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June 2007
Tracking the Cutting Edge
By: The Editors

A device for re-using waste heat from your refrigeration system, a fryer with a continuous filter arrangement, and a talking menu (literally) are some of the innovative new products that have recently come to market.


Wherever you've got refrigeration or air conditioning equipment, you've got heat being generated and, usually, dissipated into the air. A company called Turbotec can help you capture that waste heat to preheat water for your hot water tank. The compact heat exchanger, called Enviro-Pak, is designed to be used with light commercial air conditioning systems or refrigeration systems in the 1.5- to 5-ton range. It works by sending hot refrigerant vapor through the center of a coaxial heat exchanger (a tube within a tube) and then on to the condenser. Cold water flowing in the opposite direction through the outer tube of the coaxial picks up the heat, then continues on to the hot water tank. Payback is estimated at about two years for restaurants. The product debuted in January.

Turbotec/National Energy Systems


Dimly-lit restaurants may have plenty of ambience, but the lack of light can also make it hard for some guests to decipher your menu. Unless you have "Menus That Talk," that is. This electronic menu system, about the size of a DVD case, does just what the name says: it verbally describes your menu's food items and specials. You start by choosing a language, then touch illuminated buttons showing menu categories. The unit gives brief descriptions of the cuisine, wine suggestions, sides and prices. You can make minor updates to the talking menu at your restaurant, while major revisions are made through a Web-based program. Menus That Talk was introduced at the NRA Show in May; units will begin shipping during the summer.

Menus That Talk


A fryer that constantly filters your oil "as you fry" has just come to market in April. ConoTech's continuous filter fryer system promises to increase shortening life, shorten cook-times, improve food quality, allow you to cook multiple menu items in the same fryer with no taste transfer and simplify fryer cleaning, the company says. The filter system is simple: Shortening flows through a stainless mesh filter inside the fry vat, through the filter pump, and back into the fry vat. The cycle repeats continuously. Constant filtration keeps sediment and food particles away from the heat tubes, which in turn reduces carbonization of the oil. The filters can be run through the dishmachine once or twice daily, as needed. Choose from 14" or 18" vats, holding 40 lbs. and 70 lbs. of shortening, respectively, in gas or electric.


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