Foodservice Equipment Reports

SPECIAL REPORT: 2012 NRA Kitchen Innovations Award Recipients


Developed for a supermarket that had 20 rotisserie chickens cooking at a time allAltoshaam day long, Alto-Shaam’s patent-pending Combitherm Automatic Grease Collection System discharges grease and by-products from a holding area into an external collection container. The pump is electronically activated during cooking. A series of baffles separates grease from water in the conditioning tank then pumps it into collection containers, which can be rolled to a disposal site on a 28½”x11 3/16” cart with a 37”-high push handle. Water goes down the drain. The grease containers are transparent, so you know when they’re full. It’s available only on Alto-Shaam’s 714ESI electric boilerless combis.



If you now buy local meat and poultry and do your own breading (maybe creating aBettcher signature spice mix?), you know it takes a lot of time and effort to achieve a professional-grade coating. Bettcher’s Optimax Batter Breading Machine is the first automatic device for applying batter and breading to foods to be baked or fried. Designed to apply an even coat and shake off excess breading, users claim it extends fryer oil life by 10% when cooking chicken. To meet the sanitizing challenge of this kind of equipment, all pieces come apart and can go into a dishmachine. Compared to hand-battering and breading, the Optimax reduces labor by 2/3, according to the company.

Bettcher Industries, Inc.


SinAqua Waterless Food Holding System is a simple drop-in holding well for 2½”-Cooktek or 4”-deep standard (or Gastronorm) magnetic hotel pans—and that’s right, waterless means it needs no water! Take it anywhere you can plug it in (dedicated 100-125VAC, 15-amp circuit). CookTek developed a special so that standard pans could be used with induction. Spring-loaded sensor buttons detect the presence of 1, 2 or 3 pans (1/1, ½ or 1/3 pans) and activate induction heating at same or different temps, as needed. Hold timer also starts when the pan is inserted into well. It uses half the energy of a wet well and has a 3-yr. warranty.



ActiveView HDI (Health Department Intelligence) is unusual for a KI because this isEcolab Active an innovative service. Local health departments have evolved the U.S. Food Code’s standard 54 questions used in an inspection into anywhere from 20 to 200 questions. How do you compare performance from one of your units to another? Ecolab found that some chains do not routinely receive inspection reports from the field (especially bad ones), so Ecolab’s ActiveView collects copies of inspection reports for them from 90% of the 2,550 U.S. Health Departments. The program standardizes data back to the FDA criteria so that reports are consistent, and sends data and analysis to management in a secure website.

Ecolab USA Inc.


If you want fewer flies indoors, reduce them around outdoor breeding sites Ecolab Fly(including the dumpster area) with Ecolab’s Stealth Fly Station. It’s a much more pleasant alternative to disgusting sticky fly traps. Entomologists at Ecolab’s Pest Elimination Division spent a great deal of time studying fly behavior to figure out not only what attracts them (odors and females), but what would get them to land and make contact with pesticide. The resulting shiny black surface with a “media” of fermented food-based material combines to attract the little buggers, killing 90% of them. The unit reduces the indoor fly population by up to 50%.

Ecolab USA Inc.


The Ice Safety Solution consists of a small retrofittable ozone generator. It attaches to the incoming water line and creates ozone in the ice machine water supply using a recently-developed electrolysis method (originally developed for a Japanese railway for toilet sanitizing). The water becomes a sanitizing agent, as do the ice cubes. Ozone is gradually released as ice melts and sanitizes the bin, drain and even upper interior corners. The electrolysis cartridge has an indicator lamp to signal replacement time (6 to 12 mos., depending on use by the operator). The Ice Safety Solution is only for cube machines, not flakers or nuggets.

Franke Foodservice Systems, Inc.


Frontline sells systems to manage cooking oil, so the company knows what can happen when workers have to handle new and used oil. President John Palazzo developed a fresh oil pump station to take oil from any vendor-supplied boxes or jugs through pipelines to the fryers; boxes and jugs store upside down on the Box System rack, increasing yield 10% and optimizing storage space. Frontline also specializes in automatic, semi-automatic and manual waste oil collection and disposal.

Frontline International


Frymaster’s 1814 G/E Large Vat Fryers apply the oil-conserving technology of theFrymaster company’s OCF 30 units to optimize the frying area of this large-vat unit: the frypot cooks 3, slightly shortened baskets of food at the same time in an 18”x14” area. Two 1814 fryers have the capacity of 3 standard 50-lb. fryers. Larger heat transfer tubes save energy. The controller stores up to 40 recipes. The sediment collection area is reduced in size; with a built-in filter, there was more space than needed for sediment collection. Electric model holds 63 lbs. of oil, gas holds 60 lbs.

Frymaster, LLC/Manitowoc


Highly energy efficient and speedy, Garland’s induction griddle comes to full Garlandtemperature in less than 3 mins. (5kW model), and recovers temperature (after adding frozen burgers, for example) in 2 mins. without overshooting. Thanks to Garland’s RTCSmp with multiple temperature sensors, heat distribution across the griddle is uniform to +/- 1° and it instantly responds to a new temperature setting. Overheat sensors help prevent damage to the unit. Deflectors keep hot exhaust from being pulled back into the unit. Available in 3.5kW and 5kW tabletop models—both have a 19.1” x 13.6” ceramic cooking top.

Garland Commercial Ranges Ltd.


The OmniFlex Dispense-and-Vac System is a well-thought-out package: a wetvac on wheels rests atop a 10-gal. bucket on a handled trolley. Employees mix cleaning chemicals in the bucket and they dispense from a spigot at its base while walking the trolley through the kitchen. With a long-handled squeegee/brush, the floor washer spreads cleaning solution and scrubs the floor, even under low shelving and equipment. Next, the employee plugs in the vac, attaches the vac hose to the squeegee/brush and vacuums up all the wet stuff. The spigot opens to drain into a slop sink. The two pieces can be used separately to divide tasks.

Kaivac, Inc.

Kitchens to GoKITCHEN IN A BOX

With Bolt On Kitchen, you can have a permanent or temporary modular, pre-constructed, code-compliant turnkey kitchen attached to an existing building. Units can cost 30% less than conventional construction, or you can opt to lease. Bolt On Kitchens are designed to be temporary facilities during remodeling, permanent reallocations of space, or simply expanded production space. Foodservice professionals work with the client to jointly design and develop a commercial kitchen with a custom-finished interior, custom cookline, exhaust and makeup air system; the exterior matches the existing building. Emergency “fleet” units are ready for installation in as little as 2 weeks.

Kitchens to Go/Carlin Mfg.


It still looks like a range top, but there’s a domed button at the center of selectLang burners. When a pan is placed on the burner, depressing the button, a microswitch opens the gas valve and a standing pilot lights the gas. Remove the pan, the flame goes out. Designed to reduce gas consumption, the mechanism is available as an option on Lang’s GHP countertop range series (2-, 4-, 6- and 8-burner models); choose it on all burners or just the back burners. If your cooks have a tendency to leave burners burning blue all day, you can save some energy and reduce HVAC requirements.

Lang Mfg.


In the Merrychef eikon Rapid Cook Oven Series (combining microwave and Merrychefconvection), Planar Plume Technology directs heated air from the top corners of the oven at a 45° angle toward the food. The “planes” or sheets of heated air collide above the food and are drawn around the food. The result: even heating and browning, faster heat transfer, less microwave destruction on the food, lower blower speed and higher energy efficiency. Built-in catalytic converters can eliminate the need for ventilation (as allowed by local codes). Temp range is 212°F to 527°F. An icon-driven, color touchscreen control panel can store up to 1,024 multi-stage recipe programs.

Merrychef USA/Manitowoc


Kitchens are not quiet; timers, buzzers, pots, pans and general people noisesPowersoak abound. So Power Soak devised an alert system that is language-neutral and silent yet effectively attracts attention to a variety of messages regarding the scullery’s warewashing processes. Color-coded lights beam onto the floor to indicate 20+ different messages, which are customizable to each operator though a combination of 3 LEDs: for example, the color blue indicates action related to the wash tank, red for sanitizing actions, and green for other actions needed. An optional remote wireless light can be installed elsewhere in the kitchen and can be aimed either up or down (whichever is most noticeable), but out of sight of customers.

Power Soak


Rational’s SelfCookingCenter with HiDensityControl allows chefs to maximize output, since they can load up to 30% more food into the same size cooking cabinet without sacrificing consistency. With efficient LevelControl, each tray’s temperature is individually monitored and the oven intelligently adjusts the cooking time and fan speed depending upon the load size as well as how often and how long the door is left open. Rational’s Whitefficiency technology reduces overall energy consumption by up to 20% and cuts production time by up to 30% compared to conventional combi ovens.

Rational USA Inc.


Relying on humans to track safety violations creates a host of problems such as Sealed Airinconsistency, impartiality and cost. Through Vision Enabled Training, ceiling-mounted webcams monitor employees’ use of gloves and hair restraints throughout the workday and note each time a safety violation occurs. Sophisticated software analyzes images recorded by the webcams recognizing the absence or presence of gloves and/or hats. Individuals may or may not be identified (by wearing a RFID tag, for example). Compliance reports are available to management on Sealed Air’s website or can be distributed immediately. Operators can use the information in training, to identify repeat offenders or to establish new procedures.

Sealed Air


If you feed more than 50 people on a regular basis, it might make sense to install Springboard Biodiesel’s BioPro EX. It makes ASTM-D6571-grade biodiesel from any vegetable or animal oil for $0.95/gal. Kitchen waste oil goes through a 300-micron filter into a 50-gal.- or 100-gal.-capacity machine. When at capacity, add chemicals, turn it on and in 24 hrs., you have fuel that is 78% cleaner than regular diesel and can be mixed with or used in place of regular diesel with no engine modifications. ROI is less than 6 mos.

Springboard Biodiesel, LLC


Vitamix has automated the frozen treat mix-in machine so that it can perfectly incorporate candies, syrups, cookies, etc. into softserve ice cream or yogurt without altering them. The Automatic Mix’n Machine uses a specially designed spoon as the mixing spindle; the spoon is offset to reach the center and sides of the container for thorough blending. At the end of the mixing cycle, the spoon is ejected into the container for the customer to use. When operating, the cup holder automatically raises and lowers the cup. The programmable machine ensures consistency even when customer-operated.



VTEC Infrared Charbroiler, the first of Vulcan’s IRX (InfraRed eXtreme) line, uses a Vulcanpatented stainless burner design. It eliminates the problems associated with older ceramic tile infrared burners that are easy to clog and subject to breakage. The VTEC burner is corrosion resistant, impervious to spills and resistant to thermal shock. The infrared unit consumes up to 50% less gas than similar units. Temps across the 11”x25” cooking grid are within 20°F to 30°F, allowing full use of the cooking surface. The burner construction incinerates all drippings to ash, eliminating flare-ups and making clean-up a matter of brushing off the grill. In lieu of a standing pilot, a rotary piezo provides direct spark ignition. Available with 1 to 5 burner zones, each with separate controls.

Vulcan Equipment


Small products can make a big difference. Take the poor disher well, where portioning utensils rest between servings. After a major U.S. chain was cited for wasting water through its 7,000 disher wells (453 mil. gals. a year!), Wells developed a simple solution. Instead of letting water flow constantly, why not stopper the well, heat the water in it to 155°F and change the water once an hour, saving 180 gals. per day per well? The bottom heater plugs into a 210V outlet under the counter and the unit is retrofittable to standard dipper well cut-outs.

Wells Mfg./Middleby Corp.


Devised by a baker (with an engineering background) who spent way too much time prepping zest (and suffering aching wrists and cuts), the Spin Zester looks like a sophisticated version of an antique apple-peeler. Using microblades and a tension mechanism, the device removes just the zest in just under 12 secs. with a manual crank. The tension can be adjusted for different sized fruit—lemons to grapefruit. It secures to a countertop with a suction mechanism able to withstand 100 lbs. of pressure and comes apart for cleaning—plastic components can go into dishmachine.

ZipZester, LLC

Related Articles

NRA Announces 21 Kitchen Innovations Award Recipients

NRA Announces 21 Kitchen Innovations Awards Recipients

SPECIAL REPORT: Behind The Scenes: The NRA Kitchen Innovations Judging Process

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