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3 Major Takeaways from the SKS NKBA 30_30 Event in Napa

The past six months have been a whirlwind! From starting a business, landing my first projects, and establishing a reasonable work-travel-life cadence. I feel like Terminal C at Logan Airport is my second home and the folks at Dunkin know my coffee order by heart. The travel is so worth it because I truly enjoy the work I am doing.

I took a deep dive into some amazing content projects and I am super excited to share them with you (when I’m able)! In the meantime, I’ll share highlights from a recent trip to the LG Experience and Design Center in beautiful Napa Valley.

A little background first. In 2015 I was selected for the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) 30 Under 30 program. After receiving this honor, I joined 29 amazing kitchen and bath professionals at the industry kitchen and bath show (KBIS) in Las Vegas. At KBIS, the award recipients presented on trending industry topics. In the spirit of Vegas, my group chose “Entertaining You: Ideal kitchen selections for the refined socialite.”

Over the years, I was tangled up in the winding trajectory of my career. Although the 30’s have an ongoing Facebook thread (where I serve as the resident appliance encyclopedia), Napa was the first opportunity I had to reconnect with friends.

The trip was hosted by the NKBA and Signature Kitchen Suites, a new tech-forward luxury appliance brand from LG Electronics. When I got the invite, I was obviously excited to nerd-out with outstanding industry peers.

The new Experience & Design Center was a beautiful space and the team showed outstanding hospitality. Zach Elkin, SKS General Manager, was a great host.

As a side note, I first interviewed Elkin in 2015, where I featured his insights on luxury appliance selections in my NKBA presentation.

Elkin introduced me to William Cho, the CEO of LG North America. It was an honor to connect with Mr. Cho about how Signature Kitchen Suites is redefining functional luxury for the modern connected home.

In all, the experience was extremely well-organized and the content was thought-provoking and relevant. Here are some of my biggest takeaways:

Today’s Technacurian Expects Technology

Signature Kitchen Suites defined their ideal customer as the Technacurian. Elkin describes the Technacurian as experience-driven, socially conscious, successful Millenials and Gen-Xers with a passion for cooking. “This is also the first generation of tech-natives – they don’t look for technology as an option, they expect it. And they expect it to work.”

If you were to buy a mobile phone 20 years ago, the most interesting feature would be ringtone options. I recall sitting in the Verizon store with my little brother scrolling through the various beeps and buzzes. Today we have the world at our fingertips. I can buy anything, travel anywhere, and communicate with anyone with a few swipes or a simple voice command. Technology is improving at a rapid pace. Why should our homes remain the same?

Over 180 million people invested in some aspect of smart home technology in the past year. This number is up 80% from the year before. It’s critical that as home improvement professionals we embrace the shift and share that enthusiasm with our clients.

App integrations give appliances new life

Are you an adventurous eater but a timid cook? With today’s integrated appliances, you can learn to create all your favorite meals at home. “Smart appliances provide guard rails against failure in the kitchen” added Carley Knobloch, HGTV personality and lifestyle tech influencer. “[Smart appliances] make it easier to coordinate multiple recipes together.”

So go ahead and buy that expensive cut of steak! Your smart appliances will take the guesswork out and help you deliver exquisite results that will wow your palate.

But what if you already know how to cook? “There’s a shifting perception about smart. Our lives are busy and we are all in debt for time.” Knobloch adds, for the seasoned home cook, your smart “appliance becomes your sous chef through leveraging technology.”

Some of the app integrations out there are truly amazing. There are a lot of smart appliances out there and each manufacturer has a host of compatible apps that can give your cooking appliance a whole host of new features.

In the past, appliances had a variety of cooking modes. For example, you might have preset oven settings for popular foods like cookies, pizza, or turkey. These settings were simply a preset temperature and duration. Although they took some guesswork out of cooking, these settings did not account for confounding factors in preparation and ingredient ratios.

Kevin Brown, CEO and Co-Founder of the Innit culinary app also spoke to our group. Innit brings a new meaning to ‘farm to table’. Innit is a culinary app to help you shop for the right ingredients and create amazing meals. Every family cooks differently. With Innit, and your compatible smart appliance, you can select from recipes are tailored to your unique needs and preferences. Once you decide on a recipe, you can order the ingredients to be shipped to your home. Ready to cook? Receive step-by-step instructions on how to prepare your meal and let your appliance take care of the rest!

Beauty and functionality are not mutually exclusive

At this point it’s almost an industry cliche that LG appliances are a leading technology appliance brand. When we look beyond technology, there’s a tremendous opportunity to realize unexpected value. Signature Kitchen Suites appliances are a game changer, specifically when it comes to functional elegance, modern customer support, and seasoned problem solving.

Functional Elegance:

The first time I saw the Signature Kitchen Suites 48” professional range, the first phrase that came to mind was “functional elegance”. The style is clean, on trend, and comfortably transitional. Historically the professional range category was characterized by burner power and oven capacity. Features were minimal as to mimic a chef’s experience. Save the bells and whistles for the commodity products. In today’s day and age, that line of thinking is obsolete. Luxury consumers want the best, and when that means incorporating a product that can deliver culinary versatility and style, well you have a winner.

Photo Credit: SKS Appliances

The culinary versatility on the Signature Kitchen Suites award winning ranges blows my mind! The range top has a few configuration options to chose from, and they’re all amazing. In addition to versatile pro gas burners:

  1. Induction is the safest cooking surface. It’s easy to keep clean and can boil water in seconds.

  2. Chromium griddle is the best type of griddle for even temperature and easy clean-up.

  3. Sous Vide, is a French term for “under vacuum”. If you are unfamiliar with sous vide, do some research, it will change your life. Essentially you immerse your foods in a water bath heated to a consistent temperature for low-maintenance perfect results!

The 48” range has two ovens, a 30” true convection oven and an 18” convection steam oven.

  1. Convection steam ovens are also really amazing! Essentially they can be a regular dry heat oven, however with the optional addition of steam, you can add moisture. It’s a great product for the health conscious home chef looking to add moisture, and bring out flavor, color, and nutrients without adding oil or butter.

Modern Customer Support

In my career so far, I have interacted with hundreds of luxury consumers seeking to build their dream home. To earn business and build rapport it’s important to build a vision around positive memories a client will have in their new space. However, it’s also important to address potential problems a client might experience and to establish a way for them to get help should they need it.

Photo Credit: Signature Kitchen Suites

The team at Signature Kitchen Suites is prioritizing customer service. To provide stellar service, it’s crucial to build a network of service techs that are knowledgeable and ready to tend to luxury consumers’ needs. Appliances can break when you least expect them to. All Signature Kitchen Suites products have built-in remote diagnostics. This means the appliance can detect it’s own problem, notify you, and help the manufacturer take the guesswork out of appliance service.

Elkin provided a hypothetical example of a client with a SKS wine column. They live in California, yet they keep their expensive wine collection in their mountain home in Aspen. If the wine refrigerator temperature rises too high, the homeowners will receive a notification on their phone and can hopefully send someone over to save their collection before it’s too late.

Seasoned Problem Solving

It’s clear that Elkin and his team are seasoned experts in this field. They started with a clean slate. And from there, built a suite of appliances that are seriously outstanding.

In the past, replacing a built-in or integrated refrigerator was a difficult endeavor. Cutout requirements vary from brand-to-brand. It took a lot of guesswork to select a new refrigerator as the plug, and water connection needed to be in an exact location. By some crafty miracle, Signature Kitchen Suite’s columns are designed to fit flush, can be merged without an expensive heater kit, and have field-reversible doors. The cord is longer than most to reduce the chance a client will need an electrician on site for install.

Photo Credit: SKS Appliances

The Signature Kitchen Suites team listened to feedback from consumers, dealer partners, and industry experts to help solve a lot of industry headaches.

In Conclusion…

If you get the chance to visit the NAPA EDC I highly recommend it! Like I said, Napa is beautiful and the EDC team at LG is fantastic.

On a different note, It’s been about seven years since I graduated college and started working in the industry. As an educated, outspoken, and highly motivated female, success takes some serious grit.

To me, the most amazing opportunity was to reconnect with friends, old and new, from across North America. Six months ago I decided to work for myself and it’s the best decision I could have made. Reconnecting with the 30 Under 30 crew, it was reassuring to see how many of my peers took a similar risk and decided to pave their own way.

#Cooking #Luxury #Smart #Training


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