SideChef, a smart kitchen app and software platform startup, is growing its executive ranks.

I learned this week that the company is adding execs from both Anova and Vitamix in an expansion of its core team. The company, which is based in Shanghai, China, recently added Anova’s former head of retail, Michael Tankenoff, as head of a new west coast US office focused on business development and strategic partnerships. The company has also hired Ken Zhang, an engineer that had previously worked on Vitamix’s smart kitchen initiatives, to help lead its product management efforts.

I caught up with Tankenoff and SideChef CEO Kevin Yu this week. They explained that the executive expansion is part of a bigger push by SideChef to position the company as a smart kitchen platform and compete with the likes of Innit and Drop.

“I will be focused on continuing to build out [SideChef’s] portfolio of hardware, content, and other partners — as well as help build and scale the marketing arm of the organization,” said Tankenoff. “This comes in conjunction with opening up an office here in San Francisco, which will be the hub for all business development and marketing moving forward.”

These types of moves in a nascent market like the smart kitchen platform space — where everyone knows everyone — are hardly unusual. We saw it with Orange Chef, Whirlpool and Innit, and now we’re seeing with SideChef. While Tankenoff’s departure from Anova is not surprising given the company was acquired last year by Electrolux, the move by Zhang is a bit more intriguing. Zhang worked on the smart kitchen initiative that was led by Vitamix COO Tony Ciepiele, who I also recently learned has left Vitamix as of March to become CEO of toy company Step2 Discovery.

The executive shuffle also comes at a time of increased competition between software startups like SideChef and Innit to provide foundational software platforms for appliance makers to create connected kitchen products, as well as increased focus by big players like Google and Amazon to hook their natural language smart home platforms into the appliance market.

Should be an interesting rest of 2018 in the smart kitchen market.

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