The National Restaurant Association today announced the recipients of the 2012 Kitchen Innovations (KI) Award, which recognizes cutting-edge kitchen equipment in the foodservice market.

An independent, expert panel of judges comprised of internationally recognized food facilities consultants, multi-unit executives, and design experts selected KI Award recipients for significant innovations that improve quality, productivity, service, and sustainability.

Award recipients will be showcased in the interactive Kitchen Innovations Pavilion in its new central location on the exhibit floor (booth 2440 ) at the 2012 National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show, set for its new dates May 5-8 at Chicago’s McCormick Place.

“The independent panel of judges selected these products based on the forward-thinking approach to commercial kitchen equipment demonstrated by their innovative creators,” says Jack Crawford, convention chair for NRA Show 2012 and president and CEO of Ground Round Independent Owners Cooperative, LLC.

“These truly groundbreaking products will have a substantial impact on the efficiency and success of restaurant kitchens, as well as the profitability of the restaurant itself. As the largest restaurant and hospitality trade show in the United States, the NRA Show offers the perfect forum to explore trends and find new products to enhance restaurant operations.”

As the global restaurant and hospitality industry’s premier trade show, the NRA Show brings together more restaurant and hospitality buyers and equipment manufacturers than any other industry event.

The KI products will enable foodservice operations to run faster and more efficiently by increasing productivity, quality, safety, cost-efficiency, and environmental sustainability. The result: foodservice operators will deliver better customer service and the highest quality meals to their customers.

The 2012 Kitchen Innovation Award recipients are:

  • Alto-Shaam, Inc.- Combitherm Automatic Grease Collection System: This new system is electronically activated during cooking to separate grease from water. Grease is pumped to sealed containers and water goes down the drain. Collected grease volume, handling, and disposal costs are greatly reduced.
  • Bettcher Industries, Inc. – Optimax Compact – Automatic Batter-Breading Machine: The first automatic machine for application of batter and breading to a wide variety of food items to be baked or fried. The compact Optimax batters and breads fresh food items individually, and is ideal for locally sourced meats, seafood, and produce.
  • CookTek Induction Systems, LLC – SinAqua Waterless Food Holding System: SinAqua induction warming replaces steam or dry holding with consistent temperature control to extend food quality and holding time. Combining induction technology with gentle infrared radiant heat and LED lighting dramatically reduces energy costs, and eliminates the need for complicated plumbing systems.
  • Ecolab Inc. – ActiveView HDI – Health Department Intelligence: For multi-unit operators, ActiveView HDI gathers data directly from the local health department inspections, standardizes against U.S. Food Code, applies proprietary translation algorithms, and delivers on-line customized reports and alerts.
  • Ecolab Inc. – STEALTH Fly Station: This wall hanging panel is unique, as it works effectively during daylight hours to attract and eliminate flies. It’s best positioned in strategic locations on exterior walls, to prevent flies gaining entrance into restaurant kitchens.
  • Franke Foodservice Systems, Inc. – Ice Machine Sanitizing Device: This compact unit attaches to most ice machines and prevents bacteria build-up, reducing costly maintenance. Its unique electrolytic cell generates ozone in the water line, safely sanitizing the ice-making path and holding bin without chemicals.
  • Frontline International – Fresh Cooking Oil Box System: Frontline racks orient fresh oil boxes/jugs upside-down, connected to a pump station. Fill fryers either automatically or by dispensing wand. Average oil yields equals more than 10 percent, and spill risks are avoided.
  • Frymaster – Large Vat Fryers (1814 G/E ): Frymaster’s new large-vat, 1814 gas and electric fryers’ innovative fry pot design maintains high production capability while using 15 percent less oil, reducing energy consumption from 25 to 47 percent, conserving space under the hood.
  • Garland Commercial Ranges – Garland Induction Griddle: A patented six-point real time temperature sensing and unique power management system, coupled with a high-performance three-metal layered plate, enables this unique induction griddle to achieve almost-instantaneous recovery and even heat across the griddle.
  • Kaivac, Inc. – OmniFlex Dispense-and-Vac system: OmniFlex dispenses fresh cleaning solution to the kitchen floor and then thoroughly removes all liquid, soils, and contaminants with its wet/dry vacuum and brush-head. OmniFlex leaves floor dry for immediate availability.
  • Kitchens to Go, built by Carlin Manufacturing – Bolt On Kitchens: The KTG Bolt On is a new approach to commercial kitchens. Unlike temporary solutions, the KTG Bolt On is a customized pre-constructed, code compliant turnkey kitchen that's permanently affixed to a building, enabling reallocation of interior space.
  • Lang Mfg. – Lang GHP Series Featuring "On Demand Burners": Lang is introducing the first gas fired countertop range with on-demand burners. These energy efficient burners feature a lever actuated gas valve that will go from idle to full when the pot or pan rests on the grate surface.
  • Merrychef USA – Planar Plume Technology: This new patented Planar Plume Technology creates even impingement sheets of air in rapid cook ovens which delivers quicker heat transfer, less microwave destruction, lower blower speeds, and increased energy efficiency.
  • Power Soak Systems, Inc. – Silent Alert: This alert system illuminates a floor or ceiling surface in the kitchen with highly visible but unobtrusive color-coded light patterns. The system is language neutral and completely silent yet it effectively garners the attention of the staff to deliver a variety of important messages.
  • RATIONAL USA – SelfCookingCenter whitefficiency, HiDensityControl: The patented HiDensityControl is the innovation that drives the efficiency of the new SelfCookingCenter whitefficiency. It senses where energy is needed and controls fan direction and speed to achieve high and even energy density.
  • Sealed Air – Vision Enabled Training: Small web cameras and algorithm-based software enable customers to observe exceptions to approved practices like hand hygiene. Customers can customize their applications via smart phone or a secure website real time for training and monitoring.
  • Springboard Biodiesel, LLC – The BioPro EX: The BioPro EX is an automated appliance that converts used cooking oil into cleaner-burning, premium grade biodiesel fuel for a fraction of the cost of the petroleum-based fuel it replaces.
  • Vitamix – Automatic Mix'n Machine: The new Automatic Mix'n Machine is a hands-free, fully programmable mixer that incorporates candies, syrups, cookies, and hard-to-mix ingredients into soft serve ice cream or yogurt without damaging the inclusions.
  • Vulcan – VTEC – Infrared Charbroiler: This high production cooking platform is produced by an innovative conversion burner. More than 50 percent of the infrared energy is generated in longer wavelengths optimal for cooking, using less gas and greatly reducing flare-ups.
  • Wells Manufacturing – HDW-2 Water Saving Heated Disher Well: As an alternative to constantly running dipper wells, the HDW-2 holds food-serving utensils at bacteria and allergen-free temperatures while conserving up to 18 gallons per hour, as well as potentially providing significant energy-savings.
  • ZipZester, LLC – Spin Zester: This innovative Spin Zester and its sophisticated combination of patent-pending blade designs and tension mechanisms allows the chef to safely produce the highest quality zest in a matter of seconds.


The annual National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show is the largest single gathering of restaurant, foodservice, and lodging professionals. NRA Show 2012 will be held at its new dates, May 5-8, at McCormick Place in Chicago.

The event attracts more than 58,000 attendees and visitors from all 50 states and more than 100 countries, and showcases the latest products, services, innovative ideas, up-to-the-minute information about trends and issues, and other growth opportunities than any other industry event.

For more information, visit the Show Web site at, and find us on Twitter@NRAShow, Facebook, YouTube and our blog Floored!.

Back of House, News