KI Products: 18 Items To Improve Operations
It's year six of the Kitchen Innovations program, and the products honored by the National Restaurant Association continue to improve in every way.
By The Editors
When the National Restaurant Association rolls out this year's crop of Kitchen Innovation honorees at its annual show this May, the program, now in its sixth year, will have honored more than 100 products for cost savings, flexibility, multifunctionality, overall efficiency and other significant criteria. As we went to press for this March issue, the 2010 list of KI honorees had not yet been released, but we'll cover those products in our April issue.
In the meantime, this story brings you last year's KI products for a second look. In these few years the KI program has distinguished itself as the program to watch if you're looking for truly new and efficient technologies for the modern commercial kitchen, and the equipment chosen for recognition offers you advantages beyond what was even thinkable 10 years ago.
Last year's crop of 18 products kept up with the general judging criteria. The KI program looks for state-of-the-art solutions to enhancing productivity, saving energy and water, speeding prep and cook times, and maximizing space and functionality back of house.
And the program certainly finds those products, year after year. As you review the products below you'll find technologies such as reverse osmosis, on-demand ventilation, smart fryer filtration, Bluetooth technology for cooking equipment, and glycol refrigerant technology for prep tables. They're all technologies making their way into mainstream kitchens, and there's more coming up behind them at a swift pace.
The judges play a big role in sorting out what's truly unique, and they've distinguished themselves over the years by remaining and independent panel. All of the '09 KI products were reviewed by Dan Bendall, FoodStrategy Inc.; Martin Cowley, The Disney Resorts; William Eaton, Cini-Little Int'l.; Robert Forrester, Restaurant Industry Solutions; Foster Frable, Clevenger-Frable-LaValee Inc.; Rick Gentry, Aramark Corp.; Robert Marshall, McDonald's Corp.) George McNeill, Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co.; and Kathleen Seelye, Ricca Newmark Design. Some of these professionals return every year to take part in the program, giving them a long-range view as they judge current products.
More importantly, as the KI program has encouraged recognition of key products and technologies, suppliers have stepped up their R&D efforts and responded with fresh equipment in all categories, including cooking, holding, steaming, water filtering and ventilating.
Watch for our April announcement of the '10 KI honorees, and we'll see you at the KI Pavilion in May at Chicago's McCormick Place in May. You can find more info online at restaurant.org/show/.
SPEED BAKING THANKS TO A FLATSTONE
Watchers of the Kitchen Innovations program will remember that in 2008 the Silar Microwave Grill insert took home honors. Now Advanced Composite Materials is honored again, this time with the new Silar Microwave Flatstone, which lets you turn your commercial microwave oven into a speedy baking unit using technology borrowed from the aerospace industry. Made of a ceramic composite, the Flatstone insert absorbs microwaves and then converts them into heat. So using the insert means you can speed-bake fresh dough, flatbreads and a wide range of toasted foods using the multistage feature of your microwave oven. Advanced Composite Materials says a fresh-dough pizza can be microwave speed-baked on the Flatstone in 2 mins. to 3 mins. The insert is dishwasher safe and comes with a 1-yr. guarantee.
Advance Composite Materials
YES, KNOCK-DOWN REFRIGERATION
Having trouble wedging your project into tight spaces? Arctic Industries, with decades of experience in constructing walk-ins, has an answer. From Europe, where historic places are everywhere, and many of them are tight, comes knock-down refrigeration from Desmon. The modular, knock-down units not only save freight charges, but they also fit in normal van delivery vehicles and set up easily within very restrictive areas. A monoblock cooling or freezing unit goes on top of reach-ins, with sealed side panels fitting in place. Similar modular knock-downs are available for cabinets and counter refrigeration. Smartfreeze electronics allow you to control and monitor refrigeration through the Internet.
A POT THAT CHANGES THE ENERGY DISCUSSION FOREVER
For years you've been studying utility efficiency. You look for Energy Star labels. You look at Btus and kW consumption. And every bit of it is focused on the equipment. Now comes a pot that cuts energy consumption by hundreds of dollars per year, according to test results from Pacific Gas & Electric's Food Service Technology Center. The Turbo Pot essentially uses a finned heat-sink base to significantly increase the heat-transfer area, capturing energy that escapes from around the sides of a conventional pot. A standard pot offers about 30% efficiency, while the Turbo Pot's design doubles that. And speed? About twice as fast as a conventional pot.
AN EFFICIENT APPROACH TO REVERSE OSMOSIS
If you're familiar with traditional reverse osmosis systems, you may know that they typically send about 4 gals. of waste water down the drain for every single gallon of RO water produced.
The new MRS-Envi-RO 600 High Efficiency Reverse Osmosis system reverses those numbers, says Everpure, producing only 1 gal. of waste water for every 4 gals. of RO water. Thus Everpure quotes an 80% efficiency rate for the system, which means that in addition to wasting less water you'll save on sewer costs, too. Everpure's system features a flow rate of up to 0.7 gpm with a daily production capacity of about 600 gals. The MRS-Envi-RO's wall-mount design saves space, while its integrated 6-gal. tank reduces the need for a floor tank. Finally, the MRS-Envi-RO system's dual outputs provide two types of water: pure RO and RO mixed with filtered water.
HOW MANY WAYS CAN YOU SAVE WITH A FRYER?
You pay plenty to run a fryer, from energy to filtration supplies to oil. You use oil to fill the pot, then top it off, and then periodically replace the whole load. Frymaster's Protector Series fryersthe newer gas version is honored in this year's Kitchen Innovations programsave you money on all counts. First, the Gas Protector's 30-lb. frypot can generate as much product as a 50-lb. frypot, which represents a 40% reduction in oil usage, says Frymaster. And Protector extends oil life two ways: with an automatic replenishment system that tops off whenever needed, keeping oil fresher, longer, and with a computer that counts loads and tells you when you must filter. High-efficiency infrared burners ensure the Gas Protector exceeds Energy Star standards, and a solid-state 1" action thermostat maintains precise temp control, which maximizes oil life and produces uniformly cooked products.
DOUBLE-SIDED EQUALS HIGH PERFORMANCE
Garland's 2009 KI honoree is the Xpress Grill, a smart dual-surface grill designed to save time and money in a compact space. The Xpress Grill's upper and lower grill plates cook both sides of your product simultaneously and reduce traditional grill-cook times by up to 50%, says Garland. Precise temp controls ensure food is cooked to the appropriate core tempbacking you up on the food-safety frontand rapid preheat and recovery both save energy by allowing the grill to cool during idle periods. You get a temperature range of 150°F to 425°F, and timed cooking automatically begins when the upper platen touches a product. Features include ¾"-thick carbon steel griddle plates, auto lifting/lowering of platens, and separate programmable controllers for each 12" section.
VENTILATION: TRULY ON DEMAND
Halton's latest innovation is M.A.R.V.E.L., a demand control ventilation system that provides varying exhaust air and supply volumes based on appliance usage. It works like this: Multiple infrared cooking sensors detect changes in appliance temperature, and then those sensors respond proactively to changes in cooking status by adjusting exhaust and supply rates proportionately. Thus M.A.R.V.E.L. will automatically adjust single or multiple hoods independently operating on one common duct based on cooking activity. Halton says the system reduces energy usage anywhere from 15% to 50%, depending on hours of operation and variability of cooking processes. Add-on inputs allow for monitoring of other critical systems in the kitchen such as freezer and cooler temperature and compressor cycling. In addition M.A.R.V.E.L automatically detects and sends you a warning signal if exhaust hoods are being operated without a filter or if there are elevated temps under the hood.
FRUGAL FRYERS HERE
A penny saved is a penny earned, according to Ben Franklin. Henny Penny thinks so too, and that's just one reason for the honor bestowed on its Evolution Elite reduced-oil fryers. The new fryers can cook equivalent product loads using 40% less oil than standard 50-lb. fryers, the company says. The Evolution line has three key features: a SmartFilter Express system that lets you filter any vat in about 4 mins. while continuing to fry in other vats, an Oil Guardian auto top-off system that ensures consistent oil levels, and SmartFilter pads that extract both particulate and soluble impurities from the oil. Evolution Elite fryers are more than 85% efficient and have earned Energy Star approval. Oil management features, including melt mode, idle mode and filter tracking, contribute to energy savings while maximizing oil life. Choose from 2-, 3- and 4-well multi-fryers in either full or split-vat configurations.
Henny Penny Corp.
COMBI HONORED FOR BLUETOOTH
Hobart's addition of an optional Bluetooth-enabled bar code scanner and software kit to its Combi Oven line earned the company KI honors this year. The Combi Oven's onboard computer can be loaded with individual cooking recipes, and the scanner software makes it easy to transfer recipe programming to one or multiple ovens. The software guides users through as many as 10 phases of a recipe, allowing you to select cooking mode, temperature, length of time, humidity level and fan speed. Programmed recipes can be linked to an existing bar code on a food package or box, or the software can create a unique bar code for an unlimited number of recipes. Then you simply scan the bar code using the hand-held scanner, which automatically loads the recipe settings and starts the oven in preheat mode for that product. The process also allows recipes to be exported to any Bluetooth-enabled device such as a cell phone, PDA or laptop.
A MULTI APPOACH TO COLD HOLDING
The CP Multi Function Holding Cabinet combines control of temperature and humidity to allow for cold holding, freezing and the preserving of delicate chocolate items. Temperatures can be set from -22°F to 60°F and humidity from 40% to 95% so you can customize product holding, and you can change the settings at any time as needed. The CP Multi incorporates a mild ventilation system to help ensure compartment temps remain consistent, and a patented system called Sanigen completely sterilizes each section of the cabinet to eliminate refrigerator odors and block the transfer of flavors and aromas among foods being held. The unit is tall and deep to accommodate a high volume of product, and you can choose from solid- or glass-door fronts, with glass doors allowing a full view of dessert creations.
BLU EQUALS COLDAND EFFICIENT, TOO
Kairak, long known for thinking outside the conventional box, unveiled its new BLU chilling system a while back, and this year it earned Kitchen Innovations recognition for it. Designed for sandwich prep tables and pan chilling in general, BLU employs a glycol refrigerant that flows at low pressure through chiller plates that act as dividers between the pans, as opposed to conventional refrigeration coils that offer less transfer area. With BLU's more even chilling, the system can operate at a controlled temp above freezing, so there's no chance for frosting. Which means no defrosting, no fans, etc. It all adds up to proper, food-safe chilling at significantly lower energy consumption.
ENERGY SELF-MANAGEMENT COMES TO IMPINGEMENT
Quest EMS, Lincoln's new energy management approach, is an energy-saving system designed to maximize energy efficiency and optimize the performance of gas or electric burners in Impinger conveyor ovens. By reducing the volume of impingement air flow and optimizing burner or electric control settings, Quest is able to reduce overall energy consumption. The approach is simple: Operators manually engage the Quest system which in turn stops the conveyor and allows the fans to idle down to a lower rpm rating. Oven cavity temperature is not adjusted, which eliminates any delay in recovery. In addition, FastBake advanced impingement technology helps accelerate the rate of heat transfer, which results in significantly improved baking quality, reductions in bake times and increased energy savings, says Lincoln.
A STEAMER THAT'S BIG ON POWER, BIG ON GREEN
Everybody likes green, but what if you need really big production, too? Market Forge's 3500 Power Plus convection steamer lets you do what you need to do and cut environmental impact. The Power Plus, the first-ever boiler-based steamer to earn Energy Star recognition, reduces water consumption in the 10-pan models by about 80%, to about 20 gph compared to the usual 80. And that water reduction translates to lower bills for incoming water, sewer and deliming, not to mention a 20% reduction in the energy used to heat the water. Add in the built-in water filtration system, choice of gas or electric and optional 4- to 12-gal. tilting kettles, and you've got a production package that's hard to beat.
Market Forge Industries
BUBBLE, BUBBLE, NO FLATWARE TROUBLE
Flatware grime is nasty. It's stubborn. It takes soak sinks, labor time and/or multiple passes through warewashing to come loose. Well, no more. We've always been big fans of letting turbulent water do the work, and now Power Soak takes its swirling-water experience to a smaller package with its Silverware Pre-Wash System. In the space of a soak sink, the 16-gal. system uses swirling water, self-heat created by the moving water's own friction, and detergent to pre-wash silverware, leaving it ready for single-pass washing. The result is lower labor, fewer passes (less water load) and quicker flatware turnover.
FEAR LIME NO MORE!
Rational's never been one to rest on its combi's laurels. The combination oven-steamer over the years has added sophisticated controls to measure moisture and adjust temps and times for optimal cooking based on detecting conditions within the cavity. And now the SelfCooking Center adds CareControl, a system devised to tackle the maintenance end of combis. CareControl is an automatic cleaning system that detects when the cavity needs a wash-down. When it does, you just pop a CareTab wash tablet into a drawer, and the system does the rest. The tab combines chemicals to clean the cavity with solvents to de-lime the water and heat system, and in fact reduce lime buildup in the first place. The result is longer life for components and reduced service needs.
HIGH-SPEED WASTE REDUCTION
Food-waste handling is getting to be a bigger and bigger issue as landfills fill up and hauling fees rise. So what if you could reduce your compostable food waste (including paper and cardboard), say, 85% or 90%, and do it in, say, less than 24 hrs.? Then what if you could spread the remaining waste on your lawn or garden as fertilizer? Somat's eCorect Waste Reducer, intro'd last year and named a KI honoree this year, does just that. Available in several models to suit a variety of needs, the eCorect uses indirect heat and an agitator to speed up the drying and aeration of compostables. The result is garden-ready (or compost-facility ready) material, giving you the option of zero landfill impact. The unit comes with its own odor control system. All you need is an electrical outlet and some waste.
MIX-N-MATCH KITCHEN MODULARITY
Things change. You start out with a wall that doesn't seem to fit what you want. Or it fits, and then you need to change your cook line. Viking's tackled those problems with a modular system for cook lines and island suites that gives you virtually limitless flexibility. With Lego-like fit and versatility, the modular system offers more than 500 model-numbered combinations of shelves plus a choice of cheesemelters, range ovens, cabinet bases, refrigerated bases, fryers, hot tops, griddles, French tops, charbroilers, planchas and more. And even better: True modularity means combinations can be field modified down the road when your needs change.
BETTER HOLDINGAND SERVINGWITH MOISTURE
Much as in bigger hot-holding cabinets, a major issue for drawer-style hold-and-serves is keeping food warm without drying the life out of it. Winston has taken on the challenge by adapting its famed CVap controlled-humidity system to countertop drawer cabinets. Along with its superior humidified holding, the Universal Holding Bin also offers a variety of configurations to match menu and station-layout needsfour or eight bins each hold 2½"-deep shotgun pans or hotel pans. The UHB also offers easy programming and communicates with existing PC networks.