These awards honor those products that increase efficiencies and productivity in the eyes of an independent panel of judges that include foodservice consultants, multiunit executives, and design experts. The selected award recipients address operator concerns including labor, inventory management, cleanliness, energy and water efficiency, food safety, sanitation, cross-functionality and space-saving measures.
“Forward-thinking and cutting-edge, this is the equipment that generates industry growth through a focus on factors such as automation, efficiency, safety improvements, sustainability, waste solutions, and more,” says Scott Redler, chief operating officer and co-founder of Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers and co-chair for the 2019 National Restaurant Association Show.
The following is a list of the KI winners along with a description provided by the NRA and edited by FE&S for style and clarity.
- Antunes Jet Steamer JS-1000: The Jet Steamer injects high-velocity steam into controlled bursts in a closed pitcher for complete penetration throughout the food within the pitcher, allowing for significantly faster cook times. The steam also mixes ingredients, saving operators time when preparing items such as soups, eggs, and chili.
- Apex Supply Chain Technologies AXCESS 2000.H Pick-Up Station: Co-developed with Little Caesars, the AXCESS 2000.H Pick-Up Station is a heated, self-serve order pickup station. As orders are placed inside the device, an app notifies customers. Customers skip the line and input their pickup code, which opens the customers’ secured compartment containing their order. Customers grab their order and leave the store in seconds.
- Baxter Manufacturing BV400G VersaOven: The VersaOven is a self-cleaning, programmable gas rack oven that offers convection and nonboiler steam to serve as a steamer, rotisserie, convection oven, and combi oven for fast cooking. A rotating rack provides even roasting or baking. A patent-pending grease separation system aids in the cleaning.
- Bear Robotics Penny: Penny is a foodservice robot with artificial intelligence that drives autonomously. Designed to maneuver in tight, crowded quarters, Penny shuttles food from kitchen to tables and brings dishes back for cleaning. The unit optimizes tray shape, suspension and other features for foodservice needs. Penny 2 will feature an upgraded design and tablet to communicate with customers and take orders.
- Bluewater USA Bluewater PRO 400 Water Purification System: A tankless design streamlines the Pro 400 reverse-osmosis system, which filters a broad array of contaminants for one or more appliances, from dishwashers and ice makers to steamers and coffee makers. The system produces up to 1,825 gallons daily, per the manufacturer. An optional storage tank accommodates very high demand use, without affecting the efficiency and performance of the purifier.
- Chicago Bar Shop SinkTech: This product uses sensors to determine water levels, temperature and cleanliness in three-compartment sinks. It automatically drains and fills sinks, which can save time, energy, water and money. It’s compact, installs without plumbing and doesn’t interfere with washing or scrubbers. And it’s connected to the cloud for data on usage and compliance.
- Chowbotics Sally the Robot: Sally the Robot serves customizable salads, yogurt bowls, grain bowls, and snacks using sophisticated robotics and algorithms to dispense accurate portions of hundreds of different ingredients. Sally delivers precise portions in a 3-foot by 3-foot footprint with a 120V socket.
- CM Systems LLC ComplianceMate: This long-range communication protocol works with digital checklists and wireless temperature sensors. Operating under the name LoRa, this software transmits farther using less battery power than Bluetooth in difficult transmission environs like stainless steel deep freezers, per the maker. Cloud-based data lets operators identify trends across multiple locations.
- Cornelius Marmon/Berkshire Hathway Company NitroPro Mini: Suitable for use with coffee and other beverages, NitroPro Mini takes a tankless approach — no nitrogen storage needed. Instead, it generates its own nitro onboard. The system features smaller sized air compressors, valves and flow controls, and an overall smaller footprint.
- Ecolab Advanced Health Department Intelligence (HDI): Ecolab’s newly reinvented HDI program capitalizes on next generation technologies and a raft of new analytics for a whole new, greatly magnified view of health department activities across the country. It’s expanded the database to over 1.5 million locations from 65,000+. Real-time alerts on numerous categories, data retrieval, and customer-facing dashboards all are cutting edge.
- Grindmaster PrecisionBrew Air-Heated Shuttle Brewers: Grindmaster’s Shuttle Brewers now feature an advanced touchscreen that offers detailed settings for time, temperature, pulsing and more to match roasters’ specs. A magnetically driven agitator prevents suspended solids from settling, and recirculating hot air heats the shuttles to help prevent hot spots and scorching.
- Henny Penny FlexFry: FlexFry offers a combination of open frying and pressure frying in the same battery footprint. The combo includes Henny Penny's F-5 electric low oil volume platform and 2, 3 or 4 vats of pressure frying. Touchscreen interface, three-minute express filtration and auto top-off on the F-5 and for pressure frying an easy open/close lid and pressure assist technology.
- Henny Penny Space$aver Team Combi: The Space$aver Team combi combines two stacked, independently operated combis in a single frame and shell, with a single power cord and all the serviceable components centralized below. The 22-inch-wide footprint is topped with an integrated ventless hood using four-stage filtration for grease and vapors requiring no catalytic converter.
- Hobart Corporation FT1000e Low Energy Series: This flight-type warewasher features redesigned wash, airflow and heat-retention elements, enabling use of lower electrical-draw components such as pumps, motors, heaters, etc. Result: 12 percent to more than 20 percent energy reduction depending on configuration, and smaller circuit breakers, all while maintaining wash quality.
- Hoshizaki MODwater: This unit dispenses four kinds of water — chilled, hot, alkaline and sparkling — in a small footprint. Patented technology chills and carbonates water on demand without a carbonator tank. No tank, no pressurizing pump needed, thus saving space and maintenance.
- Jamix Kitchen Management System: This KMS software not only offers recipe and menu management and costing, Jamix also ties in inventory management and procurement. This cloud-based system is accessible with any browser, any operating system and any mobile device, per the maker.
- Lancer TwinPour Beverage Dispenser: In a 44-inch counterspace, TwinPour offers 2 dispense points and 266 flavors, allowing the unit to simultaneously serve 2 customers. Each side accepts any style of ice and offers two choices. TwinPour dispenses all ice types and can be configured to dispense two types at the same time. Additional chilled water lines serve as a cooling system for ancillary pieces of equipment.
- Manitowoc Ice/Welbilt Corp. Indigo NXT: Refinements to the Indigo NXT line enable a combination of efficient rotary compressors and environmentally friendly R410a refrigerant. Indigo NXT produces roughly 50 lbs. more ice daily and is an average of 11 percent more efficient than models using R404a, per the manufacturer.
- Merco, a Welbilt Brand Visual Holding Cabinet with Tray Tracking Technology: With Merco’s Tray Tracking Technology operators insert a tray and the timer starts automatically and counts down. In the event the operator needs to move the tray, the timer electronically stays with it, tracks to the new location and continues counting.
- RATIONAL USA UltraVent Plus: This recirculating ventless hood is retrofittable, incorporates four filters and requires no catalytic converter for grilling and roasting. It comes in a configuration that can be retrofitted even to RATIONAL Combi-Duo stacked electric countertop combis.
- Tortilla Masters Equipment TM-105 Ventura Flex PL Tabletop Corn Tortilla Machine: This electric tabletop corn tortilla machine measures 2 feet by 2 feet, with a small high-torque motor. It can produce up to 840 corn tortillas per hour. Molds and settings produce different sizes and thicknesses.
- Unox Data Driven Cooking: The Data Driven Cooking software monitors oven usage, analyzing and recording cooking times, menu items, energy and water use, etc. Artificial intelligence uses that data to recommend operational patterns, new recipes and more. Further, sensors in the oven calculate volume and mass and adjust cook times for different size batches.
- Vollrath Company Modular Induction Dry Well Drop-In: This line of induction dry well drop-ins features two independent induction zones per well, and uses capsules in each zone with fold-in, foldout legs to accommodate both 2.5 inch and 4 inch deep full-size or half-size pans.
- VT Burner Technology in conjunction with Venancio USA VT Burner: This Retrofittable VT Burner is cast steel, with a patented layered design that requires no ceramics to generate infrared energy. It’s IR-fast, inexpensive, durable and cuts gas consumption compared to standard burners.
- Vulcan, a division of ITW Food Equipment Group Versatile Chef Station: The Versatile Chef Station is a compact multifunction cooking station that serves as a griddle, saucepan, braising pan, steamer, pasta cooker, rethermalizer and fryer all in one — and with its patented multilayered cooking surface it’s faster, more accurate, more even and easier to clean than a braising pan, per the maker.
Each recipient and each product honoree will appear in the Kitchen Innovations Showroom at the 2019 National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show, which will take place May 18-21 in Chicago at McCormick Place.
The 2019 Kitchen Innovations judges are: Dan Bendall, principal, FoodStrategy Inc.; David Chislett, FCSI, executive principal, Ricca Design Studios; Jeff Cook, chief engineer, Restaurant Solutions Group, McDonald’s Corporation; Richard Eisenbarth, FCSI, president/COO, Cini-Little International; Foster F. Frable, Jr., FCSI Associate AIA, president, Clevenger Frable LaVallee; Randy Homer, program manager, food & beverage operations asset management, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts; Jim Krueger, Jr., CMCE, NRAMF, chief, Air Force Food & beverage policy, procedures, business development & strategic initiatives Air Force Services Activity (AFSVA) food & beverage branch; Steve Otto, director, capital equipment purchasing, Darden and Jim Thorpe, senior foodservice designer, Aramark