A chef works the Berkel slicer on capicola at a restaurant in Denver. Twitter is auctioning off the same high-end slicer.
The auction listings read like the inventory of a Michelin-starred restaurant: A $20,000 rotisserie oven. A $18,500 dehydrator. A $16,000 specialty meat and cheese machine known as “the Lamborghini of slicers.” Electric Vegetable Cutter
But it’s not a fine-dining restaurant selling off used equipment. It’s one of the world’s most famous tech companies.
Twitter launched an online auction on Tuesday, selling everything from dry erase boards to a statue of Twitter’s blue bird logo (bidding starts at $30,500). Word quickly spread in the Bay Area restaurant community that the auction included desirable restaurant equipment at heavily discounted prices, including super high-end, specialty items.
Spencer Horovitz, a chef formerly at San Francisco’s Itria and Oakland’s Slug, was surprised at the level of culinary machinery that had apparently been used to make free food for employees at Twitter’s San Francisco office. Some things make sense, like the multiple espresso machines or heavy duty blenders, he said. But why would a tech company need a spinning gyro machine, like the ones used to make shawarma, or the fancy Berkel meat slicer, which sells new for over $16,000? Or a massive Mongolian-style barbecue grill?
“This could be an episode on ‘Silicon Valley,’” Horovitz said, referring to the hit HBO show. “What other auction is there in the world where you can get Eames chairs in the same breath as a new Hobart mixer?” (An Eames chair, an iconic piece of furniture in the design world, goes for upwards of $1,000; Hobart mixers are heavy duty, long-term investments that cost as much as $27,000.)
The auction comes as Twitter, which Elon Musk acquired in a $44 billion deal last October, laid off about half of the company.
Horovitz was also shocked by the auction’s low prices. It seems like whoever set the bids isn’t familiar with the value of the cooking tools, or is willing to get rid of everything as cheaply as possible, he said. Chef friends who are opening their own restaurants and looking for good deals planned to bid on numerous items, Horovitz said. (Personally, he would have gone for a gas range or drawer freezer to store hand-filled pasta, but doesn’t have anywhere to store them.)
But to Horovitz, the Twitter auction represents more than just good deals for budget-strapped chefs. It’s “a powerful window into the excessive spending at Twitter” and a reflection of dining trends.
“It just speaks to corporate excess: ‘It doesn’t matter what we buy; let’s just buy the best version of it,’ which I think is a problem in San Francisco in general and restaurant culture as well,” Horovitz said. “Dining culture is so influenced by the trickle down theory of fine dining. It leads to things like this.”
Here are five of the biggest-ticket cooking items from the Twitter auction sale and their approximate starting bidding prices (the auction was set to end late Wednesday morning.)
Berkel 330M-STD Manual Fly Wheel Slicer (bids starting at $7,250)
This bright red, manual slicer is made by an acclaimed century-old company in Ohio, and known for slicing premium cuts of meat like $1,500 Iberico ham, Horovitz said. (Founder W.A. Van Berkel is credited with creating the first-ever meat-slicing machine.) It’s the kind of fancy equipment that restaurants keep on their bars or in an open kitchen to show off to customers.
Rotisol France 1400.8PG Rotisserie (bids starting at $1,150)
This is the kind of heavy-duty rotisserie oven used to churn out hundreds of roasted chickens, like at Costco or Souvla, the Bay Area’s hit fast-casual Greek chain. Normally, it sells for about $20,000. Bids were already over $10,000 by Wednesday morning.
Excalibur Professional ED-2COMM Dual Zone Commercial Dehydrator (bids starting at $4,600)
It’s hard to imagine what purpose a commercial dehydrator served at Twitter. “What would they need to dehydrate? Are they going to make their own jerky in house?” Horovitz asked.
EVO Affinity 30GP Display Cooking Station (bids starting at $2,700)
This circular grill is not often seen beyond Mongolian barbecue restaurants, where staff cook meats and vegetables to order on the massive grill. Perhaps it was once a Tuesday lunch special at the office?
American Range AVCB-2 Gas Gyro Broiler (bids starting at $650)
For anyone opening a shawarma restaurant, this is a major deal. This gyro machine can cost as much as $4,000 and has up to 80-pound meat capacity. It and many of the other high-end cooking items in the auction look like they were purchased new, Horovitz said, “which very few restaurants have the luxury of doing.”
Elena Kadvany (she/her) is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @ekadvany
Dorm Fridge With Freezer Elena Kadvany joined The San Francisco Chronicle as a food reporter in 2021. Previously, she was a staff writer at the Palo Alto Weekly and its sister publications, where she covered restaurants and education and also founded the Peninsula Foodist restaurant column and newsletter.