Highlighted Highlights

Meggin Juraska / April 2007

Sparing us endless hours of headachy squinting, once again the National Restaurant Association has applied a deluge of Windex to the equipment crystal ball. Meggin Juraska sizes up the breakthroughs. Hold on to your toques!

For the third year running at the National Restaurant Association (NRA) Restaurant Hotel-Motel Show (see Events Calendar), a panel of cross-industry experts representing multiunit restaurant and B & I operations; theme resorts; and kitchen, restaurant, and hospitality design has deemed 19 entrants worthy of an NRA 2007 "Kitchen Innovations Award.

Mounted like an illuminatingly edited science museum installation, all of these will be on display at the NRA show Kitchen Innovations Pavilion. A number of the advanced designs and technologies reflect a signs-of-the-times demand for energy efficiency, water conservation, and faster cooking times without sacrificing quality. Here follow some of the highlights:

Action Comax Environmental BioX: BioX uses a patent-pending biological process to decompose and dissolve up to 1,500 pounds of food waste per day. The liquid is disposed into a drain or used for irrigation. The stainless-steel, no-odor unit is suitable for kitchen locations.

Alto-Shaam Combitherm Smoker: This boilerless countertop model with oven/steamer capability has integrated patented smoker technology, enabling the operator to smoke hot or cold and reverts to standard cooking without flavor transfer or residual smoke.

Alto-Shaam 75G Gas Fryer: Seventy-one percent efficiency is achieved through this fryer's enclosed forced-air modulating burner and revolutionary heat exchanger. Eco-Smart features reduce cost of operation, extend oil life, reduce absorption, and provide rapid recovery.

Blodgett Oven (Middleby) XCEL.5E Hydrovection: This first self-cleaning electric convection oven features easily removed bi-directional blower wheel and baffle, welded stainless-steel liner with large radius corners, protected gaskets, and a steam-assist feature, resulting in potential 95 percent reduction in cleaning time.

Campus Products Silvershine Cutlery Drying Machine: The Silvershine CDM dries, polishes, and sanitizes up to 12,000 pieces per hour, agitating through 170°F polishing granulate and Ultra Violet C germicidal light. Result: safe, spotless cutlery.

Cleveland Range (Enodis) Convotherm 606 Mini-Combi-Oven Steamer: Its compact footprint fits almost anywhere and packs in cooking power and capabilities like larger units. The Advanced Closed System provides reduced energy, water savings, and an industry-exclusive browning and crisping technology.

The Delfield Company (Enodis) Versa Drawer: The Versa Drawer combines four separate units with individually controlled functions--refrigerate, freeze, chill, and thaw--in one footprint and refrigeration system, adding versatility to kitchen operations.

Electrolux Professional North America Tilting Pressure Braising Pan: The pressure braising pan shortens cooking times up to 50 percent by cooking under the pressure of saturated steam to retain flavor, nutrients, and yields. Motorized tilting makes it easy to handle large quantities of food.

Hobart 3000 Series Slicer: This slicer provides improved cleaning accessibility, a seamless base, and hose down capabilities. With a smaller footprint, it has a larger "yield improving" knife that is removable with increased safety and ease. The "Select-a-Stroke" feature remembers required stroke length.

Lincoln Foodservice Products (Enodis) FastBake™: This patent-pending advanced impingement technology accelerates the rate of heat transfer, resulting in significantly improved baking quality, energy savings, and faster baking times by 10 to 30 percent.

Pitco (Middleby) Solstice Rethermalizer: This water bath rethermalizer (more efficient than steam or hot air) delivers 54 percent efficiency from its Solstice burner/baffle design, extracting more heat and achieving radiant mode more quickly for faster recovery and cooking.

Scotsman Ice Systems (Enodis) Prodigy™ Cube Ice Machine: Utilizing patented mineral-sensing technology, the ice machine's WaterSense™ adaptive purge control automatically adjusts the quantity of water needed to flush mineral residue, limiting scale buildup and keeping it cleaner longer.

Unified Brands Randell FX Series: This refrigeration/ freezer system features one to four modular drawers, each with individual temperature controls within "lids" that magnetically seal and refrigerate food tubs. The system is energy conserving and stacked in one footprint.

Vulcan-Hart Floor Gas Steamer: Vulcan's PowerSteam cooks faster with superheated 235°F steam. Its high output generator/energy-efficient burner delivers continuous 235°F flow, allowing in and out orders without shutdown or reset.

To learn more about competition entry and judging in the coming year, contact the NRA convention office at 312-853-2525.