By Brian Ward
SPECIAL REPORT: Fresh Thinking Marks Smallwares Winners
Real functional advancesin convenience, or sanitation, or durabilityscore big with judges whove been there, done that.
Lets face it: The finest kitchen layout with the best equipment package in the world wont do it alone. You need the right staffers, and they in turn need the right smallwares.
More sophisticated operations (and better manufacturing science) have driven great advances in smallwares in recent years. Traditional pocket thermometers still cut it in certain uses, for example, but even they have become more sophisticated. A huge leap in food-safety awareness has netted you great advances in thermal meters of all kinds. Temp isnt the only issue anymoreits time and temp, and logging, too. Not to mention water-proofing. You want it all? You can probably get itall in one compact hand tool.
High-heat plastics, too, have emerged in smallwares, with subtle but real implications for food handling, food safety and warewashing labor. And cutting tools? Theyre not at all your fathers dull pocketknife. Antibacterial materials now show up in everything from cutting boards to knife handles, as well as several equipment items. And the shapes and weighting of just about everything are better these days, with better ergonomics for better labor efficiency. The list of recent advances goes on and on.
So for our third annual smallwares competition, we put out the call. Send us your new-think, we said, introduced after the 1999 National Restaurant Association Show. Send us whats lighter, faster, more durable. Send us newly evolved pieces for labor savings, food safety and personnel safety. Send us the smallwares that solve problems nobody even recognized just a few years ago.
Thats What Judges Are For
And so it was that the two experienced multiunit operators and the three seasoned dealer smallwares specialists assembled their scores. They looked for problem-solving value, durability, ergonomics, labor savings, and food and health safety.
When the scores were tallied, 10 products had emerged big winners. On the pages that follow, reviews of those 10, as well as all the finalists.
And The Envelopes, Please
Cooper Instruments, too, scored big on the food-safety front. Judges gave high marks to the GL100 Mini Data Logger, a neat reusable thermal sensor/logger. One judge called it, simply, a great idea. Another liked it because it gives you a (data) trail to follow.
A Palm-Size Logger, Nifty Sticky-Backs
Other neat features on the G-2: choice of short 16 or long 22 bar, welded stainless steel shaft, stainless reversible blade, Melonite arbor for rust resistance and an S-11 style delrin bushing for smooth operation.
The next winner caused some confusion, to tell the truth. Was it a smallware, or was it light equipment? The lines blur these days, so we passed it onto the finalist round with a question mark. Good thing, too, because judges ruled it a smallwareand ruled it a winner, as well. The latest update on the FASTRON fryer controller, a solid-state unit by Food Automation-Service Techniques, gets you a neat added piece of software to improve product flavor and extend shortening/oil life by as much as 25%. F.A.S.T.s shortening management feature prompts operators to filter the frying medium at predetermined intervals. Another goody: a setback feature that lowers idle temp during slow periods, an advantage said to extend life by as much as 50%.
A Mysterious Beeping Package, A Worried UPS Man
Lincoln Foodservice Products HardCoat fry pan line won praise as a solution to the age-old hassle of warping. The black anodized finish comes via an electro-chemical bonding process that unites the surface with an aluminum base. The process retains the best advantages of aluminum, while strengthening the metal against heat warping (30% harder than stainless steel), and it also enhances stick resistance.
Cleaning, needless to say, is a big advantage. Even a steel scouring pad and metal utensils wont damage the surface. The HardCoats are available in a full range of sizes.
Judges literally leaned forward and huddled as they passed around the finalist from Spring U.S.A. Hey, this is a decent product, one said. Good nonstick quality, another said. A third, whod recently seen the product in the field, also noted decent pricing.
The Endurance Forgecast aluminum induction cookware appears to forge an answer to all the usual issues in induction cookware. Spring put a stainless steel base layer to the pan to make the contact surface ferrous, and therefore compatible with induction cooking. But beyond that, the base is then mated to the rest of the pan, which is aluminum for advantages in light weight, conductivity, etc.
The result is a lightweight aluminum pan suitable for induction, with more durability than conventional aluminum pan bodies and a DuPont SilverStone nonstick surface. All at an aluminum-type pricing advantage.
The tenth and final winner, the biggest piece in the competition, also shared honors for the highest score in the judging, too. Univex Corp.s high-speed PerfectPeeler wont be showing up at corner bistros, but for high-volume melon operations, judges declared, this is one very handy item for slashing labor in troublesome manual melon peeling and boosting output. In fact, Univex estimates that operators handling 100 melons per day will see a payback in 60 days.
The PerfectPeeler melon peeler starts with a sturdy-legged base. A studded wheel on the base grips the rind of a halved melon and rotates the melon through two curved blades. One blade cuts out the center seed area, while the other blade cuts the fruit from the rind. The separated rind, fruit and seeds fall through the base, which straddles a suitable container. Univex clocks the whole process at about 20 seconds for an average size melon, either cantaloupe, honeydew or papayawhich looks about right based on our own ham-fisted demo efforts. We can see hotel buffet operators, for example, lining up for this one.
Read more about the Smallwares/Tabletop Contest
New Shapes, Cool Colors Woo The Judges
3rd Annual Supplies Awards
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