Foodservice Equipment: Kitchen Pioneers

An ergonomic mixer, intuitive oven and modular shelving are among this year’s Kitchen Innovations winners

Just as much as flavors and ingredients, kitchen equipment drives trends and evolution in the foodservice industry. A fast, precise and consistent oven is just as—if not arguably more—important than a high-quality, delicious chicken patty. A sanitary, low-labor ice machine is just as vital as an enticing beverage program with hundreds of flavor combinations.

Celebrating the technological strides of the industry’s engineers, this year’s Kitchen Innovations award winners—which were on display at the National Restaurant Association’s NRA Show May 16-19 in Chicago—promise enhanced energy efficiency, food safety, faster cooking times and even smart technology that adapts to the operator.

What follows are this year’s Kitchen Innovations honorees. Which new kitchen gadgets could find a home in your c-store or commissary?

Champion Industries Inc., Foodwaste Reduction System. The technology in this system features counter-rotating, slow-speed and low-noise cutters to macerate food waste in a grind chamber before moving to a dewatering centrifuge with a rapidly rotating screw and screen via a sloped overhead gravity feed. It uses repurposed gray water as its primary water supply, reducing water consumption by 20% to 30% daily.

Dagda Technologies Inc., FryerGate. This safety cover protects employees from serious deep-fryer burns via a spring-loaded barrier against dropped objects or slipped extremities—all without slowing down the cooking process. The NSF-certified cover can be attached to any existing electric or gas fryer.

Duke Manufacturing Co., FlexTech Advanced Food Holding Platform. The FlexTech extends fried-product hold times, maintains product quality and freshness longer, reduces food waste and increases product availability by 10% to 15% while maintaining flavor integrity and avoiding flavor transfer. It uses a patented Atomized Humidity Generation System and internal vent duct panels that allow for active venting at each pan level.

Ecolab, Syncra Total Hand Hygiene System. This automated, touch-free water-and-soap delivery system follows a strict yet adjustable three-step process (water and soap, timed lather and scrub, and rinse) to ensure increased employee compliance and standardized hand-washing procedures. The system is easy to install in existing hand-washing sinks using existing plumbing, and it uses 50% less water than traditional hand-washing sinks.

Edlund Co. LLC, Titan Max-Cut. The Titan Max-Cut saves operators space and prep time by incorporating cutting, coring, wedging and dicing into a single manual machine. Users can swap out the quick-change pusher and cartridge and move from function to function. The durable stainless-steel unit is dishwasher-safe.

EnviroPure Systems Inc., EnviroPure Ozone Recirculation System. Using gray water extracted from food waste to facilitate the grinding and digestion of that waste, the EnviroPure Ozone Recirculation System eliminates the need for fresh water to be added to the aerobic organic digester, saving up to 400 gallons of water per day.

Evo Inc., EVent Ductless Downdraft Ventilation Cooking Station. Featuring an internally ducted, self-contained downdraft recirculating ventilation system, this electric cooktop removes enough airborne grease vapor, smoke and cooking odors from the cooking surface to allow operators to place the cooktop in any location without the need for an externally vented air system.

Franke, Air Purification System (APS300). This self-contained, affordable purification system mounts inside walk-in coolers, scrubbing the existing air of microbes, ethylene, hydrocarbons and other contaminants to reduce odors and extend the shelf life of prepared foods and produce. It uses the power of ozone and UV light, but entirely within the enclosure to prevent potential exposure hazards.

Frymaster, a Division of Manitowoc Foodservice, FilterQuick with Oil Quality Sensor. Boasting integrated oil-quality sensors, a patented technology that automatically monitors the health of the oil by measuring its total polar materials, these gas and electric fryers reduce the cost of frying and improve food quality by taking the guesswork out of oil replacement.

Hestan Commercial Corp., Tri-Ferrous French Top with Maximum Center Temperature & Gradient. Available in 18-, 24- and 36-inch widths, this French Top features a thick-gauge, fully welded stainless-steel radiant cone around its 35,000-Btu-per-hour gas burner to trap and focus radiant and convective heat within a controlled space below the center plate. The resulting range of 320 to more than 1,000 degrees is the highest temperature delta of any French Top.

Hobart, FT1000 Flight-Type Dish Machine. The FT1000 is the first and only ventless flight-type dish machine in the marketplace. It boasts the industry’s lowest total cost of ownership via technological innovations such as Automatic Soil Removal (ASR), Auto Clean and Auto Delime that reduce water, energy labor and chemical expenditures.

HydroFLOW USA/Genuine Energy Solutions, Hydro-FLOW Water Conditioners. These chemical-free water conditioners not only dissolve and remove lime scale in appliances and piping systems, but they also prevent new lime-scale accumulation, kill bacteria and algae in water systems and boost filtration efficiency. The two systems feature induced-signal and continuously conditioning Hydropath Technology.

Ice Link Inc., Ice Link. Using vacuum technology and optic sensors, the Ice Link automatically transports cubed and nugget ice at 30 feet per second from a central ice-production area to a variety of remote locations within the same building, vertically up to four stories and horizontally up to 350 feet.

Manitowoc Foodservice, Merrychef eikon e4s with Panini Grill. This semi-automated, non-stick panini press attachment flattens and/or generates grill marks on a range of products, including bread, proteins and vegetables, all while taking advantage of Merrychef’s rapid-cook technology. The Merrychef produces high-quality food at speeds up to 15 times faster than conventional methods. The attachment is easily removable from inside the oven for cleaning.

The Montague Co., R290 Glycol Ice and Heat Sauté Station. This 48-inch sauté station features a revolutionary Turbo Coil designed R-290 glycol assist refrigeration system to convey proper cooling power more efficiently than standard air-only refrigeration systems. It houses four 30,000-Btu gas burners, a glycol-raised rail pan chiller and a two-drawer refrigerated base.

Ovention, Inc., Ovention M360 Oven. Using a breakthrough rapid-cook technology without microwaves called Precision Impingement, this compact oven is UL-certified for ventless operation and allows operators to prepare 1,000 menu items, each with different cook times and heat profiles.

Schaerer Ltd., Schaerer Coffee Art C HC. The Coffee Art system offers speedy bean-to-cup hot and iced coffee at the push of a button on its 7-inch programmable touch screen. The result is similar in strength to drip filter but ground straight from the bean for a full-bodied flavor profile with excellent freshness, aroma and taste. Iced drinks are made using a proprietary chilling technology that prevents ice melt or dilution.

ThermalRite, Sanisteel Anti-Bacterial Slip-Resistant Flooring. Featuring a pre-coated finish that kills and prevents 99.9% of all bacteria, mold, algae and fungi, this NSF-certified flooring boasts a slip resistance that exceeds all other major industry options in terms of prefabricated walk-in flooring.

True Food Service Equipment Inc., Hydrocarbon (R290) Natural Refrigerant Reach-In Refrigerators/Freezers. Combining state-of-the-art compressors and components with all-natural, energy-efficient and environmentally friendly HydroCarbon (R290) Natural Refrigerant, these reach-in refrigerators and freezers reduce an operator’s energy consumption substantially while maintaining food safety and quality.

Varimixer, Kodiak Planetary Mixer. The first planetary mixer to be designed with customer input, the 30-quart Kodiak is an ergonomically correct machine that features a wider, shallower bowl for better sight lines, an intuitive control panel and an easy-to-clean three-in-one splash guard/safety guard/ingredient chute, making it the most hygienic mixer available.