Dena DiOrio - June 2008

Manufacturers are stepping up to the challenge of producing eco-friendly designs that meet the dual demands of high-volume production and the bottom line. Food Arts takes a look at some of this year's greener recipients of the 2008 National Restaurant Association Kitchen Innovations™ Awards. Dena DiOrio presents an edited line-up guaranteed to provoke deeply green cases of kitchen envy.

This year's KI Awards honor an unprecedented 25 innovations. Entrants were judged on such criteria as food safety, labor savings, sustainability, and energy efficiency by an eight member panel of industry experts representing a broad professional spectrum, from multiunit operators to foodservice consultants.

"A few years ago, there wasn't as much focus on energy expenditures in the kitchen as in the dining room. Operators had a hard time identifying where they could start to economize," says William V. Eaton, president of Cini-Little International and member of the KI Awards judging panel. "Independent operators began to see their chance to improve sales and utilities costs by being innovative, so they teamed up with manufacturers to design more efficient equipment."

That the proof is less in the pudding than in the fryer and the steamer is evidenced by a number of winners who have succeeded in pushing the boundaries of energy efficiency, water conservancy, and food safety standards. All 25 KI Award recipients were displayed at the interactive Kitchen Innovations Pavilion at this year's National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show, held in Chicago last month.

Avtec (Unified Brands) EcoArch Energy Efficient Ventilation System: The aerodynamic arch design of the ventilation system reduces the amount of exhausted conditioned air from the kitchen through its high velocity front mounted exhaust plenum. This ventilation system requires less energy to operate than its competitors, netting annual electrical and gas savings of up to 50 percent.

Cambro Manufacturing Camtherm® Hot/Cold Bulk Food Holding Cabinet: Using energy efficient polyurethane insulation, the Camtherm hot/cold food holding cabinet retains product at the desired hot or cold temperature on-location or in transit, without the use of a compressor, heating coil, or humidifier. Compared to conventional metal holding units of a similar size, the cabinet holds food safely for longer periods of time without an external energy source.

Ecolab Apex™ TSC Dishmachine: This low-temperature dishmachine, the first to use EPA-registered solid sanitizer pellets, features an attached controller that uses wireless technology to monitor water, energy, and utilities usage to optimize overall performance and efficiency. Ecolab associates provide operators with consultation services that include a regular preventative service call and electronic service reports, allowing operators to control costs, optimize the warewashing process, and reduce environmental impact.

Electrolux Professional North America S90 Full Surface Induction Range: This full surface induction range has four adjustable temperature zones with one powerful 5kW induction coil per zone. The 33" wide surface accommodates up to 16 pots simultaneously, increasing productivity and energy efficiency.

Frymaster (Enodis) Electric Protector™ Fryer: Reducing the amount of used oil introduced into the waste stream, the multiefficient Protector fryer's 30 lb. frypot uses 40 percent less oil than a regular frypot twice its size. Built-in features replenish, protect, and maximize oil life, saving on labor, energy, and supply costs.

Garland (Enodis) Restaurant Range: The Garland Res­tau­rant Range is designed for maximum performance efficiency with venturi and porting construction that streamlines the flow of gas at a powerful and consistent rate, thereby reducing hot spots and allowing for greater quality control.

Garland (Enodis) High Efficiency Broiler: This unique broiler's continuous spark ignition system alleviates the need for a standing pilot, reducing total gas consumption to 3,000 BTU/hour on a 36" wide model. When turned on, burner controls instantly retain the temperature setting predetermined at the time of installation.

Goslyn Grease Recovery Device: Using hydrostatic pressure and no moving parts, this environmentally friendly grease separator uses technology that is 99 percent effective in permanently removing fats, oils, and greases from waste effluent. Its patented design minimizes frequent maintenance, traps oils to be recycled, and eliminates costly grease trap cleaning.

Henny Penny Corporation SmartCombi™ with WaveClean™: The SmartCombi from Henny Penny Corporation features patented Advanced Steam Technology™ that steams without the use of a boiler. The WaveClean system automatically cleans the unit without supervision and powers off at the end of the cycle, saving on water and electrical resources.

Market Forge Industries Eco Tech Plus™ Steamer: The first full-size gas steamer to receive an Energy Star rating, the Eco Tech Plus introduces a built-in water management system that uses less than 14 gallons of water for a two-compartment steamer per hour--88 percent less than a conventional steam cooker of its size. A patented steam-on-demand feature efficiently steams product using minimal energy and, as demand decreases, automatically senses when to conserve energy and water.

OilFresh Corporation OilFresh® 1000 Series Oil Extending Catalytic Device: Using patented technology, this frying-oil conditioning solution maintains oil freshness and slows deterioration at the molecular level, providing a more consistent product, increasing oil longevity, and enhancing the oil's heat conductivity for quicker results. The device fits inside most open gas deep fryers and works in conjunction with many oil filtration systems.

Paloma Industries Pulse-Combustion Gas Fryer: The self-regulating two pulse-combustion heat transfer tubes enable quick heating of oil for faster cooking time while reducing pollutant emissions and energy costs. Operating at an extremely efficient rate while in full service and at a very low energy rate while "in idle," the Pulse-Combustion Gas Fryer's advanced technology saves on energy and operational costs.

Revolutionary Cooling Systems Stock Chiller™: Placed in the Stock Chiller, stainless-steel containers filled with hot soup or stock safely chill to 40°F from 190°F in just four minutes for 2-gallon sizes--or six minutes for the 5-gallon size--without altering food properties or flavor, saving on labor and energy costs. Airtight lids with handles prevent cross-contamination and make for easy storage and mobility.

Stellar Steam Polaris: This four-pan steamer, equipped with a 30-pound propane tank fixed to a mobile stand, is capable of generating steam at maximum output for 22 consecutive hours without electrical or plumbing sources. The anodized cast aluminum interior's heat retention allows for quick recovery and increased energy and operational efficiencies.