Ever on the lookout for ways to equip and run smarter foodservice operations, consultants are on the cutting edge when it comes to finding new and useful equipment. And that’s why the first-ever Innovation Showcase sponsored by the Foodservice Consultant Society Int’l. Educational Foundation makes so much sense, and why the picks for last year’s showcase are meaningful for you.
The Innovation Showcase made its debut during the FCSI North American Conference last September in Anaheim, Calif., and when all was said and done, Vent Master’s Ventilated Ceiling was voted the most innovative product of 2005. In addition, FCSI named Hobart Corp. Manufacturer of the Year.
But let’s back up a bit. The showcase stage was set back in July, when a panel of three FCSI Fellows combed through 24 product submissions. Their charge: to determine which products best showed a clear commitment to innovation and represented a “clear leap forward for the foodservice industry.”
The judges included Ron Kooser, Cini-Little Int’l.; Robert Pacifico, Romano/Gatland, and Michael Pantano, Culinary Advisors.
“It’s difficult today, with the tight margins manufacturers have to work under, to dedicate funds for R&D to develop anything really new, or even to significantly improve on a product,” Kooser says. “These companies deserve recognition in developing the products selected for this program. In fact, everyone that submitted a product for consideration deserves thanks from the foodservice industry.
Energy efficiency took a starring role in judges’ choices. “It was encouraging to see that so many manufacturers have addressed the energy issue, since that’s taking such a big chunk out of operators’ profit,” Kooser adds.
The fact that several products directly impacted the customer’s experience also was a key factor in the consideration. “Whether it was through faster service of food or more consistent service, [the products weren’t] all ‘mechanically’ oriented,” Kooser points out. “Sometimes we tend to get involved in the construction or operation of the equipment and forget that it is all for the customer’s benefit.”
When the dust settled, judges had narrowed the field to 10 items, all of which were on display in the lobby of the Anaheim Marriott during the annual conference. All consultants attending the meeting were asked to vote for the one product they considered the most groundbreaking, and that turned out to be Vent Master, by a wide margin.
“This is a real paradigm shift [for the industry], from a big box hanging over the cooking battery to a ventilated ceiling,” Pantano says of Vent Master’s Ventilated Ceiling. “It’s a big deal when you’re cooking in front of customers. It lets us design display cooking areas with high style, and no hood hanging down every 20 ft.”
Hobart Named Manufacturer Of The Year
At the same time, Hobart Corp. was named the Manufacturer of the Year. The FCSI judges for this prize were Bonnie Zietlow, Culinary Advisors; Dwane Bosma, Bosma Design Solutions, and Rich Kukla, Robert Rippe and Associates.
The honor marks the third time in six years that FCSI has recognized Hobart with a major award. In 1999, FCSI awarded Hobart’s 2000 Series Slicer with the Distinguished Development Award, and in 2003, Hobart earned the association’s Honorable Mention for Manufacturer of the Year. Looking ahead, the ’06 Innovation Showcase will be held at the FCSI North American Division Symposium in Louisville, Ky., Sept. 28-30. Visit the FCSI Web site, www.fcsi.org, for full details.
THE CEILING THAT BREATHES
Clear sight lines, quiet operation, dishwasher-friendly ducts and no stainless steel box hanging from the ceiling. You get all this and more from Vent Master’s award-winning ventilated ceiling. The system, used for more than 20 years in Europe, is finally commercially available in North America, and here’s how it works: Panels, similar to the cartridge-type filters of traditional hoods, are installed flush with the ceiling above each cooking appliance. The cartridges filter air as it leaves the kitchen, trapping grease particles in dishwasher-friendly filters. The exhaust cassettes achieve a minimum of 88% grease removal efficiency, says Vent Master, meeting NFPA96 standard exhaust air volume and velocity requirements. The cassettes include grease troughs for easy grease collection, cleaning and maintenance. Other key ceiling components include perforated stainless steel make-up air panels; lighting panels using incandescent or fluorescent fixtures; and an integral fire protection system that’s UL/ULC listed and meets UL300 requirements.
THE INFINITE JOY OF FRYING
Kiss those oil filtration blues away with the Infinity Pre-Mix Gas Fryer by AGA Foodservice. This baby cleans your hot or cold oil in 6 mins. flat at the touch of a button. First, a two-step filtering process takes out large and small particles. Then the clean oil is pumped back into the pot, ready to go. Well-filtered oil lasts longer and fries food more consistently, while the auto-filtration system keeps your employees smiling (and safe). Other features: extra-fast heat recovery means that the 32-lb. oil pot fries as much as traditional 50-lb. units, says AGA, saving you money. And the Energy Star-certified machine is up to 86% fuel efficient, reports AGA.
THESE TRAYS ARE HOT— LITERALLY
Save you eaten any healthcare room service meals recently? If your food wasn’t hot, you’ve experienced the challenge that healthcare foodservice directors face daily. Aladdin Temp-Rite has a neat approach to keeping meals hot: the Heat On Demand On Tray uses induction technology to improve hot food-holding times. Ten seconds of activation gives you an hour of holding time. The system eliminates the need for pellet bases, underliners, base heaters and base lifters. And since the plate sits directly on the tray, meals look all the more appealing and a lot less institutional—giving you satisfied customers and returning empty plates.
UVC LIGHT BLASTS TRAY-LINE BACTERIA
Tray lines, with their constantly moving belts traversing hard-to-access spots, have always been notoriously hard to clean. Now Caddy Corp. has shined a light on the matter. Caddy’s ultraviolet light source/conveyor technology destroys bacteria and germs on the drive compartment surfaces and conveyor bands, which means you no longer need chemicals and other disinfectants. Existing conveyor systems can be retrofitted with a drive compartment housing the ultraviolet light. The ongoing operation savings provide a payback of less than one year, says Caddy. The cleaning process is continuous during conveyor operation; no special cleaning solutions or scrubber systems are required. Each UVC lamp lasts about 7,000 hrs.
NON-STOP WATER SOFTENING IN YOUR WASHER
So you’re in the heat of the dinner battle, and you’re running low on clean plates because the warewashing crew has to stop to refill the machine’s water softener. Or maybe they’ve forgotten to refill it, and the glassware is covered with water spots. Electrolux Professional solves the problem with its WT30 and WT65 dishwasher with built-in water softener. The secret lies in the machine’s dual softening chambers, which allow one side to regenerate while the other softens the water flowing into the main cavity. The process is monitored and controlled by the machine. The operator’s role: to make sure there’s salt in the container, and to keep loading the dishes. Available in undercounter and hood-type models.
Professional North America
CHEWABLE ICE, SMARTER ICE MACHINE
As many as 40% of Americans chew ice, say the Follett marketing folks, and that’s why the company developed the Horizon Chewblet Icemakers. These units produce uniformly shaped ice that’s easy to chew and dispenses well from most ice and beverage dispensers. Horizon features a satellite-fill option that pushes ice up to 20 ft. through a transport tube and into a dispenser or bin. No need for vacuums or pumps, and no heat or noise by your beverage dispenser. The continuous harvest cycle saves water and electricity. You get 100 lbs. of Chewblet ice from less than 13 gals. of water, compared to the 20 gals. of water required by comparable cuber machines. Choose from self-contained and split system models in top-mount and satellite-fill configurations.
GREAT RINSE, HALF THE WATER
Smarter spray pattern, less rinse water: That’s the story with Hobart’s Opti-Rinse System, a feature of the C-Line of conveyor washers and flight-type warewashers. The system cuts energy and rinse water consumption by more than 50% compared to traditional fan-spray nozzles, says Hobart. Opti-Rinse uses low and high pressure to create an oscillating S-pattern of water, which in turn provides a more forceful washing cycle. Meanwhile, larger water droplets hold heat longer, and the higher velocity yields a faster, more uniform spray. Opti-Rinse-enhanced conveyor warewashers, using just 0.64 gals. per rack, can realize up to $6,400 savings a year, Hobart says, while flight-type machines can save $8,300. Further, Opti-Rinse halves the water flowing into the sanitary sewer, reduces the energy required to heat the water, and cuts the amount of chemicals needed in the rinse cycle.
A STOMPIN’ STRONG WALK-IN FLOOR
Kolpak has the solution to that age-old problem of heavy loads warping your walk-in floors. The company’s Structural Flooring handles loads up to 5,000 lbs./sq. ft. And they’re impact resistant, too, able to withstand a full keg dropped from 4’ (not that we recommend alcohol abuse of any kind). The flooring can be installed over any level surface, making it perfect for retrofits. The floors are built with 12” on-center structural grid construction. They’re impact resistant and are guaranteed not to de-laminate, says Kolpak. Choose from five metal finishes: 16-gauge smooth galvanized steel or stainless steel; 14-gauge smooth galvanized; or 0.100 smooth aluminum or diamond tread plate.
A WHIRLWIND OF AN OVEN
Whip up menu items faster than you thought possible with the Tornado speed-cooking oven. Using a combination of forced-air convection and microwave energy, the Tornado bakes, toasts and browns food up to 12 times faster than conventional cooking methods, the company says. The oven’s patented catalytic converter system eliminates grease particles, and thus the need for a hood. This, combined with a compact footprint, allows for installation virtually anywhere. And 128 programmable menu settings provide simple push-button cooking, minimizing staff training and supervision and ensuring product consistency. Other features include an independently controlled browning element on the bottom and a multi-speed convection blower.
SERVE IT ALL FROM ONE UNIT
Here’s a hot buffet solution that lets you serve anything from vegetables and sauces to pasta and crisp finger foods, all from the same piece of equipment. Winston’s flexible SerVap hot food serving module uses controlled vapor technology to adjust the amount of steam heat that reaches the food. As a result, you can sustain food temperatures and freshness for longer periods than with traditional serving units. SerVap can be set into stylish cabinetry or more functional stainless steel, depending on your servery style. The sturdy lift-up glass cover doubles as a sneeze guard in one direction, or a grab-and-go serving station from the other. Temperature settings range from 140°F to 180°F.