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Innovation Nation

Abbe Lewis - May 2010

The recipients of this year's National Restaurant Association Kitchen Innovations™ Awards have reached new heights in equipment efficiency, giving industry leaders smart and sustainable products.

With the pursuit of sustainability surging across the restaurant and hotel industry, it was only natural that this year's Kitchen Innovations™ awardees would exemplify higher performance, along with eco-friendly breakthroughs in the workplace. These products will be exhibited this month, from May 22 to 25, at the annual National Restaurant Association Restaurant Hotel-Motel Show in Chicago.

Activeion Cleaning Solutions ionator EXP™.

Activeion has launched a chemical-free cleaning product that could effectively and safely replace many general-purpose chemical cleaners now used in restaurants and hotels. In a mere six seconds, the ionator EXP kills 99.9 percent of harmful common bacteria such as E. coli, salmonella, staph, and the 2009 H1N1 virus. This liquid spray product can be used on most surfaces, including glass, stainless steel, wood, carpeting, and marble. While protecting the public and the environment, cleaning professionals can reduce both time and costs in the bargain.

Alto-Shaam CombiTouch™.

Offering a wide range of remarkable new features, including intuitive pictorial and video graphic controls for organizing recipes, a multishelf timer that can hold seven to 10 timers, and six levels of a "Gold-n-Brown" browning feature, Alto-Shaam's Combi Oven is now easier to manage with the help of its touch screen control. The combination of its extraordinary appearance and operational simplicity reduces both time and labor.

Ecolab Scrub-N-Go™ Cordless Floor Scrubber.

Cleaning floors up to 63 percent faster than traditional mop-and-bucket, this cordless floor scrubber also allows floors to dry faster, reducing the incidence of slip and fall accidents in the workplace. Restaurants and businesses now have the opportunity to save an average of $150,000 per incident.

Henny Penny iControl™ for Evolution Elite.

For harried restaurant and hotel managers, the iControl system records frying statistics in its memory, allowing them to access such information at whatever hour's convenient to them. With iControl, restaurateurs can use this information to make key operationa decisions that help to save cooking oil and conserve energy, while continuing to serve great tasting food.

Hobart's Ventless AM Warewasher.

The first ventless "door-type" warewasher with energy recovery, the AM Select saves both water and energy. Its unique energy recovery condensing cycle allows the use of a cold-water supply. The hot-water line is used only during the initial fill. This warewasher can be used for pots, pans, and all other dishware, with a total of four washing cycles. Using the 1–minute cycle, this machine is able to wash 40 racks per hour.

Irinox Multi Fresh Blast Chiller.

Here, Irinox integrates blast freezing and rapid thawing with production efficiency and energy savings. Using the Dynamic Fresh System, the Multi Fresh Blast Chiller is able to maintain food freshness for longer periods.

Manitowoc's TRUFill™ Beverage Dispenser.

With a labor savings between 75 and 80 percent, the TRUFill beverage dispenser allows faster pours by dispensing through non-return valves in the bottoms of a range of disposable and reusable dedicated drinking vessels. This allows a single employee to handle four dispensing points, continuously dispensing high volumes during peak business periods averaging a 5 to 10 second per "drink pour" rate. With the TRUFill beverage dispenser, faster pours and more sales per worker spell appreciably higher efficiency and profitability.

The Merrychef eikon™ Accelerated Cooking Oven.

Available in multiple languages, the eikon series uses easyTouch technology, reducing training time and helping to eliminate risk of human error. The icon-driven touch screen enables instant menu management with archive capabilities, ethernet updates, operator training, and service maintenance instructions.

Middleby Southbend Ultimate Range.

One of the finest pieces of heavy-duty kitchen equipment, its name says it all. Using the company's Web site, Southbend customers have the option of customizing this range; sizes run from 24" to 60", two to 10 burners (one with a 40,000 BTU capacity, the most powerful in a restaurant series range). In all, this adds up to over 1,200 configurations. The Ultimate Range also offers a hybrid option conjoining a gas stovetop with an electric oven unit.

Vegawatt™ Cogeneration System.

Environmentally superior to Bio-Diesel, the Cogeneration System enables foodservice operations using vegetable oil in their kitchen fryers to generate their own electricity and hot water. Restaurants employing this product can save thousands of dollars per year in energy costs--between $7,000 and $10,000 in high energy cost equipment alone. Vegawatt's vegetable oil cleaning and filtering process is fully automated, with performance monitored on the Internet. No more grease traps, no more waste oil dumpsters. Brilliant!