our own culinary know-how!  The purchase of these appliances may not be for every wallet, but the investment is definitely worth it in the long run!

"If you build a quality product, you will always have customers " 
Westye F. Bakke
   Wolf / Sub Zero, Madison, Wisconsin

Wolf / Sub Zero, Madison, Wisconsin

If you wish to enjoy the Sub Zero/Wolf experience in Montreal, a brand new showroom has opened up in Griffintown.    You can familiarize yourselves with their brand and meet with specialists that will be delighted to share the secrets of the products.

Sub Zero / Wolf : 1011 rue Wellington, Montréal

Tips from the chef : Joel Chesebro

 3 excellent reasons to use your oven on the CONVECTION setting:

  •  Cooking speed, reduce your heat by 25 °C from the standard setting. 
  • Ensures better tasting food. 
  • Removes humidity, which renders the food more crispy.

*except for small breads and custards

The best way to cook food to optimize TASTE:

  • Preheat the pan on high heat without any fatty liquids added to the pan.
  • Add the oil, preferably cold, once the pan is nice and hot.
  • Sear the meat without moving the food around in the pan. 

This technique allows the water that is produced from the heated food to evaporate.

Brigitte B_

Brigitte BoulangerComment