The National Restaurant Association Show kicked off Saturday in Chicago, with the annual Innovation Kitchen pavilion highlighting cutting-edge equipment and technologies fit for all foodservice segments.
Technology receives its place in the pavilion based on its uniqueness and the significance of its benefit to operators. This year, many of the awardees had a focus on green. Here are some of our favorites.
Advansys CleR Energy Recovery (Hobart). This Energy Star-qualified conveyor-type warewasher captures heat from exhaust air to preheat inlet water for energy savings of up to $11,000 a year. The equipment was released in February as a “natural progression” for the company, according to Hobart’s Joel Hipp, and is used across all segments. Though these types of dishwashers are becoming more common, the difference for the Advansys system is that it monitors the temperature of the water, assuring optimum effectiveness. Hipp said the return-on-investment is less than two years.
Produce Soak with Advanced Washing Technology (Power Soak Systems). This system adds another use for Power Soak Systems' free-flowing water tank developed for washing pots and pans. The gentle-wash jets remove soil from hard-to-reach areas on the food, and its inserts and dividers create consistent motion for thorough sanitation. One-third of Power Soak Systems’ Produce Soak customers are in the quick-service segment, according to Scott Heying, who added the system cut down time spent washing produce for one customer from a week to half a day.
Indigo Series Ice Machine (Manitowoc). Bo Erickson of Manitowoc said one of the benefits of the company’s new Indigo Series Ice Machine was “peace of mind.” The technology features intelligent diagnostics and 24/7 monitoring. Operators can program ice production and monitor all functions, including ice clarity, machine maintenance, energy/water usage and the unique LuminIce growth inhibitor. The LuminIce feature, which eliminates bacteria and algae, is especially beneficial for bakeries and pizzerias, where there tend to be more airborne particles such as yeast in the air. It is also Energy Star-rated and includes remote operating capabilities. Estimated ROI is two to five years.
PriMelt Oil Melter (Henny Penny). Used by McDonald’s and other chains, this integrated, on-board oil melter converts semi-solid oil to completely clear liquid and maintains it for normal replenishment without hot splash through the Henny Penny automatic top off system.
Mini 2in1 Combi Oven (Cleveland Range). The Mini Combi is an oven steamer with two independent cooking chambers in a single body. Benefits include limited space requirements, simultaneous food preparation using different cooking methods and, because of the unique properties of steam, faster and higher quality preparation, according to Cleveland Range’s Pete Schellenbach. The technology, he said, manages the location of the cold zone, so operators can perfectly cook a grilled cheese sandwich in the oven, despite the difference in the foods' densities.
EcoVent Exhaust Air Cleaner (Franke Foodservice Systems). EcoVent says this is the first cooking exhaust cleaner that introduces the grease- and odor-reducing effects of ultraviolet light into the airstream above the hood without placing any device directly into the duct. The result is a dramatic reduction in the need for filters and daily cleaning.
Universal Ventless Hoods (Wells Manufacturing). These self-contained hoods have flexibility to mix and match various pieces of electric cooking equipment and feature an innovative air path with four-stage filtration, which yields 34-percent less air flow and 30-percent lower noise. They’re available in lengths up to 8 feet and are pre-plumbed with the tank built in. This allows them to be mounted from a wall or hung from a ceiling, ideal for operations that are leased or are located in a protected historic space, according to Wells’ Mark Fogarty.
Proximity Heat Reclaim Hood (Franke Foodservice Systems). This reclaim hood positions a flue bypass to capture the highest clean combustion heat from a gas appliance with an integrated heat exchanger to supply hot water and reduce energy consumption. According to Halton, a 60-percent reduction in the amount of natural gas required for water heating is possible, resulting in a potential annual average savings of $1,220 and a reduction of 10,200 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions.
Alicia Kelso has been a professional journalist for 15 years. Her work with QSRweb.com and PizzaMarketplace.com has been featured in publications around the world, including Good Morning America, Voice of Russia radio, Consumerist.com and Franchise Asia magazine.