I recently went to the International Baking Industry Exposition in Las Vegas to spec equipment for a planned commissary for our bakery business here in New Orleans.

While I was indeed looking for some “next level” kind of stuff, I was not expecting robots and fully automated production lines with pass-through ovens boasting more interior space than my first apartment.

So in the event you are seeking to upgrade your kitchen, I humbly suggest the following appliances. They might be just what you need to give your remodel a little bit of pizzazz, and I can state with confidence that the Jones’ next door will be utterly incapable of keeping up with this stuff.

Unitherm “Tunnel of Fire” Flash Roasting Solution Tunnel Oven
At our bakery now we use a rotating rack oven that can cook 10 sheet pans of pastry goodness in a single bound. I thought that was kind of a big deal, until I saw this machine that basically looks like a cross between a Balrog and a nuclear bomb. Watching as raw turkeys were conveyed through its fiery maw only to emerge as golden brown nuggets of sliceable deliciousness on the other side made me feel very, very small and filled me with tunnel oven envy.

Diosna 401A Wendel Spiral Mixer with Hydraulic Lift
For our current bread program we use a 40-quart Hobart floor mixer. Again, when I bought the Hobart used for several grand back in the day I thought it was pretty fancy. Oh, how wrong I was. Does mine have a hydraulic lift? Nope. Can mine handle 800 pounds of dough in one batch? Nyet. At least the one I saw here would save me a cool $120,000 off the original retail price as it is fully “remanufactured” to the low, low tune of just $100,000. So it is a tossup — either this or a fully-equipped 2014 Range Rover.

Tromp Group Handling System
Perhaps I’ve been going about this bakery thing all wrong, what with using humans and all. Why not a complete and fully automated pastry solution? This top-of-the-line processing system includes loaders, unloaders, cooling and proofing components, tunnel ovens and depanners, as well as a continuous conveyor belt assembly. True, this gets away from our artisanal bakery roots, but with this method I don’t have to worry about whether our flakey 3:00 AM shift bread guy decided to stay in bed because of a touch of ennui. With this gear, I can be sure that production never stops. But if you have to ask what it costs, that probably means you can’t afford it.

AreoAsia Liquid Nitrogen Spiral Blast Freezer
I’d heard about this sort of thing but had assumed they were only found on high-tech Japanese “Factory” fishing ships where one would catch a big-eye tuna and — zappow — transform it into a 600-pound Ahi Popsicle in, like, 10 seconds. Boy, was I mistaken. Apparently you use these sorts of things for pastry as well, which made me feel a bit ignorant when this was pointed out to me, a bakery owner. My first thought, naturally, was whether this was the same model that Darth Vader used to freeze Han Solo in carbonite, but could not muster the cheek to ask this of the sales person. At this point he already knows I am stupid so I don’t want him to know I’m a dork as well.

Riehle ComJet Pretzel Lye Application Machine
Leave it to the Germans to come up with a fully mechanized contraption that basically sends innocent knots of harmless dough through a caustic waterfall of lye to transform them into pretzels, the trend du jour. True, this automated system is probably safer than our current method of equipping our employees with gloves, a slotted spoon, a bucket of lye and a liability waiver, but then again we can’t afford the price-tag for the real deal here. My hope is that when the pretzel fad fades the marketplace will the littered with these machines at bargain basement prices, which I foresee as the commercial equivalent of the Bread Maker craze of the 90s, when such appliances littered Salvation Army and thrift stores nationwide.dressed.

Cornucopia KN550 Ultimate High-Performance Encrusting Machine
Don’t snicker at the phrase “Encrusting Machine” – this is one cool customer. You know all those weird Japanese under-baked colorful pastry goo products you see in Asian grocery stores? You can make your own with this puppy. It fills buns, dumplings, Hello Kitty! miniature pies — you name it. Plus, per the brochure, it is “Ideal for Meat Products.” Order yours today. Oh wait, it costs how many million yen? How many hundreds of thousands of US dollars is that? Never mind.

PreGel Anything
I spent way too much time here because they were giving out free gelato samples. Not equipment, but a line of gelato and confection products that are basically, high-end shortcuts for luxury foodstuffs. Which are actually pretty cool and genuinely tasty. Among the finds was a Tiramisu kit where you just add water and poof! — instant fancy Italian dessert. Bring some of this on your next camping trip and be the talk of the campfire. What’s for dessert? S’mores? How gauche. Try this…

It is fun to drool over this stuff, even though in doing so I am in full acceptance that when time actually comes to pull out the checkbook I will be combing eBay and Craigslist for beat-up used gear that fits my actual budget. But hey, dreaming big is part of the reason to go to Vegas in the first place, right? Now excuse me while I go play my Lord of the Rings progressive slot in the hopes that I’ll hit the jackpot, which will pay out enough to purchase the commercial kitchen of my dreams.