“Where are the limes? Does anyone have a lime?” The unusual request came halfway through the judging process during FER’s 2016 Smallwares Competition held in August at the new Event Center at The Boelter Cos.’ SuperStore, Milwaukee. One chef/operator judge was skeptical about a hand-held citrus juicer maker’s claim that the unit extracted more juice than competitors’ devices. A Boelter employee was dispatched to a nearby grocer. When the limes arrived, the new Chef’n FreshForce Citrus Juicer and a conventional hand-held juicer (available from the Boelter’s test kitchen supplies) were put to the test as the entire judging team watched. And yes—the challenger lived up to its promise. Read more about it further down.
The competition assembled the usual broad array of the latest in really cool kitchen tools. Some 17 products from a total of 21 entries made the final cut.
This year’s Smallwares finalists included thermometers (a CDN thermometer that floats, a DeltaTrak data logger with a built-in USB connector), timers from CDN and Escali, a pair of French-style coffee presses—from Frieling and Service Ideas—featuring improved filter screens, Carlisle’s countertop containers designed to chill 1-qt. milk cartons and whipped cream cans, a nifty ice cream spade by Vollrath with a ridged handle and pleasing heft, an eye-catching red-handled knife by Friedr. Dick, and from Nemco, a cast-aluminum vegetable noodler (ideal for restaurants catering to low-carb and veggie-centric diners), to name a few. Chicago Metallic submitted an eye-catching, lavender-colored baking pan—purple to indicate allergen-free utensils and tools. A Taylor digital scale, updated squeeze bottles by TableCraft and a SCA napkin dispenser designed for drive-thru applications all attracted scrutiny.
Since Boelter’s Event Center featured a test/display kitchen, judges were able to actually dry-test one entry—FMP’s Universal Griddle Rail—by fitting it on the handy four-burner range on the cookline. Another entry—Lowry’s Scorch Shield—was also walked over to the range to see how it would be deployed.
Six industry experts—three chef/operators and three dealers—were asked to evaluate each product’s innovativeness, how well it solved a problem, its food or labor safety aspects and its durability.
No one pulled punches. “This has too many parts—the first time it’s cleaned, the washers would vanish,” judges commented about several items. “I don’t think the coating on this item would last through regular use,” noted a judge about another item. “The beeper on this timer needs to be louder,” said another judge.
Smallwares eligible for FER’s annual competition include handheld, nonelectric kitchen tools created for commercial foodservice use. The category covers cookware and food prep items, cleaning devices, food safety items and so on. To qualify, the products had to be new to the market as of the May 2015 National Restaurant Association Show.
Keep reading for full details about the winners and finalists in FER’s 2016 Smallwares Competition, listed on the following pages in alpha order by manufacturer.
Introducing The 2016 Smallwares Winners:
Carlisle FoodService Products earned admiring glances plus a spot in the winners’ circle with its Coldmaster 1-Qt. Chiller & Whipped Cream Chiller. The thick-walled, chillable units keep 1-qt. milk cartons and whipped cream cans cold for up to 8 hr. All you have to do is pre-freeze the containers overnight, then fill them with pre-chilled product. “These chillers solve a common problem for coffee stations,” one judge commented. “Great products for buffets,” noted another.
Coldmaster 1-Qt. Chiller & Whipped Cream Chiller—Carlisle FoodService Products
High-end tea brewing takes precision, and that’s where CDN’s innovative Tea Timer comes into play. The handheld unit is pre-programmed with steeping times for green, white, black and herbal teas, allowing each type of tea to reveal its unique flavor, minus bitterness. Multiple channels let you time different types of tea at once. Each channel has its own alarm sound. The Tea Timer can double as an all-purpose timer, too, with count-up and countdowns measured in hr., min. and sec. Large, easy-to-read numbers add to its usefulness. “Tea is one of the hottest new trends in high-end beverages,” remarked one judge, giving high marks to the device.
Chef’n FreshForce Citrus Juicer, one of the few products to be put to an actual food-test during the Smallwares Competition, features a dual-gear mechanism that boosts juice-extraction power on lemons, limes and oranges. As our judges observed, the device successfully pressed out more juice than the traditional manual citrus press on hand in Boelter’s kitchen. (The contender even extracted extra juice from the already-squeezed lime done in the traditional unit.) The longer arms of the FreshForce Citrus Juicer allow it to be operated with less wrist strain. The juicer comes in 3 sizes/colors—for limes, lemons and oranges—and is dishwasher safe.
FreshForce Citrus Juicer—Chef’n/Taylor Precision Products
Our three chef/operator judges took advantage of the Boelter test kitchen’s nearby range when evaluating FMP’s Universal Griddle Rail. They did a quick install of the unit, discussed its many possibilities and gave the versatile rail a thumbs up. FMP’s griddle rail holds toppings and garnishes, squeeze bottles, shakers and cooking utensils to promote a more productive cookline while maximizing griddle workspace. Easily remove the rail, made from sturdy stainless, for cleaning. The rail adjusts to fit most griddle makes and models. It plays also well with 1/9-, 1/6-, and 1/3-sized steam table pans. The rail is easy to install and can be reset with only minor adjustments after the initial installation.
Universal Griddle Rail—FMP/Franklin Machine Products
The Vollrath Co.’s Extended Handle Ice Cream Spade allows operators to easily reach deeper into ice cream tubs and gelato pans. The handle comes encapsulated with anti-freeze, which helps release ice cream from the scoop bowl. Made of durable cast aluminum, the ice cream spade is ideal for scraping down the sides of ice cream tubs and smoothing off the top layer of ice cream for serving. Ideal for right- or left-handed use, the ice cream spade handle includes an ergonomic texture for better grip. “The squared-off end will be helpful when digging into hard-frozen ice cream,” one judge observed. “Love its heavy-duty feel,” said another judge.
Extended Handle Ice Cream Spade—The Vollrath Co.
The 2016 Smallwares Finalists:
CDN’s new Floating Thermometer offers exact temperature measurements needed in liquid situations: in bains-marie, brewers, as well as vessels for soups, sauces and stews. With an easy-to-read, 1-in.W display, the unit measures temperatures from 20°F-220°F. This waterproof floating unit is dishwasher safe thanks to sturdy stainless housing and a polycarbonate lens.
THE PANS, THEY’RE PURPLE
No, your eyes do not deceive. The latest bakeware from Chicago Metallic comes in a delicate shade of purple. With its distinctly lavender-colored DuraShield 265U fluoropolymer coating, this bakeware collection provides operators with an easy visual ID of allergen-free utensils, minimizing cross-contamination risks. The Allergen Management Pans come in 11 varieties and sizes.
TRACKS TEMPS LIKE A DETECTIVE
DeltaTrak’s FlashLink PDF Multi-Use Data Logger tracks and logs temperature-sensitive products during processing, shipping and storage, taking the place of old-fashioned written chart recorders. Two buttons are used to start, stop and re-set the logger. Retrieving data is as easy as slotting the unit’s USB connecter into a computer or printer and downloading the encrypted PDF report.
TOUCH N’ TIME IT
The Escali Touch Screen Digital Timer helps you multitask in the kitchen and features a large back-light display that is easy to read under any lighting condition. Count up or down, and recall previous timer settings for repetitive tasks. Available in a selection of colors.
German blade manufacturer Friedr. Dick submitted the Tanto knife, the newest addition to its Red Spirit Series. The knife’s 2-phased cutting edge and angular, sword-like appearance make the blade a go-to chef’s tool. Tanto’s rounded, signature red handle sports non-slip, high-quality plastic.
SCORCH BE GONE
Lowry’s Cooking Solutions Scorch Shield is a low-profile metal shield that fits over gas burners to even out heat distribution, reducing chances of scorching, burning, hot spots and boil-overs. Made from porcelain enamel-coated heavy gauge steel, the unit is easy to clean. Use the shield with any gas flame height and temperature, and with all cookware sizes.
Lowry’s Cooking Solutions
NOODLE ME THIS
Is low-carb, gluten-free a “thing” at your eatery? Nemco’s new Easy Vegetable Noodler cranks out high volumes of zucchini noodles with the turn of a handle. The counter-mounted, cast-aluminum tool slices firm vegetables (zucchini, summer squash, sweet potatoes, etc.) into spaghetti-thin noodles for a variety of dishes.
Nemco Food Equipment
Tork Xpressnap Drive-Thru Napkin Dispenser, by SCA, dispenses set quantities of napkins with the touch of a button, while protecting the stack from germs and the elements. With its 750-napkin capacity, the dispenser requires less frequent refills, saving time and labor to ensure a more efficient drive-thru experience.
BY THE CUP, BY JOVE!
Coffee connoisseurs prefer their cups individually brewed. Which is why Service Ideas has rolled out its new 12-Sided French Press. The press’ 3-part filter virtually eliminates grounds and sediment in the final brew. With its attractive, angular body and double-wall insulating construction, the stainless press makes a statement at any table. The presses come in 3 sizes, starting at 0.35-liter capacity.
TO MORE FINELY FILTER
Frieling’s Dual Filtration French Press features a new dual filtration system that combines a pre-filter and a super-fine screen to block grounds and fine sediment from joining the pour. The French press’ 18/10 stainless construction makes it virtually unbreakable. The collection’s double wall design keeps coffee hot 4 times longer than glass counterparts, according to the manufacturer. The presses come in brushed, polished and black finishes, in sizes ranging from 4 oz. to 44 oz. All components are dishwasher safe.
SQUEEZABLY SOFT BOTTLES
TableCraft Widemouth Squeeze Bottles are both leak-proof and sturdy. The bottles’ soft polyethylene bodies provide faster food prep and make dispensing easy. The U.S.-made bottles are dishwasher safe and NSF listed. They come in 5 sizes, ranging from 8 oz. to 32 oz.
THE PURPLE “WEIGH”
Taylor Precision Products Aquatronic Digital Scale’s purple base makes it ideal for allergen-sensitive food prep. The scale handles weights up to 11 lb. (about 5 kg). It features an easy-to-read 5/8-in. LCD readout, add and weigh abilities, and a round stainless platform.
Taylor Precision Products