Automation and Excitement Abound as Zakharenko Takes Middleby Marshall Reins

CTX Middleby Marshall
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Middleby Marshall, a cornerstone division of the Middleby Corporation with a focus on innovative conveyor cooking technology, has a new president. With that change has come a redoubled determination to offer operators the best product available. At the helm, Max Zakharenko is determined to confront the unique challenges facing restaurants today and offer technologically forward products that promise operators efficiency with the promise of consistent culinary quality.

Max Zakharenko President Middleby Marshall
Max Zakharenko, President,
Middleby Marshall

“When I started at Middleby in 2012 we had only 40 brands and had just entered the residential market,” Zakharenko said, looking back at his early career with the Middleby corporate team. “Today there are more than 100 brands in three highly-respected business platforms. Despite this growth, our culture has not changed with a continued focus on innovation, an open forum for ideas and creativity. I’m proud that despite expansion over the past decade, Middleby Marshall continues to operate like and uphold the values of a smaller company. With our growth has come positive momentum and I am truly excited to continue my journey within Middleby in this new role surrounded by the best people in the industry.”

The Middleby Corporation supports dozens of innovative brands that address today’s challenges in the restaurant and foodservice industry. One brand Zakharenko oversees, CTX, has focused on the automated baking and grilling process since the mid 1980s. In the current restaurant environment, the CTX conveyor technology is now at the forefront of oven innovation and central to Zakharenko’s efforts and commitment to streamlining food production and addressing labor challenges.

According to Zakharenko, “We want to revolutionize how food is cooked across the nation. The CTX oven (pictured at top) really automates the entire back of the house. You can take away the charbroiler, the griddle, the flat top, and automate that whole process.”

By maximizing kitchen efficiency, the CTX takes aim at the labor issues confronting the industry today. “Finding, training and retaining workers in the current market has become extremely challenging and labor costs are quickly rising,” he explained. “With the CTX, operators not only save physical space and reduce energy cost but most importantly the skilled labor can be reallocated to more value added tasks. Ask any foodservice operator, they say their greatest challenge is finding and securing labor, and we believe the CTX is a game changer that has been established in various concepts already.”

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By utilizing clean infrared heat in four zones in extremely high temperatures, food can be cooked consistently and properly to a standard of quality. Food can be cooked in half the time and to a consistent and outstanding quality.

“So if I throw a piece of chicken on the grill at home, I rarely cook it the same way twice. On my grill the final product is either great, or burnt and dry — It’s always a challenge,” Zakharenko said with a smile. “In just seven minutes, with a specifically set belt speed, the CTX oven cooks chicken perfectly every time. Ticket times can be cut in half and the food is consistently of outstanding quality. The oven does a terrific job on all proteins, and new customers are always impressed with the results. By the way, the CTX never calls in ‘sick’”

With the tremendous demand for take-out and delivery meals and ghost kitchens, gaining popularity throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, food production has to be faster than ever and typically, it has to be made in smaller kitchens. The CTX lineup of products are determined to meet this shifting demand with state-of-the-art innovation.

“Most ghost kitchens have a reduced footprint, so our products have really focused on the ability to prepare high quality product in half the traditional space,” Zakharenko continued. “We’ve paired a CTX oven with a Pitco fryer and Blodgett Combi Oven and most operators are able to run 100% of their menu with those three pieces of equipment. Establishments have the same production capacity as a full-scale kitchen but with less than half of the equipment.”

The Middleby Marshall future recipe for success will be led by Zakharenko and his proven, long-tenured team as they continue to introduce new, innovative solutions to the foodservice market. To accomplish their mission, Team Middleby is determined to spearhead change throughout the restaurant industry with creative, efficient products that feature state of the industry technology and innovation.

For more information about Middleby Marshall, please visit their website.

  • Simplot Frozen Avocado
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  • Inline Plastics Safe-T-Chef
  • McKee Foodservice
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  • RATIONAL USA
  • T&S Brass Eversteel Pre-Rinse Units
  • BelGioioso Burrata
  • AyrKing Mixstir