Smart, Safe Products Earn FCSI Kudos
By: The Editors
An ice delivery system and a water-based sanitizer-making machine were among the noteworthy items featured in FCSI's 2007 Innovation Showcase.
Efficiency and safety. Those were the twin themes linking the eight finalists and two winners of the Foodservice Consultants Society Int'l.'s Innovation Showcase last fall. The event was coordinated by the FCSI Educational Foundation and took place during the organization's North American Conference, held in Atlanta in October.
Efficiency examples included a fryer that uses less energy thanks to a revamped heat-exchanger system, a four-"burner" induction cooktop that can handle up to 16 pans at once, and a refrigerated drawer in which each compartment functions as a freezer, quick-chiller or refrigerator with the touch of a button.
On the food- and worker-safety front, the FCSI Fellows in charge of the first-pass judging applauded such innovations as a slicer designed so that its blade is never exposed (even when cleaning), and an ice maker with antimicrobial enhancements, among other features.
After the finalist products were singled out by the Fellows, they went on to the annual meeting, where FCSI members reviewed them and voted. Members looked for a focus on research and development that resulted in innovative products and marked a leap forward for the industry.
And from the field of 10 finalists, not one but two products earned top honorsa first in the Innovation Showcase's three year-history.
The FCSI Product of the Year Award was presented to both Follett Corp. and Sterilox Food Safety/PuriCore. Follett's product is a labor-saving ice delivery system that can supply ice to two remote locations. And the Sterilox entry earned attention for its ability to convert plain water into a food-safe, chemical-free sanitizing solution.
Read on for in-depth information about the 10 noteworthy products, including the two Product of the Year winners and eight finalists.
Two Products of the Year:
LOOK, NO MORE ICE TOTING!
If you like the idea of maintaining a single ice machine but need the ice in two different places, check out Follett's new Ice Manager Diverter Valve System. This ingenious solution, a co-winner of the FCSI Product of the Year Award, automatically delivers ice from a Follett Horizon icemaker to two separate dispensers. The system sends ice through a tube, from its source at the ice machine to wherever you need it, up to 75' away. The Ice Manager can fill almost any type of dispenser or bin, minus the heat and noise generated by on-the-spot ice makers. The unit's automated valve directs the ice to whichever delivery spot the programming calls for. No hands, no waiting, no problem.
PRESTO, CHANGE-O: WATER INTO SANITIZER
The other Product of the Year winner was a simple-looking device that transforms plain water into a food-safe, pH-neutral sanitizing solution. The Sterilox Food Safety System uses salt, water and electricity to produce a food sanitizing solution that helps kill pathogens and organisms such as E. coli, salmonella, norovirus, yeast and mold. Operators have found that the sanitizing rinse increases produce shelf life while reducing browning. The Sterilox unit can also be plumbed into an ice machine to make antimicrobial ice for food storage and food display (ideal for fresh seafood). The Sterilox Model 2100 produces up to 26 gals./hr. of hypochlorous food safe sanitizer. The unit is UL listed, NSF approved and produces an FDA-allowed food contact substance.
Sterilox Food Safety/PuriCore
FRIES FASTER ON LESS GAS
The FCSI Fellows gave two thumbs up to Alto-Shaam's Fry-Tech ASF-75G fryer. The unit features a revamped heat-exchanger system and an enclosed forced-air modulating burner that together give you 71% efficiency, according to testing by PG&E's Food Service Technology Center, San Ramon, Calif. You'll also appreciate the lower flue temperatures (i.e., cooler kitchen), the quick oil temperature recovery time and the fact that oil lasts longer and less of it gets absorbed. Techy features: The model has a capacity of 73 lbs., a 120,000-Btu rating, a frying area of 15" W x 22" D, built-in controls for ignition and flame adjustment, dual programmable controls and a mobile trolley for oil disposal.
A COMBI OVEN THAT'S SMOKIN'
If you're thinking about adding pizzazz to your menu with a selection of smoked meats or fish, Alto-Shaam's Combitherm Smoker could be just the ticket. This versatile boilerless unit uses patented smoker technology that lets you smoke hot or cold product and then revert to standard cookingwith no flavor transfer or residual smoke. The smoker option comes on more than 10 boiler-free models, in gas or electric. All come with EcoSmart technology to reduce energy and water use. Standard features include an automatic steam venting system, to protect the user from burns when opening the door; an easy-to-use control panel that's tilted to keep it out of the way when adding pans; and as options, HACCP documentation software and a door that slides back and out of the way.
FOUR ZONES, ONE INDUCTION SURFACE
Induction cooking sends heat where it belongs: directly to pots and pans and not into the surrounding kitchen. For fans of cool kitchen cookery, Electrolux Professional offers the S90 Full Surface Induction Range, a glass-ceramic cooking surface with not one but four independently controlled hot zones, each with 5kW of power. And did we mention that it? s versatile? The 33" W x 29" D surfacethe same footprint as a 4-burner gas rangeholds up to 16 pots at once, saving you valuable floor and hood space. You'll appreciate the seamless transitions between heating zones and minimal "dead" spots; the temperature of each zone can be regulated as needed. The Electrolux S90 can be spec'd as a standalone module or as part of a range battery. It's also available for island installations.
INTO THE VORTEX (STEAMER)
Plug, pour and cook: that? s the routine for Groen's Vortex100 Connectionless Steamer. No water hook-up, no drain line, and certainly no boiler maintenance are required for this unit. The Vortex steams at about 210°F and holds food at 155°F? all at atmospheric pressure, so there's no need for the complexity of a vacuum pump. Inside the cooking cavity, a side-mounted convection fan sends the steam evenly around the food for even cooking at a constant temperature. Steam is generated from a generously sized 4-gal. water reservoir. Since the 6-pan steamer uses less than 2½ gals. during a typical steaming session, you'll save time on water refills. Choose from 3-pan or 6-pan, tabletop or floor-stand models. Energy Star approved and NSF listed.
BIG STEAM IN A SMALL FOOTPRINT
SmartSteam100 marked the second FCSI finalist from Groen. This high-performance boiler-free steamer offers 22% more Btus per pan that comparatively sized units on the market, Groen says. In the cooking cavity, a side-mounted fan ensures fast, even distribution of steam, which is generated by infrared gas burners. A slide-out steam lid separates food pans from the steam reservoir, keeping the temperature steady even when adding pans of cold food. User-friendly features include a hands-free push-up handle, easy-to-clean mirror-finish interior, field-reversible door with a continuous hinge, 10-hour timer and a waterproof power switch. Choose from 3-, 5- and 10-pan models in tabletop, stand-mounted or double-stacked configurations.
SLICE(R) OF LIFE
Hobart's 3000 Series Slicer won kudos from the FCSI Fellows for its many new safety, consistency and cleaning features. For starters, the cutting plane is more upright than on earlier models, set at a 50° angle for easier operation. The slicer also "remembers" the width of the item being sliced and shortens passes accordingly. The Enduralube system keeps the carriage lubricated and easy to slide, making work easier for the operator. And as for safe cleaning, the space between the blade and motor housing is larger and more accessible, while a new, removable ring-guard cover removes the blade while it's still enclosed in the guard. You can wash the bladewhich is never exposedin a sink or warewasher. An indicator light tells you when it's time for sharpening.
FLEXIBLE FREEZER, FINE FRIDGE
Consultants, always looking for ways to make life easier in kitchens, admired the flexible cold drawer system by Randell/Unified Brands. The FX Series Drawer with FlexiCold features drawers that chill independently, letting you switch from refrigerator to freezer, or anywhere in between. You can also use the unit as a batch rapid chiller for dropping food temps to below 40°F in less than 4 hrs. Cooling flows directly into the drawer through evaporator coils above the interior lid. When you open the drawer, the lid stays in the machine; close it, and the lid reseals. Since the refrigeration system only operates when the drawer is closed, you're saving energythe unit sips only 1.2 kW/day in refrigeration mode, Randell saysand with no fan blowing while the drawer is open, cold air stays in. Energy Star approved.
THE FRUGAL ICE MAKER
Frugal, talented and foolproof are a few words that describe the Prodigy Cuber by Scotsman Ice/Enodis. The Prodigy not only helps maintain itself, it also saves on electricity and water. For starters, a self-monitoring system gives you real-time reporting on performance and maintenance needs. Prodigy's SmartBoard streamlines maintenance and repairs using a diagnostic code display that helps technicians pinpoint operating issues. On the energy efficiency front, at least one Prodigy model exceeds the 2008 California Energy Commission and 2010 Federal Energy Efficiency regulations by about 20%, the company says. Choose from 12 sizes with daily production capacities ranging from 360 lbs. to more than 2,200 lbs.
Scotsman Ice Systems/Enodis