Foodservice Equipment Reports

NRA Announces 2015 Kitchen Innovations Award Honorees

The Kitchen Innovations Class of 2015 has been unveiled.

The class is comprised of 23 recipients of the National Restaurant Association’s KI Awards, which honor equipment and technologies that increase productivity for back-of-house operations and benefit restaurant operators through advancements in food safety, cook-time efficiency and energy conservation.

The KI Award recipients reflect the trends and topics most important to foodservice operators, offering innovations that specifically address water-waste reduction and enhanced energy efficiency, increased safety and sanitation, cross-functionality, faster cook times, space constraints, even ergonomics and smart technology that learns and adapts to various conditions.

This year’s recipients are:

Champion Industries: Foodwaste Reduction System.  The system can process all organics, including produce, fruits, cut flowers, meat, fat trimmings, paper napkins, coffee grounds, spoiled milk, deli products and some soft plastics, reducing organic waste volume by as much as 95%.

Dagda Technologies: FryerGate. This NSF-certified safety cover protects employees from severe deep-fryer burns by providing a spring-loaded barrier against dropped objects or slipped extremities, all without slowing down the cooking operation. 

Duke Mfg. Co.: FlexTech Advanced Food Holding Platform. A patented Atomized Humidity Generation System and specially designed internal vent-duct panels extend fried-product holding times, maintain quality and freshness longer, reduce food waste and increase product availability by 10-15%.

Ecolab: Syncra Total Hand Hygiene System. This automated, touch-free, water-and-soap delivery system follows a strict, yet adjustable, 3-step hygiene process while using 50% less water than traditional handwashing.

Edlund Co.: Titan Max-Cut. Four prep options—cutting, coring, wedging and dicing—in a single manual machine saves operators space and food prep time; they just swap out the quick-change pusher and cartridge and move on to the next task.

EnviroPure Systems: EnviroPure Ozone Recirculation System. Using gray water extracted from food waste to facilitate its grinding and digestion, this system eliminates the need for fresh water to be added to the aerobic organic digester, which saves up to 400 gal. of water per day.

Evo Inc.: EVent Ductless Downdraft Ventilation Cooking Station. An internally ducted, self-contained downdraft recirculating ventilation system allows this electric cooktop to remove enough airborne grease vapor (less than one part per million escaped), smoke and cooking odors from the cooking surface to be used anywhere without an externally vented air system.

Franke: Franke Air Purification System (APS300). This affordable, self-contained system mounts inside walk-in coolers, scrubbing the existing air of microbes, ethylene, hydrocarbons and other contaminants to reduce odors and extend the shelf life of prepared foods and produce.

Frymaster/Manitowoc Foodservice: FilterQuick with Oil Quality Sensor. These gas and electric fryers feature patented, integrated oil-quality sensors that take the guesswork out of oil replacement by automatically monitoring oil health by measuring its total polar materials.

Hestan Commercial Corp.: Longitudinal Modular Salamander/Cheesemelter/Shelving System. Hung without permanent hardware by means of unique, hook-like brackets of heavy-duty steel for optimum rigidity and durability, this modular shelving and broiler system has the flexibility to be placed anywhere on the line for maximum functionality.

Hestan Commercial Corp.: Tri-Ferrous French Top with Maximum Center Temperature & Gradient. A thick-gauge, fully welded stainless radiant cone around its 35,000-Btu/hour gas burner traps and focuses radiant and convective heat, providing 1000°F+  at center to as low as 320°F at the edges, the highest temperature delta of any French Top.

Hobart: Hobart FT1000 Flight-Type Dish Machine. The first and only ventless flight-type dish machine in the marketplace boasts technological innovations, such as Automatic Soil Removal, Auto Clean and Auto Delime, to reduce water, energy, labor and chemical expenditures.

HydroFLOW U.S.A./Genuine Energy Solutions: HydroFLOW Water Conditioners. These chemical-free products use induced-signal and continuously conditioning Hydropath Technology to dissolve and remove lime scale in appliances and piping systems, kill bacteria and algae in water systems and boost filtration efficiency.

Ice Link Inc.: Ice Link. Vacuum technology and optic sensors allows auto-transport of cubed and nugget ice at 30 ft. per second from a central ice-production area to a variety of remote locations within the same building, vertically up to four stores and horizontally up to 350 ft.

Manitowoc Foodservice: Merrychef eikon e4s with Panini Grill. This semi-automated, non-stick attachment, easily removable for cleaning, flattens and/or generates grill marks on a range of products, including bread, proteins and vegetables, all while taking advantage of Merrychef’s rapid-cook technology.

The Montague Co.: R290 Glycol Ice and Heat Sauté Station. Four 30,000-BTU gas burners, a glycol raised-rail pan chiller and a two-drawer refrigerated base boost the power of this 48-in. sauté station.

Ovention Inc.: Ovention M360 Oven. This compact oven’s breakthrough rapid-cook technology relies on precision impingement rather than microwaves to provide ventless operation and preparation of 1,000 menu items, each with different cook times and heat profiles.

RATIONAL USA: SelfCookingCenter 5 Senses. This intelligent cooking system communicates with its operator from preheat to unloading; its suite of proprietary technologies can measure food size, load quantity and product condition and automatically set temperature, cooking time, air speed and cabinet climate.

Schaerer Ltd.: Schaerer Coffee Art C HC. The push of a button on the system’s 7-in. programmable touchscreen offers speedy bean-to-cup hot coffee and—using a propriety chilling technology to prevent ice melt or dilution—iced coffee similar in strength to drip filter but ground straight from the bean.

ThermalRite: Sanisteel Anti-Bacterial Slip-Resistant Flooring. This NSF-certified flooring has a pre-coated finish that kills and prevents 99.9% of all bacteria, mold, algae and fungi and boasts a slip resistance that exceeds all other pre-fabricated walk-in flooring options.

True Food Service Equipment: Hydrocarbon (R290) Natural Refrigerant Reach-In Refrigerators/Freezers. Combining state-of-the-art compressors and components with all-natural, energy-efficient and environmentally friendly refrigerant, these reach-ins cut energy consumption substantially, while maintaining food safety and quality.

Varimixer: KODIAK Planetary Mixer. The first planetary mixer to be designed with customer input, the 30-qt. ergonomically correct machine features a wider, shallower bowl for better sight lines, an intuitive control panel and an easy-clean 3-in-1 splash guard/safety guard/ingredient chute, making it the most hygienic mixer available.

Wilpack Packaging: Seal-A-Cup Cup Sealing System. This lightweight, portable cup sealer uses heat and pressure to apply a tamper-evident seal in seconds, preventing spillage and sealing in freshness and extended product life.

Each recipient and their product will be showcased in the interactive Kitchen Innovations Pavilion at the 2015 Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show, May 16-19 in Chicago. For more information about the KI program and this year's award recipients, visit

The 2015 Kitchen Innovations judges were: Dan Bendall, FCSI, principal-FoodStrategy Inc.; Martin Cowley, senior manager-design and standards, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts; William Eaton, FFCSI, chairman-Cini-Little Int’l.; Foster F. Frable Jr., FCSI, founding partner- Clevenger Frable LaVallee; Jim Krueger Jr., CMCE, NRAMF, chief-Air Force Food & Beverage Business Development & Strategic Initiatives; Aaron LaMotte, director-Sodexo Performance Interiors; Robert Marshall, v.p.-U.S. operations, McDonald’s Corp. (retired); Steve Otto, director-capital equipment purchasing, Darden; Kathleen H. Seelye, FFCSI, LEED, managing partner-Ricca Newmark Design.

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