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NRA Show Names 2024 KI Award Recipients

The National Restaurant Association Show named 25 products from 24 companies as the recipients of its 2024 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. Here’s the complete list of the 2024 KI Award winners as released by show organizers.

Aniai’s Alpha Cloud – Patty Quality Assistant: A cloud-based artificial intelligence-based product, Alpha Cloud can discern the color of the hamburger patties and assess their quality through real-time vision sensors during the cooking process. Alpha Cloud notifies the cooking staff about patty quality.

Apex Order Pickup Solutions’ OrderHQ Exterior Smart Food Locker Solution: The OrderHQ Exterior Smart Food Locker features a patent-pending air circulation system that maintains ambient temperatures against a wide range of weather conditions. It incorporates multiple technologies to automate off-premises order management, security, sensing and handoff, while eliminating order theft and reducing crowding from delivery drivers and takeout customers.

Atosa USA’s Auto Seasoning & Auto Packaging Station: The Robotic Auto Seasoning and Auto Packaging Station replaces a standard fryer dump station and includes a dumping port for French fries, as well as optional additional storage for up to two other items. The kitchen staff or robotic arm dumps the fries, then robotics seasons the fries according to programmed salt weights, portions the fries by size of carton according to orders, and delivers the filled french fry cartons to the pickup area.

Blodgett Ovens ImVection IMV-4E: The ImVection oven offers four chambers, each providing your choice of convection or impingement, either by manual choice or using menu programming in cooking stages — all at the touch of a single touchscreen controller, via a patent-pending motorized “shuffling jet plate” system which aligns air holes for either convection or impingement cooking. Other notables: It’s ventless, provides one variable-speed fan per chamber; and a multiplexor that targets power when and where needed.

Broaster Company’s E-Series 24G: The E-Series 24G is an infrared, forced-air, high-volume 8-head pressure fryer whose features include a dual powered lift, built-in automatic oil filtration, automatic oil top-off, automatic pressure release, one-touch cook cycle, and programmable touch screen user interface with a 5-stage cooking capability that can swing from pressure to open frying in the same cook cycle. Connectivity options and rear oil discharge are available. 

Ecolab’s Nexa Concentrates 2.0 Hand Hygiene System: Ecolab’s Nexa Concentrates Hand Hygiene System provides cost savings, workflow benefits, and helps with sustainability. The refillable bottles allow operators to proactively refill hand soap and sanitizer dispensers, streamlining processes, and helping to ensure guests won’t encounter empty dispensers. The concentrated chemistry significantly reduces plastic waste and freight costs by up to 90%, per the maker.

Ecolab’s Rapid Multi Surface Disinfectant Cleaner: The Rapid Multi Surface Disinfectant Cleaner pairs short contact time with a time-efficient and cost-effective design by reducing the need for multiple products. This 4-in-1 disinfectant cleaner delivers streak-free performance on glass and soft surface disinfection. It kills SARS-CoV-2 in just 10 seconds and Norovirus, Influenza A and B virus, Common Cold virus and RSV in 30 seconds, per the maker. The active ingredient is biodegradable.

Evo America’s Evo EVent Open Canopy Hood: The VentCore Open Canopy Hood uses ozone and cyclonic separation to remove grease-laden vapors from the effluent. The unit can accommodate high-volume ventless frying and cooking proteins simultaneously, per the maker. The Evo VentCore unit is UL-approved for use with electric cooking equipment including fryers, griddles, ovens, broilers and more.

Franke Coffee Systems’ Mytico Due: Mytico Due launches a new category by blending the beauty and elegance of traditional Italian espresso-machine design with modern, intuitive coffee-quality-focused interfaces and controls for the barista, per the maker. Mytico Due provides consistent shot times via patented iQFlow technology, consistent barista-quality steamed milk via Autosteam Pro S3 steam wands, and flexibility for customizable water temperatures for both coffees and teas.

Henkelman’s AURA: The AURA vacuum-packaging system features the full-color H-Touch control which displays images of food categories. Based on which image is tapped, the machine chooses one of dozens of predefined cycles automatically, ensuring the correct functions in the machine are switched on or off.

Hobart’s CL Rack Conveyor Dishmachine: The Hobart CL conveyor dish machine features a unique capless wash arm design, reducing the time required for machine cleaning and eliminating lost end caps. The CL automates the deliming process and runs the delimer through the booster heater as well.

Kwick Cool’s TRI-TEMP Kold Pak Pizza Prep Tabletop: Features include an integrated retarder cabinet, a Carel Bluetooth controller/app for remote monitoring/control of three temperature zones and the patented Kold Pak insulating system for temperature stability. The unit also features a new sensor that measures temperatures within a small cylindrical cartridge inside the cabinet that is filled with a glycerin-based mixture that mimics how food temps change (as opposed to air temps) when compartment doors are opened/closed. The results include greatly reduced compressor cycling, service calls, etc., per the maker.

Lab2Fab’s PizzaBot: PizzaBot automates the pizza-making process from formed dough, application of sauce and toppings, to fully baked. The PizzaBot automated pizza-making system applies toppings in concentric circles allowing operators to program the unit the same way the culinary team has prescribed in its build sheets. PizzaBot consistently adds toppings such as sauce, cheese, pepperoni, sausage, and more both quickly and accurately. The end result is a better and more consistent product with less waste and less intensive tasks for kitchen staff, per the maker.

Newton CFV’s Discrete CFV: Conventional Ceramic Based Flow Control Valves in drink systems are prone to wear and going out of adjustment (drift), causing wrong ratios, poor taste and pour-outs, per the maker. Newton’s Discrete CFV (Constant Flow Valve) is a plug-and-play retrofit for conventional ceramic-based flow control valves that provides a fixed flow rate, factory set ratio that does not require calibration and does not drift. 

Everpure’s (Pentair Water Solutions) EZ-RO Reverse Osmosis System: The EZ-RO System solves the water-consumption issue with an advanced reverse osmosis membrane that achieves up to 50% water recovery compared to half that for conventional systems, per the maker. EZ-RO is modular, which allows operators to add on as their needs change. The small footprint can be mounted on the wall, placed freestanding, or installed under the counter.

PITCO FRIALATOR’s Torq Fryer: The unit features a pivoting filter arm that raises the filter out of the oil, making for quicker, easier filter changes and reduced downtime. Forced convection creates efficient heating and reduced recovery and cook times, and continuous filtration also reduces labor time, per the maker.

RATIONAL USA’s iCareSystem AutoDose: Available in automatic or fully automated options, RATIONAL’s iCareSystem AutoDose combi oven cleaning system uses solid cleaner and solid deliming cartridges that are recyclable and housed within the combi itself. The software determines exact dosages as conditions warrant.

T&S Brass and Bronze Works’ Y-Valve: The S-0107-Y spray-valve is a patented product that enhances cleaning efficiency while minimizing the amount of time and water needed for ware washing, per the maker. The integration of the spray face and bumper as a one-piece replaceable component eliminates the hold-down screw and other multiple replaceable parts found in other designs.

TechMagic Inc.’s I-robo: The I-Robo cooks numerous stir-fry recipes with chef-quality sophistication, streamlining every step, from seasoning distribution to pan cleaning. It also employs AI Culinary Science, providing personalized cooking experiences by auto-adjusting cooking parameters to individual tastes. All of it fits in a footprint of just 840W by 853D by 1286H mm (33.1 inches by 33.6 inches by 50.6 inches).

True Manufacturing Co. Inc.’s True Ice: The True Ice machine features True’s patented Sanitary Evaporator, designed to be fully sealed to prevent mold and other microbial contamination. The unit’s insulation enables increased ice production while slashing energy consumption — earning an ENERGY STAR rating of 3.95kWh/100lbs that rivals 1,000 lb. per day remote condensing systems, per the maker.

UNOX INC.’s CHEFTOP-X Digital.ID: The CHEFTOP-X combi comes with AI, a “state-of-the-art OS,” and a built-in microphone enabling voice control. An optical sensor allows it to recognize foods and start cooking programs automatically. AI interacts with the chef, asking for feedback on cooking results to optimize its performance and giving consumption tips to reduce users’ environmental footprint. 

Varimixer’s ERGO Series: This mixer is ergonomic, hygienic, and simple to maintain, per the maker. Features include a touchscreen display, customizable recipes and a waterproof IP rating. 

Waring Commercial Products XPress Multipurpose Cooktop: This unit simplifies crepe making and cooks crepes in 30 seconds, per the maker. The XPress Multipurpose Cooktop’s dual-heated, nonstick, 13.5-inch aluminum cooking surfaces evenly cook both sides of the crepe simultaneously, minimizing prep time and maximizing output. Also suitable for warming/cooking tortillas, quesadillas, omelets, pancakes, pizza dough and more.

Wild Goose Filling’s Cervizi: Cervizi, a beer dispensing system, reduces product waste, improves service efficiency and offers data to streamline business operations and increase revenue, per the maker. Cervizi applies Wild Goose’s technology used to package billions of canned beverages to offer draft beer.

Wunder-Bar’s M5 Bargun: This bargun is lighter weight with ergonomic contours, faster flow rates, and accurate no-drift controls. The M5 Bargun dispenses 2.5 ounces per second, which represents a 67% improvement compared to the typical 1.5 ounce pour, per the maker. The M5 manifold incorporates CFV technology for factory-set consistent ratios and eliminates the need for adjustment common with legacy ceramic flow controls.

The 2024 KI Award winners were selected by the following panel of independent judges: Dan Bendall, FoodStrategy; Lenny Condenzio, Ricca Design Studios; Dick Eisenbarth, Cini-Little International; Cha Nye Farley, Cracker Barrel; Foster Frable, Clevenger, Frable and Lavalee; Frank Inoa, Inspire Brands; Jim Krueger Jr., CMCE, NRAMF, Airforce Services Center; Alfred Spear, Walt Disney World Resort; and Jim Thorpe, Aramark.

Each of these products will be on display during the National Restaurant Association Show, which will take place May 18-21 in Chicago’s McCormick Place. In addition, 2024 marks the 20th anniversary of show organizers presenting the Kitchen Innovation Awards.