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Saltalk turns up the heat on its virtual kitchen following new $8M cash infusion

Saltalk closed on $8 million of Series A financing to continue developing its authentic cuisine, made by restaurant chefs and home cooks.

  • Posted on 20th Jun, 2022 14:03 PM
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Saltalk turns up the heat on its virtual kitchen following new $8M cash infusion Image

Saltalk, a virtual kitchen and e-commerce platform, closed on $8 million of Series A financing to continue developing its one-two punch of authentic cuisine, made by both restaurant chefs and home cooks, and food supply resources and logistics.

Founder and CEO Fred Ming, previously a software architect, got the idea for Saltalk a few years after relocating from China. He and his wife went out to dinner at a restaurant that served a meal that reminded Ming’s wife of home.

“My wife told me the meal made her homesick, which gave me an idea to cure it by building a platform that gets chefs from everywhere to come and cook for those away from home,” he told TechCrunch.

From that plan became Saltalk, which he started in 2017. The company’s name is a mixture of “salt,” an important spice for cooking, and “talk,” which he said “is essential for our lives.”

Four years later, the company’s 8,000-square-foot virtual kitchen is churning out orders from Saltalk’s website, which features over 200 dishes.

Virtual kitchens don’t have dine-in facilities or the costs associated, which typically means they yield higher profit margins. The industry is hot right now and goes by other names, like dark kitchen, cloud kitchen or ghost kitchen, and involves having space in a central location where chefs whip up their culinary creations and have them delivered.

The global virtual kitchen market was valued at just over $43 billion in 2019 and is poised to grow to $71.4 billion by 2030, according to Statista figures. That compares to a trillion-dollar food industry.

As the food delivery industry grew over the past 2 years, these types of kitchens also gained attention as we ate more from home during the pandemic. It not only provided restaurants a way to have online ordering capabilities without changing their own kitchens, but in some respects it also enabled them to experiment with small-batch cooking of some of their more popular menu items. In addition, when restaurants were laying off staff, it provided an outlet for chefs to supplement their income while creating their own menus.

Investors were not far behind, pumping some $545 million of venture-backed funding into just the U.S.-based virtual kitchens in 2020, according to Food On Demand. TechCrunch has been along for the ride, most recently reporting on The Food Lab in Egypt and Manila-based MadEats.

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