Port inventor takes gadget on ‘Shark Tank’

Port inventor takes gadget on ‘Shark Tank’

While working in restaurants, Lisa Fetterman said, she saw chefs using a device called an immersion circulator to cook with the sous vide method, and she wanted one for herself.

“I saw that they used this huge, hunky piece of lab equipment and they were thousands of dollars,” she said.

Sous vide is a type of cooking in which food is placed in a vacuum-sealed pouch and placed in water with an immersion circulator that regulates the water temperature and cooks the ingredients equally.

Fetterman, who grew up in Port Washington and now lives in San Francisco, and her husband, Abe, developed an affordable sous vide immersion circulator in 2010, and began selling it after two successful Kickstarter campaigns, which helped launch their company, Nomiku.

On Dec. 2, Fetterman appeared on ABC’s “Shark Tank,” where she and Abe presented their business plan to investors and received $250,000 from investor Chris Sacca for a 10 percent stake in the business.

After graduating from New York University with a degree in journalism and a short stint in the field, Fetterman began working in restaurants, landing a job under chef Mario Batali by asking him for work in Italian.

“I went up to him and asked him for a job in Italian, which I speak fluently, and he was impressed and gave me a chance,” she said.

Fetterman said she has always enjoyed cooking and would go to the Port Washington Public Library and check out a cookbook and cook every recipe in it.

“I cooked out the entire book,” she said. “Then I cooked out the entire shelf of cookbooks at the library.”

After discovering the sous vide machine, Fetterman decided that, with the help of her husband, who has a Ph.D. in astrophysics, she would make an affordable, easy-to-use immersion circulator, she said.

Raising over $1.3 million in two Kickstarter campaigns — $600,000 in the first 30 days of the first campaign — Fetterman moved to China to learn about manufacturing the product.

“We learned how to set up a line, do manufacturing engineering and how the manufacturing system works,” Fetterman said.

The product is currently selling on Nomiku’s website for $249.99 and through Williams-Sonoma.

Nomiku also is producing the first WiFi-connected immersion circulator.

Currently being manufactured in San Francisco, Fetterman said, about 500 immersion circulators are made each week, and Nomiku has sold units in the “tens of thousands.”

“We’ve had a lot of growth since ‘Shark Tank,’ too,” she said.

When the product was being developed, “Shark Tank” asked the couple to be on the show, Fetterman said, but she didn’t think they were ready.

“We contacted them later and asked if they were still interested and made it on,” she said.

Fetterman said sous vide cooking with an immersion circulator “opens the door to so much cooking” and makes cooking at home easier.

“It’s all about temperature, and heat is the secret ingredient when cooking,” she said. “It’s very easy to use at home and is perfect for steaks and meats and can be used for so many things. Literally all you do is put ingredients in a bag and dip it in the water. There’s no other action involved.”

Fetterman also wrote a cookbook, “Sous Vide at Home,” which outlines the best recipes for the cooking method, such as steak and duck confit and deep-fried egg yolks.

Crediting the Port Washington School District for her education, Fetterman said, she was always taught to think differently in school.

“My parents still live in Port Washington and I love the town,” she said. “I would love to write another book and sign copies in the Dolphin bookshop,” she said.

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