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Culture

What Is Harbour Blue?

A signature color and a nod to our restaurant supply past, Harbour Blue is much like our Cookware: timeless, dependable, and quietly elegant.

By Rachel Robey
Feb 10, 2023
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As one of our signature colors, Harbour Blue is much like our Cookware: timeless, dependable, and quietly elegant. It’s a color you might actually find in a chef’s kitchen, whether now or 50 years ago. It’ll probably still be there 50 years from now, too. Across every product category, we’re intentional about crafting heirloom pieces that will outlast trendiness—Harbour Blue lives up to that.

But it’s also an allusion to Made In’s service industry roots. Since 1929, Harbour Food Service Equipment—the restaurant supply company Co-Founder and President Jake Kalick’s family still owns and operates, as well as Harbour Blue’s namesake—has been working in and alongside restaurants throughout Boston and New England. Before Made In, Jake spent summers working there, watching his father grow a business by refusing to sell customers anything other than the right tool for their restaurant. When Made In was officially founded by Jake and Chip Malt (our co-founder and CEO who is no less important!) in 2017, it was to make that same level of service and product available to home cooks.

Refined From 94 Years of Harbour Food Service Equipment

“Harbour started in its first form as General Store Fixtures, a bar outfitter my great-grandfather began in 1929,” says Jake. At the time it was more of a side hustle, until his son Philip—Jake’s grandfather—decided to make a career building bars and cigar boxes all over Boston.

“General Store Fixtures became Harbour Food Service Equipment when my dad, Harold, began working with my grandfather, Philip. Being very entrepreneurial, my dad decided that if they were already building the bars, booths, and cigar boxes, they should offer all of the other things that these venues buy—glassware, plates, pans, and a lot more.” Coincidentally, Harbour’s name was also a nod, this time to the Boston harbor, which is where the original Harbour Food Service Equipment warehouse (“My family actually lived in the first Harbour warehouse, right in the middle of downtown Boston! It was renovated into a townhouse.” –Jake) was located.

After taking over in the 70s, Harold expanded the business into engineering, building, and outfitting restaurants from start to finish. He custom fabricated long lines of high pressure jet burners for Chinatown restaurants wanting to upgrade their wok setups, and made Harbour one of the first AGA (a Swedish manufacturer of status-symbol ovens) distributor in the U.S. In all likelihood, he probably knows Boston restaurant kitchens at least as well as the staff.

Naturally, excellent taste and an encyclopedic knowledge of culinary manufacturing comes with strong opinions: “He won't work with you unless he can tell you what you have to buy,” Jake explains. “As you can imagine, he loses customers over that. But he’d rather that than feel like he sold someone the wrong tool for the job.” He has a point—after all, you wouldn’t tell a chef what to cook.

Our unofficial interpretation of Harbour’s ethos is “craftsmanship with integrity,” and it’s how Made In operates, too. Like our predecessor, we’re committed to giving you the right tool for every job, and when we earn your trust, we want to keep it. Given the family ties, you might think of Made In as the newest generation in a long lineage of cookware obsessives.

Made In Offers Professional Expertise to Home Cooks

“A lot about Made In’s product design is based on what I learned from Harbour. Even now, I can recite the 10-plus cookware brands they stock, what was good about them in terms of design, and what chefs didn’t like about them,” says Jake. Meanwhile, home cooks were more or less ambivalent about cookware brands, and cookware brands were busy price gouging home cooks. Made In was inspired by that, when Chip—Jake’s childhood best friend—suggested they team up to present home cooks with an alternative. (If you couldn’t tell, being a disruptor-era start-up is also unequivocally a part of Made In’s heritage.)

Through Harbour, Chip and Jake knew where and who crafted the best cookware in each category, so they reached out to ask: would they make it for Made In? Their relentless pursuit of perfection struck a chord, and those small manufacturers became our partners. The shared ethos allowed us to become the first and only company to offer our style of English-made, fully vitrified Plateware to home cooks—so meticulous and resilient is the craftsmanship, the artisans previously shared it only with restaurants. Ditto for our premium Italian Stainless Clad—the very first product that earned us our place in professional kitchens. Frankly, naming a signature color after Harbour seemed the least we could do.

Armed with the knowledge of what chefs appreciated and disliked about other cookware brands, we designed tools according to chef specifications. Then we asked those same chefs to be our beta testers—like any good dish that comes out of a restaurant kitchen, it’s a collaborative effort to make tools of this quality.

What Harbour Blue Means to Us

“Increasingly, provenance matters—customers want to know where meat, produce, recipes, and so on originate. There's never been much of that when it comes to kitchen tools,” says Jake. Because they’re so utilitarian, tools are often treated like they don’t have a history or perspective in the kitchen.

Harbour Blue is our counter to that, reminding us of the principle we inherited from our predecessor: craftsmanship with integrity. Like Harbour Food Service Equipment, that’s the promise we make at every step in the supply chain, but especially to our chef and home cook customers. That, in a nutshell, is what Harbour Blue means to us—and why we’re reflecting on our past while forging forward.