The National Restaurant Association Show named 18 products from 16 companies as the recipients of its 2020 Kitchen Innovations Awards. Determined by a panel of independent judges, these awards honor foodservice equipment that increases efficiencies and productivity in commercial kitchens.
The following is a list of the KI winners along with a description provided by the NRA Show and edited by FE&S for style and clarity.
- Antunes' InfiniSteam Seven-Drawer Steamer: The InfiniSteam IS-7000 features boiler-based steam for retherming various menu items. The unit directs high-velocity bursts of steam to seven drawers, each independently controlled for steam and temperature. Intelligent programming lets operators manage and serve portions on demand.
- AyrKing Mixstir: The Mixstir keeps product consistently blended and ready to cook or serve while maintaining flavor profiles. The Mixstir combines a stainless-steel vessel, a slower RPM compared to other blenders and a unique blade design to handle blending thick batters for frying operations and mixing seasoned oils for products like Nashville hot chicken.
- Beverage-Air/Ali Group N.A.’s Cross Temp: Cross-Temp switches from refrigerator to freezer, typically within an hour, and back, as storage needs dictate. The unit features a push-button temperature control, a variable-speed compressor and adaptive defrost. Cross Temp operates within a range of -15 degrees F to 40 degrees F.
- Blodgett’s VLF (Middleby): This full-size ventless convection oven has a catalyst embedded inside the cooking chamber. The catalyst incinerates grease-laden vapors before they leave the oven, and a top-mount hood removes excess moisture and provides a filter as a second grease-vapor barrier. The configuration is approved for bone-in, skin-on, raw proteins and allows full-size stackability.
- Ecolab’s KAY Antimicrobial Fruit & Vegetable Treatment and Produce Handler: The patent-pending handler system enables the use of AFVT without the need for a dedicated produce sink, dispensing equipment or personal protective equipment. Designed with small batch produce washing in mind, the system mixes a 4-ounce bottle of concentrate with 4 gallons of water to create the required concentration of use solution. It’s all premeasured and requires no physical contact with the concentrate.
- Ecolab’s Rodent Ceiling Service: Ecolab’s service combines patent-pending equipment with regular service to proactively eliminate rodent activity in ceilings before it takes hold. The rodent ceiling device enables servicers to access ceiling voids for early detection and interdiction.
- Electro Freeze’s 9 Flavor Fuzionate: The Fuzionate soft-serve system’s mix-chamber geometries and blade design blend right at the point of dispense, enabling up to nine independent flavors from a single base mix. An integrated variable speed motor, coupled with electronic controls, allows custom tailoring to a variety of frozen bases and syrups.
- Garland’s High-Performance Broiler (Welbilt): The next generation Garland Broiler leverages the company’s Synergy technology to reduce energy consumption, thus lowering CO2 emissions. It atomizes fat, eliminating the need for a grease tray. Other potential benefits include improved food quality and moisture retention.
- Georgia Pacific’s GP PRO Automated Sealing Machine: The GP PRO Automated Sealing Machine serves as an alternative to snap-on lids for cold drinks. The GP PRO Automated Sealing Machine applies a film seal to paper and plastic cups ranging from 8 ounces to 44 oounces. The seal ensures drinks are spill resistant and tamper-evident.
- Hoshizaki’s Sphere Ice Machine: The Sphere Ice Machine creates clear, solid sphere ice with less surface area than a cube and it melts more slowly, too. Hoshizaki’s undercounter sphere ice machine fits behind a bar at only 24.75 inches wide and 33.5 inches tall and produces 500 1.8-inch ice spheres daily.
- Kitchen Connect Virtual Oil Quality System (Welbilt): This virtual oil quality sensor is a software-based machine learning algorithm. The technology creates a predictive model related to the number of cooks, number of quick filters, oil temperature during idle and other usage data.
- Omni-Rinse’s Auto Burn Technology for Ice Bin Melting: Auto-Burn Technology delivers a hot water stream to an ice bin that propels a whirlpool that churns and breaks up the ice much more rapidly than manual efforts. It’s available either integrated in the bin or modular in portable form.
- RATIONAL’s VarioCookingCenter: VarioCookingCenter can boil, fry, steam, saute, braise and more. The unit recognizes load size and automatically adjusts the cooking process to produce consistent results, all without an operator having to manually set time or temperature. Other features include heat zones and auto lift.
- Server Products eServ MultiServ: Under the IoT-enabled eServ dispensing platform, MultiServ can dispense up to five, ambient pouched products from one discharge point via a touch-screen display selection. Suitable for front- or back-of-the-house applications, operators can program MultiServ for precise portions or push-and-hold applications. The unit can deliver real-time data via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. Single-use pumps and quick-connect hoses may reduce labor and cleaning.
- Star Manufacturing’s Ventless Induction Down Draft: This 208V rangetop combines induction technology with the maker’s Wells Ventless System exhaust, creating a solution for operators wanting to prepare food in full view of customers without the constraints of typical, externally vented, air systems. Key specs include four 1800W hobs, a center-mounted downdraft ventless exhaust that leaves a clear view of cooking, and a self-contained four-stage filtering system.
- True Manufacturing’s Reversing Condenser Fan Motor: True’s system reverses the fan motor for 15 to 20 seconds, blowing dirt off the coil every time the fan cycles on. This can save energy and increase component life. This feature is standard on all True HC models.
- Unox Evereo: Evereo is a “hot fridge” that can preserve meals for days at serving temperatures, per the maker. The unit allows foodservice operators to preserve cooked food at hot temperature and ideal humidity for up to 72 hours. Among the benefits: no energy-intense cook-chill-regenerate processes, reduced handling labor and virtually instant service time, per the manufacturer.
- Wood Stone’s WS 3-Bay Gas Rice Cooker: The 3-Bay Gas Rice Cooker uses standard 1/3 hotel pans to cook rice with the push of a button. The unit’s boil sense technology and three programmable recipe-cooking algorithms help the unit use an average of 40 percent less fuel than conventional rice cookers, per the maker. Cooking in standard pans allows operators to cook, hold and serve in the same pan.
Each recipient and each product honoree will appear in the Kitchen Innovations Showroom at the 2020 National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show, which will take place May 16-19 in Chicago at McCormick Place.
The KI Award recipients were selected by an independent panel of judges comprised of food facility consultants, multi-unit executives and design experts. The 2020 Kitchen Innovations judges are:
- Dan Bendall, principal, FoodStrategy Inc.
- David Chislett, FCSI, executive principal, Ricca Design Studios
- Richard Eisenbarth, FCSI, president/chief operating officer, Cini-Little International
- Foster F. Frable Jr., FCSI, Associate AIA, founding partner, Clevenger Frable LaVallee
- Randy Homer (Program Manager – Food & Beverage Experience Development, Disneyland Resort
- Frank Inoa, senior director, design & engineering, Arby’s/Inspire Brands
- Jim Krueger Jr., CMCE, NRAMF, chief, Air Force Food & Beverage Policy, Procedures, Business Development & Strategic Initiatives, Air Force Services Activity
- Steve Otto, director, capital equipment purchasing, Darden
- Jim Thorpe, senior food service designer, Aramark