The National Restaurant Association Show named 16 products from 15 companies as the recipients of its 2021 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’ Touchless Sauce Dispenser: This is a precise way to serve condiments. Optical sensors and unique vacuum pullback technology provide exact, touch-free portions – eliminating handpumps and packets. Its modular design is suitable for use in a variety of operations, including front- and back-of-the-house applications. It is customizable with a variable number of nozzles, product viscosities, ambient/heated temperatures and volumes dispensed.
- Curtis’ GemX Narrow IntelliFresh Coffee Brewer with FreshTrac: At just 10.5-inches in width, the fully automated GemX Narrow brews and dispenses twice the amount of coffee in the same space as a traditional single brewer, per the maker, maximizing counter space. The unit achieves this capacity through 2 narrow, 1.5-gallon dispensers that compactly fit onto the brewer.
- Eastern Tabletop’s CleanLite: This unit uses antimicrobial LED light technology patented by Vyv to illuminate in white light tuned with blue wavelengths that continually protect against bacteria, fungi, yeast, mold and mildew. Configure the LED lights as standing fixtures over workstations and buffet systems, or in pendant and overhead fixtures for larger areas.
- Ecolab’s Cockroach Multi-Station: This discreet and durable device detects cockroach introductions early and provides ongoing defense. The station’s unique design and curvature mimics cockroach harborages to facilitate greater attraction and the glue board’s placement helps capture them at higher rates to achieve quicker elimination compared to traditional glue boards.
- Eloma/Ali Group’s Compact Pro: This fully modular combi oven allows users to choose control panels on the right, left or top and door hinges on the left or right. The unit features three cooking systems — convection/fresh steam, convection/steam injection or convection only. Choose between streamlined or advanced electronic HD touchscreen control, and two cleaning systems. A design module features a variety of options and accessories.
- Frymaster/Welbilt’s FilterQuick 120: Created to cook high volumes of fresh-breaded, heavy sediment, bone-in chicken products, this 120-lb. fryer employs a unique automatic filtration system. The sloped-bottom frypot features multiple oil-return ports sequentially controlled to funnel high pressure oil spray throughout specific parts of the frypot for effective washdown without clogging. Features include automatic direct internet connection, real-time data collection and remote diagnostics.
- Hobart Food Equipment Group’s AMTL Two Level Door Type Dish Machine with Hobart Smart Connect IOT App: The two-level dish machine features an upper chamber that acts as a typical door style dish machine, with a 17-inch door opening, delivering 80 racks per hour. The lower chamber functions as a single rack washer ideal for pots, pans, flatware or utensils. The two levels can operate concurrently, or the lower level can be turned off independently.
- Hoshizaki’s 2by2 ice cube machine, IM-50BAA-LM: The 2x2 undercounter model makes an ice cube that measures 1.9 inches by 1.9 inches by 2.2 inches with just a very small dimple on the long side. The ice is suitable for craft cocktails, etc.
- Manitowoc/Welbilt’s CrystalCraft Premier: This gourmet ice machine makes large cubes by using a reimagined evaporator design that results in a more compact unit. The machine includes onboard water filtration for clear cubes and a membrane touchpad.
- Minipack America’s MX-Infuser: The MX-Infuser/Vacuum Sealer uses sophisticated algorithms and single-touch icons to perform numerous processes from sous vide to marinating in two functions and three levels of intensity or infusing in four levels of intensity. The compact design comes in eight body colors with a soft closure transparent lid.
- Picnic’s Automated Pizza Assembly System: The automated, robotic Picnic Pizza assembly system reduces food waste and labor costs while increasing hygiene due to no-touch handling of ingredients. The system uses the operator’s recipe and precise amounts of sauce and toppings, sending the pizza directly to the oven. All the staff does is place prepared dough on the conveyor. Features include a touch-screen interface, optional POS integration and a customer portal for customized pizzas.
- RATIONAL USA’s iCombi Pro: Advanced combi oven features include cooking intelligence that lets the operator indicate the results wanted, such as browning and doneness, and even allows mid-process changes. Thermocouples detect cooking conditions, adjusting energy to match needs. Additional air reversing fans improve heat distribution and flow.
- Sunshine Innovations’ Luccy: The fully automated Luccy produces fresh, warm, ready-to-eat, premium hummus in seconds at any point-of-sale or serving point. Luccy produces high volumes with adjustable portions and endless recipes, without any human intervention. Luccy is sized to fit in any kitchen or display.
- T&S Brass and Bronze Works’ T&S WaterWatch: This water-monitoring system detects leaks and helps optimize conservation measures using a smartphone-sized device that straps onto a restaurant’s main water line. The device “listens” to the flow of water in the pipes and uses machine learning to identify the unique sound signatures of various fixtures to notify operators of leaks or catastrophic failures and support efficiency efforts.
- TurboChef Technologies’ Plexor: This ventless unit combines the features and functions of three independent ovens — a convection oven, an impingement oven, a speed oven, or any combination thereof — stacked in a single footprint. Other features include auto-loading and unloading. The units work off a single control panel and a single shared plug. Plexor’s modular design also enables cooking modules to be field swapped to accommodate future menu changes.
- UNOX’s MULTI.Day HOT VACUUM: This MULTI.Day Hot Vacuum system allows operators to vacuum-store hot food in MULTI.Day trays and transport it without the risk of liquid spills or contamination from outside. In less than 60 seconds, the tray is hot-vacuum sealed and ready for transport to satellite locations, preserving food at serving temperature for days, eliminating refrigeration and retherm processes.
The KI Award recipients were selected by an independent panel of judges comprised of food facility consultants, multiunit executives and design experts. The 2021 Kitchen Innovations judges are:
- Dan Bendall, principal, FoodStrategy
- David Chislett, FCSI, executive principal, Ricca Design Studios
- Richard Eisenbarth, FCSI, president, emeritus, 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 and engineering, Arby’s/Inspire Brands
- Jim Krueger, Jr., CMCE, NRAMF, chief, Air Force Food and Beverage Policy, Procedures, Business Development & Strategic Initiatives, Air Force Services Center (AFSVA)
- Steve Otto, director, capital equipment purchasing, Darden
- Jim Thorpe, senior foodservice designer, Aramark