The National Restaurant Association Show announced Wednesday the recipients of the 2020 Kitchen Innovations (KI) Awards, honoring progressive equipment that increases efficiencies and productivity.
“We are proud to recognize these 18 awardees from 16 companies that have leveraged forwardthinking and cutting-edge innovation to develop products that will benefit foodservice operators and, ultimately, the industry as a whole,” said Tom Cindric, president of Winsight Exhibitions. “These new innovations—which focus on improved automation, efficiency, safety, sustainability, and waste solutions—represent today’s latest trends and showcase the future of the industry.”
The KI Awards program has earned a reputation for defining the gold standard of foodservice equipment innovations. The 18 selected award recipients address operator concerns including labor, inventory management, cleanliness, energy and water efficiency, food safety, sanitation, crossfunctionality, and space-saving measures.
The 2020 Kitchen Innovations Award recipients are:
Antunes, InfiniSteam Seven-Drawer Steamer: No more need for retherming and holding large batches. The InfiniSteam IS-7000 features boilerbased steam for quick retherming of varying menu items with high-velocity bursts of steam directed to seven drawers, each independently controlled for steam and temperature. Intelligent programming lets operators manage and serve fresh portions on-demand while enhancing quality and reducing labor and waste.
AyrKing, AyrKing Mixstir: The Mixstir keeps product consistently blended and ready to cook or serve while maintaining flavor profiles. Unlike conventional blenders, which tend to clog and break in certain applications, the Mixstir combines a robust, stainless-steel vessel, slower RPM 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., Cross Temp: Taking versatility to a new level, Cross-Temp switches from refrigerator to freezer, typically within an hour, and back, as storage needs dictate. Push-button temperature control is all it takes. With a range of -15° to 40°F, the unit can even store ice cream. A variable-speed compressor and adaptive defrost adjust for optimal performance and efficiency based on operating conditions.
Blodgett/Middleby, VLF: Say hello to the industry’s first full-size ventless convection oven with an embedded catalyst right 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, KAY Antimicrobial Fruit & Vegetable Treatment (AFVT) & Produce Handler: Food Safety Simplified: The patent pending handler system enables the use of AFVT without the need for a dedicated produce sink, dispensing equipment or personal protective equipment (PPE). Designed with small batch produce washing in mind, the easy-to-use system mixes a 4oz bottle of concentrate with 4 gallons of water to create the required concentration of use solution. It’s all premeasured, requires no physical contact with the concentrate, and no PPE. AFVT is FDA approved and EPA registered.
Ecolab, Rodent Ceiling Service: Rodents threaten food safety and an operator’s brand, from below AND above. Ecolab’s service combines patent-pending equipment with regular service to proactively eliminate rodent activity in ceilings before it takes hold. Early detection is the key to superior results, and the unique rodent ceiling device enables servicers to access ceiling voids for early detection and interdiction.
Electro Freeze, 9 Flavor Fuzionate: More flavors, less space: The Fuzionate soft-serve system uses patented mix-chamber geometries and blade design to blend right at the point of dispense, enabling up to nine high quality independent 3 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/Welbilt, High Performance Broiler: The next generation Garland Broiler, leveraging Synergy technology, substantially cuts energy consumption thus reducing CO2 emissions. It atomizes fat eliminating the need for a grease tray, and as a result, this new broiler reduces the frequency and effort required for cleaning. Other potential benefits include improved food quality and moisture retention.
Georgia Pacific, GP PRO Automated Sealing Machine: With explosive growth in food delivery, takeout and drive-thru, the GP PRO Automated Sealing Machine is a great enabler. A superior alternative to snap-on lids for cold drinks, GP PRO Automated Sealing Machine applies a film seal to paper and plastic cups ranging from 8 oz. to 44 oz. The seal ensures drinks are spill resistant and tamper-evident.
Hoshizaki, Sphere Ice Machine: Clear, solid sphere ice creates a top-shelf impression, and with less surface area than a cube, it melts more slowly, too, an advantage especially in premium liquors. Hoshizaki’s undercounter sphere ice machine, the first of its kind in North America, fits behind a bar at only 24.75” wide and 33.5” tall and produces 500 1.8”-ice spheres daily.
Kitchen Connect/Welbilt Corp., Kitchen Connect Virtual Oil Quality System: Conventional oil sensing relies on relatively expensive Oil Quality Sensor (OQS) hardware to interpret oil quality. It’s costly, and prone to failure and replacement. Welbilt’s new virtual OQS instead is essentially a software-based machine learning algorithm. The technology creates a predictive model related to number of cooks, number of quick filters, oil temperature during idle and other usage data.
Omni-Rinse, Auto Burn Technology for Ice Bin Melting: Tired of hauling buckets of warm water to melt down ice bins for cleaning and safety? Auto-Burn Technology, either integrated in the bin or modular in portable form, 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.
RATIONAL, VarioCookingCenter: Blending the flexibility of a tilt skillet with true cooking intelligence, the RATIONAL VarioCookingCenter can boil, fry, steam, sauté, braise and more in record time. 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, auto lift, and more.
Server Products, eServ MultiServ: Under the IoT-enabled eServ dispensing platform, MultiServ can dispense up to five, ambientpouched products from one discharge point via an intuitive touchscreen display selection. Perfect for front- or back-of-house, MultiServ can be programmed for precise portions or push-and-hold 4 applications and deliver real-time data via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. Single-use pumps and quick-connect hoses reduce labor and cleaning.
Star Manufacturing, Ventless Induction Down Draft: This new 208V rangetop combines induction technology with the patented Wells Ventless System exhaust, creating a new solution for operators wanting 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, Reversing Condenser Fan Motor: Dirty condenser coils can use twice as much energy as clean ones, according to at least one industry study. True’s patented system reverses the fan motor for 15-20 seconds to blow dirt off the coil every time the fan cycles on, saving energy and increasing component life. Better yet, it’s now standard on all True HC models.
Unox, Evereo: Say hello to EVEREO, the first ever “hot fridge” designed to preserve meals for days at serving temperatures. The unit’s patented technology allows foodservice operators to preserve cooked food at hot temperature and ideal humidity for up to 72 hours. Among benefits: no energy-intense cookchill-regenerate processes, reduced handling labor, and virtually instant service time.
Wood Stonem, WS 3-Bay Gas Rice Cooker (GRC): The 3-bay GRC uses standard 1/3 hotel pans to cook great rice every time with a single push of a button. With patent-pending boil sense technology and three programmable recipe cooking algorithms, the GRC uses an average of 40 percent less fuel than conventional rice cookers. Cooking in standard pans allows you to cook, hold, and serve in the same pan.
The KI Award recipients were selected by an independent panel of judges comprised of industry leaders and 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/COO, 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 (AFSVA))
- Steve Otto (Director, Capital Equipment Purchasing, Darden)
- Jim Thorpe (Senior Food Service Designer, Aramark)