Editors’ Picks: 10 Products That Stole The Show

Is it us, or is foodservice equipment really getting smarter? In 2008 saw the introduction of items we’d never knew we’d see, including technologies that chill better, vent better, dispose better and generally make the lives of foodservice managers much easier and more efficient.

So in this NAFEM Show year (2009), and just two months before the NRA Show unveils this year’s Kitchen Innovations honorees, we take a look back at the show-stopping new equipment FER editors saw last year at domestic and international exhibitions.

Hats off to the R&D professionals who developed the items you’ll read about here. As editors we’ve learned that it’s one thing to talk about energy efficiency and environmentally responsible design, and quite another to put development resources behind the effort. The 10 companies represented here did just that last year, and the entire industry has benefited.

These items, listed in alphabetical order by company, were things we saw at shows and wrote up in our magazine pages throughout 2008. They caught our attention for many reasons, including making a specific job easier or safer, using less energy than previous models, or implementing new-think technology.

While you’re reviewing these developments, consider what you’ve just seen at The NAFEM Show and what may be ahead. With the calls for energy efficiency, work-place and food safety, and environmental responsibility escalating, we expect significant equipment introductions will become the norm at every show. As we head in that direction, we’ll keep hitting the trade-show circuit to find and bring you the best of what’s new and effective for commercial and noncommercial kitchens.

Last year we brought you details on the Capture Jet hood with Side-Jet technology. Halton says the technology provides a dynamic air jet around the open sides of the hood that increases face velocity, which allows for reduced exhaust rates and full capture and containment. This jet pushes the thermal plume toward the extractor while preventing spillage to your space. In addition all Capture Jet hoods come with high-efficiency (93% to 98% for grease particles less than 8 micron) Multi Cyclone grease extractors featuring low sound and pressure loss. Built-in testing and balancing ports make commissioning fast and accurate by enabling the reading of direct pressure from the hood. ETL, NSF.
Halton Co.

Hobart Corp. has added an optional Bluetooth-enabled bar code scanner and software kit to its Combi Oven line. The Combi Oven’s onboard computer can be loaded with individual cooking recipes, and now 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.
Hobart Corp.

Kairak, which has something of a reputation for developing new ways to attack chilling challenges, last year unveiled its next leap forward—BLU. Rather than the conventional approach to such things as sandwich prep and pan chilling in general, which usually involves coiled refrigeration lines, pressure, uneven temperatures, freezing, frost, defrosting and fans, BLU employs a glycol refrigerant that flows at low pressure through hollow chiller plates acting as dividers between the pans. Operating at a controlled temp above freezing, there’s no chance for frosting. Which means no defrosting, no fans, etc. And with broader temperature-transfer surfaces, chilling is much more even. It all adds up to proper, food-safe chilling with significantly lower energy consumption.

While following fryer developments last year we learned about the high-efficiency, low-oil volume Rocket fryer from Pitco Frialator/Middleby. The Rocket features continuous filtration and automatic crumb ejection, with both functioning completely free of operator intervention. Inside, oil is pumped through a multi-pass gas heat exchanger to create forced convection that sweeps freshly heated oil in between nestled food products, which Pitco says results in uniform cooking. The heat exchanger was developed in conjunction with the Gas Technology Institute and the California Energy Commission. Meanwhile, filtration takes place automatically and continuously while the Rocket is in operation. And the Crumb Ejection System removes crumbs and ejects them from the filter chamber into what Pitco calls the "remote cold zone" basket, even as product is frying.

Here’s a sneak preview of a German product we spotted at the Hogatec show in Dusseldorf, Germany. The Qube is a bar device that automatically mixes cocktails at the touch of a button. It lets you serve more drinks without hiring more bartenders, provides perfect portion control, boosts drink sales and functions as a self-service unit at catering events. The Qube features a large, easy-to-read display, programmable software and three preset menus. The aluminum and stainless steel carousel holds up to 12 bottles, with no need for tubes or pumps. Built-in detectors monitor liquid amount and the presence of cups. You can opt for action-dependent process-steered lighting. The maker is seeking NSF approval and expects to begin exporting to the U.S. market as early as this spring.
The Qube

Ice cream? Check. M&Ms? Check. Chopped nuts? Check. Frostation? Check. Your mix-to-order ice cream road show is now ready for your next high-end catering event. Frostation, created by Satellite Cooling, features two tabletop modules and one under-table cooling mechanism. On the table, the Ice Cream Server and Mix-In Tray are linked by flexible cooling lines, which are attached to an under-table turbo-cooled recirculator. Chilled thermal solution flows through each unit, keeping the mix-in tray frosty cold and the ice cream at serving temperature for as long as needed (or until the ice cream runs out). The system is easy to use and reliable.
Satellite Cooling Co.

One of the new items we saw from Servend/Manitowoc last year was the Servend Flav’r Pic drink dispenser, a new entry into the burgeoning custom-drink market for c-stores and other self-serve operations. Compact and efficient, the unit offers self-servers a choice of cube or crushed ice, 16 different soft drink selections, plus a choice of eight different flavor infusions—all in a footprint just 30" wide. Ice storage capacity comes in at 250 lbs., the patented Rocking Chute ice dispense technology comes standard, and lighted graphics create the beverage message you want to convey.

Looking for a way to dispose of waste without burdening landfills? Check out the eCorect from Somat Corp. First seen at last year’s NRA Show, the new eCorect rapidly dehydrates food waste and compostable disposables to produce a humus-rich soil amendment without the use of enzymes, fresh water or venting and with no other byproducts. Using a multistage indirect heat and dry composition process, the machine reduces the weight and volume of food waste and scraps by up to 90%, says Somat, and recycles those food wastes into a high-quality organic soil amendment in 12 to 18 hours. Then you can use that soil amendment—which comes out resembling coffee grounds—to fertilize the plant and flower beds on your property. The eCorect does not require plumbing connections or ventilation and features an integrated odor management system.
Somat Corp.

TurboChef turned up the development dial when it designed the new i5 oven. Relying on the same microwave-assisted speedy cooking technology of the Tornado oven, the i5 goes a step further in terms of air flow. While the Tornado deliver bursts of impinged air only from the top, the i5’s jet plates deliver impinged air in precise bursts from the top and bottom for a uniform cook. Meanwhile, microwaves launch from the top for a quick cook of a variety of products. The i5 also offers a larger capacity than Tornado, lets you program 200 recipes, and is fully compatible with all standard metal pans up to 6" deep. A catalytic converter means you can put the oven anywhere without ventilation concerns.

If you’re in the quick-service business—or any business that requires a super-fast griddle—take a look at the Vulcan Rapid Recovery Griddle, or the 36RRG for short. Vulcan has developed a proprietary composite griddle plate that delivers fast heat transfer, and the company says the unit can exceed the production capacity of a standard steel griddle plate by as much as 27.5%.The RRG’s composite griddle plate also delivers uniform corner-to-corner temperature control, says Vulcan, and a temperature range of 150°F to 450°F.The stainless griddle surface eases cleaning, and quick recovery rapidly gets you back to griddling your next batch of product. Vulcan says the RRG exceeds the energy-efficiency requirements mandated by the Federal Energy Management Program purchase guidelines.
Vulcan-Hart Co.

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