As editors we’re always on the lookout for new products and technologies, which means we spend a lot of time at trade shows. It also means that among the many products we see each year, some catch our attention—with their new-think technology or energy-savings potential—and stay on our minds.
Last year the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show and The NAFEM Show delivered many products that at first glance clearly stood out above the crowd. Following our show-coverage formula, we wrote about the best we saw at each show in two separate issues last year.
But because these products remained on our minds, we thought they deserved a second look—or maybe a first look for you, if you didn’t see them at the NRA or NAFEM shows. We limited our picks here to those designed for cooking, steaming and warewashing, as these are key areas where R&D has embraced energy savings and made operator use far easier. And again, these are all products we saw at shows last year and previously deemed worth of feature-product writeups in the magazine.
In short, these suppliers have put development into high gear and come up with some of the best new cooking, steaming and washing products we saw in 2005. Read on for details; companies appear in alphabetical order.
NEVER ROTATE BAKE PANS AGAIN
Looking for a bake oven that truly lets you load the pans and then forget about them? At The NAFEM Show Alto-Shaam demo’d a brand new gas-fired convection oven, the Platinum Series ASC-4G, with airflow so even and smooth it cranked out pans of perfectly baked cookies hour after hour without ever needing to rotate them. The size, shape and speed of the fan are part of the explanation, and a transverse airflow that moves air top-bottom instead of side-side is another part. A 50,000-Btu burner and a lowered flue exit team up for plenty of power and efficiency. Construction is typical Alto-Shaam sturdy, with stainless front, top, sides and rear enclosure. A dependent 60/40 door system featuring a double pane thermal window is standard; the interior is available in porcelain or stainless. An electric version is coming too.
TUMBLE STIR FRY IS HERE
ColburnTreat Innovations debuted The NAFEM Show equivalent of the concept car: a prototype for a patent-pending induction stir-fry machine that cooks individual or bulk portions in 4 mins. or less. The machine consists of a 6-qt. kettle that’s tilt-mounted on a stand that turns the kettle at a variable speed. Inside the kettle are “fingers” to tumble the food as it cooks. Induction technology provides the rapid heat source. “This could be used for display cooking of Asian food, or to cook pasta, or vegetables and meat for a quick assemble-to-order stew,” said developer Mike Colburn. “The application is great for display cooking.”
AN OVEN AND ITS DISAPPEARING DOORS
Take a look at the Convotherm Combi Oven-Steamer line, now available in the United States for the first time, thanks to Cleveland Range. The versatile combi comes with an Advanced Closed System that automatically adjusts moisture levels depending on the type and amount of food being prepared, allowing you to bake, broil, stew, “fry” and so on. A programmable control panel lets you store up to 250 recipes in the oven’s on-board cookbook and start cooking by pushing a button. Design-wise, the oven features space-saving disappearing doors—all you do is open them fully and then slide them back along the sides. The line, which won two international design awards last year, is available in 28 models.
Convotherm by Cleveland/Enodis
FINALLY, A POCKET COMBO
With all the emphasis these days on compactness and all-around go-anywhere foodservice, perhaps it was only a matter of time before someone rolled out a really compact combi. And now Electrolux Dito has done it. The company wowed attendees at the 2005 NRA Show with the unveiling of its new Mini Combi Oven. A neat addition to the company’s Libero line, the mini is a true combi offering low- and full-temp steam modes as well as convection and combi modes. Weighing in at just 45 lbs. and using a self-contained water tank requiring no water connections, the 13 3/4” x 22” x 18 3/4” unit gives you capacity of three half-pans (hotel or steam variety) and real go-mobile versatility. Runs on 110V and comes with a full set of stainless pans, grids and Teflon aluminum baking trays.
OPEN FRY, TUBE FRY, UNIFRY
Different menu items go best with different fryer designs, and Frymaster’s just made versatility easier with the introduction of its Unifry battery. Custom designed to fit just about any application, the Unifry battery combines Frymaster open-pot units with Dean tube-types. Dozens of options are available, and numerous combinations of open- and tube-type pots are yours for the asking. An optional filter system serves all.
SHORT OVEN, TALL BENEFITS
Height matters. That’s why Market Forge has introduced the new Purr-fect Height Series, including the model 2600PHE electric convection oven which stands at just 53 3/4” high including a 28” stand. Featuring all stainless steel construction (including racks and blower wheel heaters), the oven is easily stacked without spacers. The French-type doors open a full 95° and lock in the open position; the convector fan turns on when the right door is closed and off when it’s opened. Should you need to cool down the oven, the fan operates with the left door open. The control panel (located on the right) is recessed and splash-proof, and it includes an electro-mechanical 5-hr. timer, a 2-speed fan selector switch and a thermostat with a temp range of 200°F to 475°F. Oven shelf supports have nine shelf positions centered 1 3/4” apart, and shelf stops prevent tipping. The oven comes with a 3/4” drain and an interior light. Plus the back of the oven is fully enclosed with a perforated panel. Options include extra shelves, casters, cooling racks and a spray hose. An electric model is offered now, with a gas version coming soon.
RECLAIM HEAT, WASH MORE EFFICIENTLY
Meiko’s exclusive Waste Air Heat Recovery System, which reclaims hot waste air to preheat incoming water, is now available on K-Tronic Series single- and multiple-tank rack conveyor warewashers. Recovered heat increases the temperature of incoming cold water from as low as 50°F up to 130°F. From there the internal booster heater only has to kick it up from 130°F to 180°F, which saves energy. Prerinse temps reach about 165°F; the final rinse 180°F to ensure proper sanitization of ware. Meiko says the system can save up to $40,000 per year, depending on the operation. K-Tronics also offers a low water consumption rating of 84.7 gals./hr. and features Meiko’s Mike 3 controller for fully automatic operation and system diagnostics. Double-wall, insulated construction retains heat inside the units, further conserving energy and improving the working environment in the dishroom. Units wash 311 racks an hour. NSF listed.
The new StratoSteam gas steamer debuted at Southbend’s NAFEM Show booth, where reps were heard touting the unit’s simple componentry. You get a single operating switch for easy operation; a 5-min. cold startup; a constant water flow that minimizes water contamination buildup; and a design that allows for 100% side service and easy cleaning. Meanwhile, the boilerless unit offers a convection component to increase productivity, and it’s all packaged in a space-saving design. StratoSteam models accommodate either 3- or 5-pan models. Other features include side-mount water-resistant controls, a door drip tray and the ability to stack units two high.
WASH YOUR WAY TO EFFICIENCY
Step up to the new STPCW-AR flight-type warewasher and peer inside. You’ll be looking into a machine that Stero says delivers more than 20,000 dishes per hour at a savings of up to 70% on water and energy consumption. The unit relies on a two-stage final rinse system to provide efficient water distribution and heat transfer. You’ll also find stainless steel center-feed manifolds, designed with positive indexing for easy removal and foolproof reassembly. You’ll get rinse water control, so that instead of relying on belt movement to control the rinse, the machine uses 180°F to 195°F water only when ware is in the final rinse area. And you’ll see specially designed peg links that allow for the individual placement of links in seconds without disassembling the belt. Stero says the STPCW-AR cleans 49% more dishes per hour than the industry average and saves up to 20 million gallons of water over the expected lifespan of the machine. NSF certified.
RANGE ENDURES ALL
If high performance, simple operation and easy cleaning are what you’re looking for, check out Endurance, the newest range concept from Vulcan-Hart. Heavy-duty range burner assemblies pop in and out with quick-disconnects, totally freeing access to the stainless range-top basin for cleaning. Oven features a porcelain-coated liner that pulls out for warewashing. Six cast-iron burners each rated at 32,000 Btu feature lift-off heads for cleaning, too. Porcelain-coated, cast-iron grates are 2” deeper in the back than the front so simmering stock pots won’t take up half a front grate. The front ledge is extended by 2”, for a total of 6”-deep work space/plate rest, and the front-mounted yellow knob is a shut-off valve to turn off burner gas pilots from the front during downtime. Knobs are made of high-temp, nylon/glass fiber and can withstand 550°F. All features are patent pending.