A “faster” combi. A “more efficient” warewasher. A “smarter” ice machine. The equipment world is full of descriptions can sound intriguing on paper, but to understand if the latest technologies really make sense, and live up to the claims, you need a first-hand look.
That’s one reason why the Innovation Showcase, sponsored by the Foodservice Consultants Society Int’l. Educational Foundation, makes sense: It displays the newest, most advanced equipment for FCSI members to see up close, and offers them the chance to quiz equipment reps about technology applications, efficiency data, ergonomic considerations and the like.
Planning for the 2006 Showcase, which was held last fall and produced the FCSI Product of the year, began months earlier when three FCSI Fellows served as screening judges and sorted through product submissions. The goal of the three—William Caruso, William Caruso & Associates; Ron Kooser, Cini-Little Int’l.; and Michael Pantano, Culinary Advisors—was to zero in on products that showed a commitment to innovation and represented what they considered a leap forward for the industry.
The Fellows sent 10 finalists to the FCSI annual meeting in September, where all consultant members in attendance were invited to review them and cast a ballot for the top product. When the votes were tallied, the air-o-speed combi-microwave from Electrolux Professional was named the 2006 FCSI Product of the Year.
In this story we bring you writeups on the 10 finalists,
focusing on the “leap-forward” elements that gained the
attention of the Fellows. And we’ll watch for the results of
the next Innovation Showcase later this year. FCSI will run
its 2007 program, complete with products on display and
all-member judging, at its October annual meeting prior to
The NAFEM Show.
LARGE BATCHES AT HIGH SPEED
The air-o-speed combi-microwave oven enables you to carry out high-speed, large-batch cooking with convection, steam and a patented form of microwave technology. Electrolux says that in a traditional microwave, a series of randomly dispersed waves transfer energy to a single nonmetal pan or batch of food, and the larger the batch of food, the slower the cooking time. With the new, patented microwave technology used by air-o-speed, the waves travel in a parallel path, applying concentrated energy individually to each pan of food, up to 10 metal hotel pans. Therefore, large-batch cooking is carried out more efficiently, says the company. In addition, air-o-speed can accommodate smaller loads by automatically aligning the food load with the quantity of energy required to cook the product. It all adds up to amazingly fast cooking, even from frozen, says the company.
OVEN MONITORS ITS OWN HUMIDITY
Convotherm touts the Advanced Closed System on its Combi Oven-Steamer, which automatically controls moisture and heat based on the physical properties of the food being cooked, allowing you to easily bake, broil, stew and so on. A programmable control panel lets you store as many as 250 recipes in the oven’s onboard cookbook and start cooking with the push of a button. Meanwhile, Convotherm has focused on the needs of both smaller kitchens and busy chefs by designing patented “disappearing” doors. You simply open the doors and push them back along slides—as you would with your entertainment cabinet at home—and the result is doors that are completely out of the way. And note that the Convotherm oven has garnered attention around the globe: In addition to being recognized in the FCSI competition last year, the Convotherm also walked away with an Apria Award at the Equip’Hotel Show in Paris last November.
Convotherm by Cleveland/Enodis
Rounding out the new Apogee line of cooktops, the recently introduced induction Buffet System from CookTek incorporates the company’s SmarTag radio frequency identification technology. The system consists of induction surfaces with corresponding chafing dishes that can be dropped into any countertop or serving station. Through the use of SmarTag, the chafing dishes communicate directly with the induction surface for exact temperature holding. This two-way wireless communication provides optimum feedback to you and ensures the chafing dish is warmed to the optimum temperature.
ICEMAKING AT A DISTANCE
Follett’s new and award-winning Satellite-fill technology in
the Horizon icemaker allows the self-contained unit to be
placed in a backroom or basement up to 50 ft. away from a
bin or beverage dispenser. With a Horizon unit you won’t
need to purchase and install a separate condenser on the
roof, and you’ll take the heat and noise of the machine out
of customer areas. Horizon is available in models of 1,000
and 1,400 lbs./day, and the machines produce Chewblet ice.
They also feature semi-automatic cleaning and an automatic
self-flushing cycle to reduce scale buildup. The Horizon
with Satellite-fill technology was recognized in the FCSI
Innovation Showcase last month.
CONVECTION OVEN BUILT TOUGH
Lang says its high-performance ChefSeries convection ovens are constructed to withstand the rigors of everyday operation. They’re equipped with numerous features to improve the ease of use, including a stainless steel, fully enclosed exterior; sealed controls to protect electrical components; a manual control override feature to help eliminates downtime; and porcelainized interior surfaces. On gas models you get an indirect-fired heat exchanger that helps eliminate combustion byproducts in the oven cavity, says Lang. Visual and audible alarms come standard, and there’s an auto-reversing fan that provides the air flow required for a consistent bake without you needing to rotate pans. Temp range goes up to 525°F; cook-and-hold feature maintains product quality and safe serving temperatures. There’s also a Pulse-Steam feature and standard 2-speed high-low fan for delicate foods.
RECAPTURE HEAT FOR MORE EFFICIENCY
Meiko’s exclusive Waste Air Heat Recovery System, which reclaims hot waste air to preheat incoming water, is 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/hr. NSF listed.
EXPECT GRATE THINGS
Sani-Floor takes floor management to a whole new level with a system that can replace rubber mats and handle any spills with aplomb. The self-cleaning floor system, which is topped with pliable, nonskid, warewasher-friendly fiberglass/resin grates, works like this: Imagine a series of 6”-deep floor inserts in front of your cookline. The insets, joined together to provide any length required, are lined with small water nozzles pointing down to a drain in the middle, and covered with three flexible 20” x 30” fiberglass grates. Food scraps and liquid fall through the grate and out of the way. When you’re ready to clean, you just hit a button and water flushes debris into a catch basin for easy disposal. Water used: 12 gals. Cleaning duration: about 6 secs. You reduce the hazards associated with wet mats and save the water you’d use to wash them. The Sani-Floor folks say the system pays for itself within months. NSF certified.
MEET THE EINSTEIN OF ICE MACHINES
Finally, a really smart ice machine. The new Prodigy from Scotsman Ice/Enodis not only helps maintain itself, it also saves electricity and water, says the company. For starters, Prodigy’s self-monitoring system gives you up-to-the-minute reporting on performance and maintenance needs. Prodigy’s SmartBoard streamlines preventative maintenance and repairs using a diagnostic code display that lets technicians quickly pinpoint any operating issues. And Prodigy is energy efficient; it’s one of the first cubers to exceed the 2008 California Energy Commission and 2010 Federal Energy Efficiency regulations. On the water efficiency front, check out Prodigy’s WaterSense purge control. This minimizes scale build-up by automatically adjusting purge water amount to water conditions. Not too much, not too little, but just right.
DISPLAY CASE LOADED WITH FEATURES
It’s a good-looking, open-front cold display, and the Breeze refrigeration system slides right out without tools for simple maintenance. But the feature that secured this display case’s place among the Kitchen Innovations Award Winners is the optional Clean Sweep. We all know that when the condenser coil gets gummed up and blocked with dust and debris, it compromises the efficiency of the unit. Clean Sweep, patent pending, does what it says, brushing down the condenser coil once a day, automatically. Such a simple maintenance action will do wonders for the operation and life of the unit. The Breeze’s smart microprocessor monitors and maintains temperature, kicking into defrost when needed so you won’t have to.
UV COMES TO EXHAUST RETROFITS
Ultraviolet exhaust hood technology has been a boon for the ventilation world, and Vent Master made its mark with UV hoods several years ago, under the Reactocell name. Since then, two things have happened: Vent Master was purchased by the Int’l. Halton Group and changed its name to Halton Indoor Climate Systems, and FCSI named a new product in UV line an Innovation Showcase winner. The retrofittable Reactofit is designed for operators who want to add the efficiencies of UV ventilation but don’t want to redo their existing exhaust equipment. Reactofit is a listed hood accessory designed to keep exhaust ducts and fans grease free, thereby reducing the potential for fires. It’s designed as an independent attachment to existing hood assemblies that is placed between the top of the hood and the attendant exhaust duct. The Reactofit unit can be applied to various hood sizes and cooking styles depending on site conditions.
Halton Indoor Climate Systems