We’ve watched NRA’s Kitchen Innovations program grow up, and its 2011 crop of honorees do their suppliers, and the industry, proud.
By: The Editors
Now it its seventh year, the Kitchen Innovations program run by the National Restaurant Association continued to gain momentum in 2011, bringing us 22 products to ooh and aah over when we visited the KI pavilion at last year’s NRA Show.
Perhaps more importantly, the KI program is now firmly established as “The One to Watch.” More than 125 products have worn the KI medal over the last six years.
As for trends in the ‘11 KI program, you’ll see below that waste-heat recovery is becoming all the rage, and anything that saves time and energy for a kitchen crew is big, too. The items below offer especially advanced technologies for ventilation and warewashing, plus new features in cooking, cleaning, holding and even blending. Each honored item met specific criteria, including the use of state-of-the-art solutions to enhance productivity, save energy and water, speed prep and cook times, and maximize space and functionality back of house.
As always, the independent KI judging panel played a key role in sorting out the many entries received, and last year the panel welcomed a new member: Jim Krueger Jr., chief of F&B research and development, Air Force Services Agency HQ AFSVA. He joined other long-time judges Dan Bendall, principal, FoodStrategy; Martin Cowley, senior manager design and standards, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts; William Eaton, chairman, Cini-Little Int’l.; Robert Forrester, principal, Restaurant Industry Solutions; Foster Frable Jr., founding partner, Clevenger Frable LaVallee; Aaron LaMotte, director, Sodexo Performance Interiors; Robert Marshall, v.p., U.S. operations, McDonald's Corp.; and Kathleen Seelye, managing partner, Ricca Newmark Design.
Read on for a refresher on last year’s KI honorees—run here alphabetically—and we’ll see you at the KI Pavilion in May at Chicago’s McCormick Place. You can find more info online at restaurant.org/show.
20 BASES, ONE WARMER
Attention, healthcare operators: Cambro can heat up to 20 hot bases at a time in 4 mins. in its 208V Camduction Complete Heat System. Forget about induction-charging one base at a time (and needing a spare charger in case the first goes out). Cambro’s unit relies on conduction rather than induction, and its proprietary core material holds the heat for a full hour. Each of the 20 ports is independent of the others, so no worries about one port’s failure taking out the rest. Indicator lights tell you when each base is charged, changing from red to green. Choose bases in a wide assortment of colors.
Cambro Mfg. Co. * 800/854-7631
FIRE SAFETY FIRST
Super sophisticated controls and diagnostics make CaptiveAire’s CORE Protection Fire System a great insurance investment. UL 300 listed, the system offers remote real-time monitoring and boasts its own dedicated water line and 2-gal. surfactant tank (1 gal. provides 15 mins. of continuous surfactant injection.) The system never lets the level go below 1 gal. For fire detection, the system is electronic rather than a fusable link. The manufacturer listing says you can use CORE to cover up to 16’ of cookline, but up to 12’ is the optimal recommendation. Two 12V batteries run diagnostics that monitor everything from water-flow-valve operation to proper seating of pressurizing cartridge (without it, you don’t have a fire suppression system). And monitoring’s not just local; corporate can ensure the fire systems are in working order at units systemwide over the Internet.
CaptiveAire * 800/334-9256
MINI COMBI DOES IT ALL
Cleveland knows space is at a premium in the kitchen and has come up with a simple, elegant way to double production in the same footprint. The Convotherm Mini 2in1 with Easy ToUCH controls gives you a single control panel to separately operate two stacked 3-pan combis in one 20.3”-wide space. Use each oven independently to cook a variety of items; shut one down early for cleaning toward shift’s end and keep cooking out of the other. Minis bake, grill, roast, “fry,” poach and steam to accommodate any menu item or menu change. Single Minis, in 3- and 5-pan capacities are available, as well; they take half-size sheets and 12” x 20” hotel pans, 2½” deep.
Cleveland/Manitowoc * 800/338-2204
WE’LL TAKE IT FREESTYLE
Would you like to expand your beverage offerings but are short on storage? No worries. The Coca-Cola Company Freestyle machine lets customers choose from more than 100 carbonated and noncarbonated soft drinks and juices and lets them mix and match shots of as many as they like to create totally custom beverages. How do so many beverages fit in one machine? Microdosing technology blends one or more concentrated ingredients in packets with water and sweetener at the point where the beverage is dispensed; the system avoids the use of traditional 5-gal.-bag-in-box syrup. Integrated ice machine, digital push button control and irresistible graphics will help you sell more product.
The Coca-Cola Co. * 800/438-2653
HOT CABINET WORKS INDOORS AND OUT
Cres Cor’s HotCube3 runs on radiant heat when plugged in and 8,000Btus of propane heat when it’s running in the field (think 8 hrs. of hot holding in the courtyard, at the lake or in the party tent). In the field, an optional solar panel kicks in to charge a battery to keep LED displays and controls operating for 8 hrs. to 10 hrs. Cres Cor construction (3/4 size hot cabinet), rugged bumpers and 8” semi-pneumatic tires handle rough terrain, traveling over gravel, grass, walkways, you name it. Comes with nine sets of universal pan angles to fit an assortment of pan sizes and depths and hold them steady on the move.
Cres Cor * 877/273-7267
LET YOUR CLEANING SERVICE GO
Ecolab Cleaning Caddy has everything your employees need to keep up with restroom cleaning on a regular basis. Onboard, you get disinfectant, glass cleaner and floor cleaner along with a 13½ -gal. water tank. With a turn of a dial, solution feeds into a battery-charged sprayer (90-psi spray pressure, 4 hrs. per charge). Spray down counters, fixtures, tile walls and floor with disinfectant and let it sit. Then do the mirror with glass cleaner and squeegee (included). Next, switch to water for a final spray down. Workers use an additional surface squeegee to run everything to the floor. Then switch the sprayer to floor cleaner to finish the job. Caddy includes deck brush for scrubbing tough spots on the floor and your choice of an onboard wet vacuum (plugs in) or floor squeegee for a low-tech quick dry. If you’re hiring an outside service for $50 even once a week to clean your restrooms, this unit can pay for itself in less than half a year.
Ecolab * 800/352-5326
SIMPLIFY WITH AN EASY WAREWASHER
Save water, save energy, simplify maintenance. The Apex Conveyor, in 44” or 66” lengths, uses 0.6 gals./rack. A high-heat unit that runs on 80% cold water input. A top-mounted heat exchanger captures waste heat to give incoming 50°F water a 70°F rise. The Apex will save you labor on top of energy with an automatic wash tank dump-and-fill during operation. With no operator input, the wash tank will dump and refill a third of the tank automatically every 2 hrs. without interrupting the wash cycle. At the end of the day, the machine completes a self-cleaning cycle with the push of a button (just empty scrap trays). Tank completely drains, refills, pump-circulates fresh water throughout machine, drains again and shuts off. Using the same process, the pump circulates Lime Away for a fully automatic deliming process, sending agent throughout the machine, heat exchanger and wash tank, and then out through the spray arms (self-cleaning mode kicks in after). The cycle takes an hour, but no one needs to be there for it. The Apex is rated at 200 racks/hr.
Ecolab * 800/352-5326
ULTRAVIOLET MADE ULTRA EASY
Franke’s EcoVent Exhaust Air Cleaner taps into the power of ozone created by ultraviolet light to scrub greasy exhaust air. And bonus: The self-contained unit houses the bulb outside the vent in its own specially designed box, eliminating the usual maintenance issues with bulbs mounted inside the duct. In EcoVent, the ozone feeds directly into the upper ductwork, so the bulb is never directly exposed to grease particulates; it stays clean and untouched. Proven in restaurants and through independent third-party lab testing, the system gives you about 65% odor reduction and 50% grease reduction in conjunction with a high-efficiency filter such as the Franke Cascade filter. Unit connects to a standard 120V outlet and only pulls 1.2 amps. The UVC light bulb will last about 10,000 hours, or one to two years (depending on hours of operation). Replacement bulbs cost around $400.
Franke Foodservice Systems * 888/437-2653
RECLAIM THAT HEAT!
Proximity is the key word in Halton’s UL listed, patent-pending Heat Reclaim Proximity Hood. When flue gasses come off the appliance, they’re about 800°F to 900°F. By capturing that heat with a heat exchanger and piping it through copper tubing to the water heater, the system delivers upwards of 200°F of heat directly into the water tank feed. That means your water heater only has to work about 30% of the time, according to the company. System can be set up to capture heat off gas flues from multiple appliances along the line. The capture process takes place behind the exhaust plenum, so the exchanger is never exposed to cooking grease or effluents. A typical QSR can reduce hot water gas consumption by as much as 60%, the maker figures.
http://www.haltoncompany.comHalton Co.http://www.haltoncompany.com * 270/237-5600
A HOOD WITH A SENSE OF STYLE
Is your gorgeous display cookline marred by ugly exhaust hoods overhead? Halton’s Jet Extraction System provides an attractive and powerful way to extract effluent and actually add to the aesthetic of the design. For use over electric equipment only, the JES uses sleek stainless steel tubes to create a cyclonic pull, drawing exhaust up through the exhaust plenum and then up to a traditional Type I hood, which can be installed out of sight. The plenum is installed to provide easy access to filters and grease cup, and the company can powder coat it to any color. The bottoms of the JES tubes attach to tempered safety-glass shields that hang horizontally over the cook line. You can choose glass in 2’ (1-tube), 4’ (2-tube) and 6’ (3-tube) lengths. Glass comes with Ansul system nozzle openings already cut out. LED lights light it all to a dramatic effect.
Halton Co. * 270/237-5600
OIL MELTER ON BOARD
Another advancement for Henny Penny’s Evolution Elite advanced fryer: An integrated PriMelt melter now accommodates semi-solid oils, melting them to clear liquid for ready use in the Evo’s auto top-off system. The Evo, you’ll recall, uses just 30 lbs. of oil to deliver the same output as a 50-lb. vat, and it does it through built-in filtering (in 4 mins.) and auto top off. The melter melts and holds fresh oil within the footprint of the fryer, which means you can use the easy-to-handle, semi-solid oils rather than pouring from bottles.
Henny Penny * 800/417-8417
HEAT CAPTURE FOR A WASHER
Located at the unload end of the Energy Star-rated CLeR warewasher, the Advansys Energy Recovery system captures heat from the exhaust air and from heat radiating off the dishes and sends it through a condensing coil. The coil, in turn, heats incoming water from a cold water feed to 110°F. That means a lot less work for the built-in, 30kW booster heater. On the CLeR, you get the same functionality, throughput of 600 racks/hr., OptiRinse nozzles, and other features of the CLe, but you’re saving about $1,800 to $2,000 in utilities a year. Payback works out to about 1½ to 2 years.
Hobart Corp. * 888/446-2278
NEW ICEMAKER DOES FINE WITHOUT YOU
Manitowoc’s new series of ice machines, Indigo, goes with a tagline that says “Thinking inside the box,” and it’s an apt one. Indigo “thinks” with all kinds of advanced monitoring and communication and takes care of almost everything itself. An advanced diagnostic system monitors, collects and records information for maintenance history as well as alerting for corrective action; asset management software lets you schedule ice production and monitors water/energy consumption. Indigo monitors and adjusts for incoming water quality, stores its operational history, and provides real-time diagnostics and maintenance history. When service is needed, a “safe mode” lets Indigo keep running until technicians can arrive. Optional LuminIce Growth Inhibitor uses UV to inhibit mold and slime. Communications, both onboard and remote, always show you what’s happening, what needs to be done, etc.
Manitowoc Ice/Manitowoc * 920/682-0161
WELCOME TO INTELLIGENT WAREWASHING
Europe ramped up its water conservation efforts quite a while back, and Meiko’s new M-iQ warewasher takes it to the next level. Loaded with advanced technologies, the M-iQ uses a higher-pressure wash to get the job done with less water, while a new filtering system filters continuously and employs a high-pressure flush to eject food waste out of the system. Cleaner water means better performance, lower detergent requirements and easier cleanup. In fact, a self-cleaning system goes to work automatically at the end of the shift, using just minimal water. Sophisticated energy management senses heating distribution and adjusts to minimize energy usage.
Meiko USA * 800/556-3456
WASTE-HEAT RECOVERY: ENTER THE DRAGON
Here’s one that fills several needs at once: National Hot Water has hit the market with an innovative new grease filter for your kitchen exhaust that not only filters grease but recovers hood energy for use in water heating or in tempering makeup air. The Dragon Fire Thermo Recovery Filter employs a Teflon-coated copper heat exchanger as part of a 16” x 20” or 20” x 20” grease filter. The Dragon snaps in and uses a quick-connect water hookup. An added benefit, the manufacturer says, is that the heat-exchange process precipitates and therefore collects more grease than a conventional system.
National Hot Water * 888/444-4435
BATH TIME FOR PRODUCE
For years and years, Power Soak has used turbulent water to take labor out of washing pots and pans. Jets of water do the work, relieving staffers for other jobs. Now, how about taking the same concept and applying it to washing produce? Presto, Produce Soak! Continuous, free-flowing water tumbles pre-cut and whole produce, thoroughly cleaning hard-to-reach crevices in all kinds of fruits and veggies. Divided washing bays allow you to segregate produce and wash many items simultaneously, with handy baskets making loading/unloading a simple process. Jets are designed to be gentle on produce, preserving quality.
Power Soak * 800/444-9624
DOUBLE-SIDED GRILLING, IMPROVED
Double-sided grilling changed the face of foodservice, offering great consistency and pretty much doubling speed. Then portable double-sided grills like Star’s Pro-Max took that high-volume productivity to smaller spaces. And now, a new hinge system adds durability while improving finished food quality, too. The new design raises the top platen straight up a full 3” off the food before rotating, eliminating the pinch effect. Meanwhile, the top platen provides 3 lbs. to 4 lbs. of pressure for positive contact during cooking, while compression springs add durability and make smoother control for the whole process.
Star/Middleby * 800/264-7827
BOOGIE SHOES FOR YOUR EQUIPMENT
Tired of muscling heavy equipment around the kitchen? Tired of broken and/or dirty, greasy casters? Well, here’s your chance to dance that oven across the floor like Fred and Ginger gliding across the ballroom! Stoveshoes are roughly the heavy-industrial equivalent of those nylon furniture glides you can slip under bookcases and such to slide around the room. But Stoveshoes are much, much heavier duty, like hockey pucks, but deeper, with deep recesses for heavy-equipment legs to fit into. They’re sturdy, they glide, and they’re chemical resistant, guaranteed to last the life of the equipment. What’s more, the smooth exterior surface is easy to mop clean, something you can’t say about nook-and-cranny intensive casters. And if your powerwasher gets carried away with the sprayer, a drain hole lets cleaning fluids drain easily out of the Stoveshoe.
Stoveshoes LLC * 319/366-1485
THREE LOW-FLOWS IN ONE
Low-flow prerinse spray valves are probably the single easiest, best, cheapest way to save big amounts of water in your operation. And now, Strahman Valves has adapted lessons it’s learned in other sprayer markets to make a low-flow that’s even better. The Kwik Clean3 comes with three different spray heads to match your cleaning needs, all three coming in at under 1 gal./min. at 60 p.s.i. Choose a fan spray tip with a 15” pattern or a 5” pattern for general cleaning, or a solid-spray pattern for a higher-impact blast for stubborn cleaning needs. Among features: All stainless operating parts, a 5-yr. warranty
Strahman Valves * 877/787-2462
UNDERBAR FURNITURE WITH VISION
Every now and then, a new product’s name says it all. Supreme Metal calls its new Vision underbar line “furniture,” and with good reason. It’s not just equipment; it’s got decorator value. Ideal for anywhere the underbar has esthetic impact—hotel lobbies, atriums, any display areas—the the Vision line creates an integrated design of pleasing, graceful shapes and offers an extensive line of decorator finishes, from brushed and mirrored stainless finishes to powder coats, laminates, wood veneers and fused/bonded metal patterns. Choose from neat details like drawers hidden behind doors, bi-fold doors, fold-downs, etc.
Supreme Metal * 800/645-2526
MAYBE THE JOHN WAYNE OF BLENDERS
The Quiet One, as Vitamix calls its new model, is billed as “the quietest commercial blender available.” Designed to make both speed of service and significant noise reduction a priority, The Quiet One is targeted directly at front-of-house operations at such venues as coffeehouses and high-end bars. Just how quiet is it? Third-party testing measured it at 18db quieter than its nearest competitor, a measurement that works out to about one fourth the noise of the other model. Vitamix says the credit goes in part to a unique door-seal design and also to floating technology that greatly reduces vibration transmitted to adjacent surfaces. The blender’s programmable, with a 3-hp motor and 48-oz. capacity.
Vitamix Corp. * 800/848-2649
WHY A DUCT?
Why? Why not? More and more, foodservice is popping up in areas that don’t lend themselves to conventional kitchen exhaust, from office spaces to hotels, stadiums and mall kiosks. The answer? Ductless ventilation, in all its various forms. And now Wells has created a line of self-contained Universal Ventless Hoods, up to 8’ long, to accommodate a cookline of anyone’s electric equipment, from fryers to griddles, rangetops and steamers. The new line is certified for Type I duty and includes its own fire suppression system and 4-stage filtration including a stainless baffle, a fiberglass second stage, a HEPA and high-carbon pack .
Wells Mfg. * 888/356-5362