THE EQUIPMENT AND SUPPLIES EXCELLENCE AWARDS 2011 WILL BE LAUNCHED SUMMER 2010
With customers becoming ever more demanding, food service businesses need their operations to run as smoothly and efficiently as possible, both front and back of house. Although often at the least-glamorous end of any operation, the equipment upon which they rely is crucial to their success, from the refrigeration storing fresh produce and grills, ranges and ovens for cooking it, to the plates on which it is served and the dishwasher that gets rid of its every trace.
Just as chefs push the boundaries of culinary artistry, so manufacturers of professional equipment and other supplies push technological boundaries and the Caterer and Hotelkeeper Equipment & Supplies Excellence Awards were set up to recognise their innovation and enterprise.
After assessing all the entries for evidence of fresh thinking, significant advances in design, and innovative application of technology, our panel of judges selected 12 category winners and three commendations. We congratulate them all.
1. Food & Bar Display
Winner: K-Pot - BGL Rieber
The K-Pot uses precise Ceran heating for a chafing dish that will regenerate as well as cook, hot hold and griddle. Cold-holding variants are also available, which use frozen pellets to ensure a stable cool temperature.
Unlike conventional chafers, which use gel heaters that heat the food in two spots, K-Pot ensures food will not burn or boil dry by evenly heating the whole of the pan. In cooking mode, food can also be finished at the point of service.
Users simply select the regen or holding option. The program operates for a set time and then signals the food is up to temperature.
Programs are tailored to the regeneration or heating of chilled foods. Optional variable power levels make it possible to tailor individual cooking requirements.
K-Pot includes either 1/1, 2/3 GN or 3 x 1/3 GN Rieber Thermoplate pans and a polished stainless steel buffet lid.
Our judges thought the unit looked good and could see it used in a staff restaurant or a satellite site. From a safety point-of-view, they liked the fact that no gels were required.
Winner: Evolution Elite - Henny Penny
Henny Penny has long promoted oil management programmes as a way to control cost and extend the useful life of cooking oil, and the Evolution Elite integrates recommended frying best practices into an oil management system that is simple to operate.
With a frypot capacity of just 30lb, the fryer uses 40% less oil than a standard 50lb frypot by eliminating space formerly reserved for the frying cold zone.
Its intelligent filtration system, SmartFiller Express, extends oil life by tracking frying statistics and lets operators know when it's time for their next filter change. A vat-specific light indicates when a vat is ready to be filtered, and a four-minute filtration can be performed in one vat while cooking continues in the remaining vats.
Our judges liked the fact that the design enabled better oil management and reduced oil waste, which they felt was a big environmental plus. They also praised the unit's short recovery time and automatic top-up, useful features for high production outlets.
3. Grills, Griddles Barbecues and Toasters
Winner: HSG Panini Grill - Electrolux Professional
The HSG Panini Grill is up to six times faster than a standard sandwich grill without compromising on quality. It enables caterers to offer a sandwich in less than a minute, delivering crispness, flavour and visual appeal with traditional grill marks created by the non-stick top plate.
Features include three heating modes: contact heating plates, for the typical stripes of a toasted sandwich; infrared radiation, to deliver crispness; and microwaves, to ensure the right temperature at the core of the sandwich. The grill also features a self-adjusting upper plate; automatic holding and opening once the cooking phase is complete; programmable electronic control with four automatic programs/cooking phases for easy operation at the touch of a button and an energy-saving mode, to aid cost savings and for a more eco-friendly appliance.
To give caterers flexibility and choice with their sandwich offering, the four available cycles mean that a wide variety of breads can be quickly filled, grilled and served.
Our judges described the grill as "absolutely brilliant" for its ability to cut down on queues by delivering paninis, popular at deli counters in B&I sites and in stadia operations, so quickly.
4. Ranges and Ovens
Winner: PS640 Wow! oven - Middleby Marshall
The energy-saving features of the Middleby Marshall 640 Wow! conveyor oven, available through Jestic Foodservice Equipment, have already won it two major awards in the USA this year and make it the latest in conveyor oven technology, combining substantial savings in gas (up to 50%), greatly reduced emissions, plus improvements in the operational output and speed.
The key to the energy saving is the patented magic-eye technology at the entrance to the oven which senses when there is product placed on the belt ready to cook. Like all great ideas, it is very simple. When the electronic eye senses product the belt will start, and when there is no product on the belt, the magic eye puts the oven into a sleep mode. The machine will automatically enter sleep mode if product is not placed on the incoming belt within 30 seconds of a cooked item exiting.
Our judges were impressed with the potential saving on energy bills, faster bake times and more comfortable working environment.
Winner: UC Series - Winterhalter
The new UC Series of undercounter dish and glasswashers has been built to meet the top four features caterers requested on a research website set up by Winterhalter - ease of operation, quality results, easy maintenance and energy reductions.
Features include a simple touchscreen with clear program symbols and a single start button; a new design of elliptical wash arms to improve performance; adjustable power and pressure to suit the condition of the load; self-cleaning and decalcification programs; a touchscreen-based error management system; plus a range of technologies to reduce energy, water and chemical usage, such as the eco mode on each program that can cut running costs by 11%.
The UC Series comes in four sizes and four basic configurations (dishes, glasses, cutlery or utensils) along with the multi-purpose Bistro model that washes glasses and dishes at the same time. Glasswashers can handle up to 48 racks per hour (with racks ranging from 400mm x 400mm to 500m x 540mm). The capacity changes to 40 racks for dishwashers and Bistro machines and 11 racks for cutlery and utensil washers.
Our judges liked the warewashers' flexibility to suit the specific needs of an operation, its energy-saving properties and the graphics available for the front which make it aesthetically pleasing for situations such as an open bar.
Commended: CP-L-A - Hobart UK
The CP-L-A dishwasher washes up to 240 racks per hour while delivering a reduction of up to 30% in energy consumption through a range of features.
While conventional machines wash at between 55°C and 60°C, Hobart's patented Hot-Temp system washes at 67°C, which enhances the performance of the detergent and speeds up the cleaning process. Energy consumption is reduced through using higher temperature over a shorter period of time.
The Contact-Plus wash system features 11 wash arms for maximum contact time and the wash-arm configuration and wide-angle wash jets produce a 65% wider fan pattern. The 80Degree system re-circulates the pre-final rinse water at a higher temperature, increasing the surface temperature of the wash items, resulting in a reduction of 50% in final rinse water.
The Radius pre-rinse nozzle, pumped rinse and fresh water rinse system uses just 160 litres of water per hour and the precision spray efficiently removes detergent solution from the wash ware, reducing the concentration of detergent carried over into the pumped rinse (pre-rinse) tank, meaning the pumped rinse remains cleaner for longer, reducing the need for dilution by the final rinse.
The Low-Chem system directs just 50% of the rinse water into the wash tank, reducing detergent consumption by up to 75% compared with conventional systems.
All of these developments combined lead to an effective throughput of up to 20%.
Our judges appreciated the different approach of increasing the wash temperature for a shorter wash cycle to produce better wash performance and energy and detergent savings.
Winner: SV25 Digital water bath - Instanta
Instanta's range of digital water baths were designed specifically for sous-vide cooking and underwent six months of field trials in two restaurants.
Available in 25-litre and 38-litre sizes, the units feature 290mm deep, energy-efficient, insulated tanks with a built-in circulating pump for even temperature distribution - which can be set between room temperature and 99°C - plus a long-life 3kW element.
Food pouches can be suspended from the removable stainless steel rack that comes with each unit, or the baths can be segmented using optional stainless steel dividers.
The baths come with a hinged safety glass lid, are easy to drain for cleaning and have a low water audible warning signal, plus boil-dry protection to safeguard the element. Five digital timers display hours, minutes and seconds, while the water temperature is also prominently displayed.
A feature that particularly appealed to our judges was the individual controllability of the different compartments, and they felt that at a cost of £1,000 for the 25-litre model and £1,100 for the 38-litre model, the units were affordable for most restaurants.
7. Beverage Making and Dispense
Winner: Lincat - FilterFlow
Lincat's range of four FilterFlow automatic water boilers have cost-effective built-in water filters which are easily changed by the operator. Filtering improves the taste and quality of the drink and cuts energy consumption by lowering the water's calcium carbonate content (which creates limescale).
Lincat says a coating of 1.6mm of limescale on the heating element can cut energy efficiency by 12%. The boilers' well-insulated filter saves electricity by reducing heat loss, while the heating element uses the minimum amount of electricity needed via an accurate electronic temperature management system that keeps stand-by consumption down to 100W. This allows the machines to be left on at all times.
Recognising that water quality is an issue, our judges remarked that being able to change the filters as easily as with a domestic unit was a "simple but very effective idea".
8. Crockery, Cutlery and Glassware
Winner: Profile - Churchill China
During the creation of Profile, Churchill China listened to comments from customers and distributors which indicated that caterers were looking for a lighter plate that was easy to handle but just as durable in action, maximised back of house storage space and made re-ordering more flexible by packing product in smaller pack sizes.
Manufactured in Stoke-on-Trent, the range has a thinned and improved profile making it 15-20% lighter than the company's existing classic plates and bowls while retaining its durability and carrying Churchill's five-year edge chip warranty. The thinned profile of the products also reduces stack height, saves space at the back of house and is easy to handle and transport. There are nine lightweight plates and bowls featuring a rolled edge and a defined rim that can be mixed and matched with all other products in Churchill's Super Vitrified range.
Following the company's recent IS014001 certification, Profile features an Ecoglaze finish which saves energy in manufacturing while prolonging the life of each item. It improves resistance to stains and metal marks and makes each item very robust. More than 90% of the ceramic materials are sourced in the UK - for example, the clay comes from Cornwall and Devon and the glaze comes from companies in Stoke-on-Trent.
Besides being impressed by Profile's sustainable credentials, our judges noted that the noticeably lighter dishes would be of huge benefit in a banqueting operation when clearing tables of 12.
Winner: Bio Hot Cup Lid - Vegware
(also commended in the Green Award category)
An estimated 31 billion cups of coffee are drunk in Britain every year, many as take-away, and now there is an eco alternative to the ubiquitous plastic lid. The result of nearly three years of R&D, Vegware's Compostable Hot Cup Lid reduces CO2 emissions by 77% in manufacturing and reduces landfill burden by composting in eight to12 weeks.
It is made from a proprietary PLA-based material which meets the ASTM6400 compostability standard and can be reprocessed into useful resources such as nutrient-rich compost, topsoil, and methane for energy production in eight to 12 weeks.
There are two sizes which fit Vegware's and many generic 8oz and 16oz cups. The lid is embossed with the Vegware logo but can brand it with an operator's own logo at a cost of 1p.
The "premium look" of the lids and the nominal cost difference in having personalised logos on them impressed our judges as did its biodegradable properties which they felt was a strong USP.
10. Hygiene and Waste Management, and Green award
Winner: GohBio GB 550 - Mechline Developments
Food waste is made up of approximately 70% water and is naturally wet and heavy.
The GohBio GB 550 can take up to 550kg of food waste and reduce it to grey water in 24 hours, saving caterers money by reducing food waste disposal costs.
It uses a special formulation of highly refined, naturally occurring micro-organisms to convert food waste into a non-toxic liquid that is safe for drains and sewage systems, helping operations to responsibly and economically dispose of organic waste with little impact on the environment.
GohBio is designed to deal with high volumes of waste and is especially suitable where the caterer's location makes the removal of food waste to landfill or composting expensive and unsustainable, such as in a city centre, high-rise buildings, on board ships, or other eco-sensitive areas.
Specifically designed for the rapid and safe decomposition of food waste including meat, poultry, vegetables, rice, bread, pasta, fruit, coffee and dairy products (any bones from meat or heavily fibrous materials will not decompose rapidly and will require conventional disposal), the unit is available in four models ranging in capacity from180kg to 680kg per 24 hours.
Our judges were so impressed with the ecological benefits of the unit that they gave it both the Hygiene and Waste Management, and Green awards, concluding that "it shifts a fair bit of waste in 24 hours" and was quite simply "amazing".
11. Best Installation case study
Winner: The Fish House, Chilgrove - Space Catering Equipment
The brief for the former pub site in Chilgrove, West Sussex, was to create a kitchen to prepare 1,000 plus covers a week - and which looked stunning as it was visible to diners through aquaria in the dining room wall.
The original kitchen was too small and, housed in an 18th-century listed building, needed great care to refurbish and extend sensitively. Space extended the kitchen by a third, completely changed the flow and configuration and specified equipment offering optimum performance, control and versatility. 3D visuals were prepared to bring the scheme to life and Space's Green Footprint scheme identified all energy-saving opportunities on the kitchen plan.
Refrigeration was key to the design and incorporated three external coldrooms and 10 Adande Varicool refrigeration units with stainless steel worktops offering greater storage capacity and temperature flexibility in a smaller footprint.
A separate pastry area has localised refrigeration and its own pass for better flows and access during service.
A 4m long gas-fired Bonnet Optimum 700 island unit was installed through the centre of the narrow kitchen, made possible by the 700mm depth, and even had a refrigeration unit built in to keep chilled produce at hand. Preparation and counter space is interspersed with the cooking elements to use every centimetre of working space.
Front of house, Space created a glass-fronted chilled crustacean display embedded in a marble-topped bar with an LED illuminated ice well underneath.
The kitchen certainly found favour with head chef Alan Gleeson, who says, "Our new kitchen is truly a joy. The whole operation is so streamlined and practical."
Our judges were full of praise for the "well thought out design" which they felt made good use of the available space and created a great workflow.
Commended: Snowdon Mountain Railway Summit Visitor Centre - C&C Catering Equipment
The sustainable £8m Snowdon Visitor Centre was built 3,560ft above sea level just below the summit of Mount Snowdon and was an unusual and demanding project for C&C Catering Equipment. It required the design of the kitchen and food service counters around awkward sloping pillars. Personnel and equipment could only be transported to the summit by train and there is no mains gas or electricity so power is supplied by two generators. Tough 304 grade stainless steel was specified to cope with the damp conditions and project manager Keith Hartharn, who won an Individual Merit Award at the 2009 CEDA Grand Prix Awards for his work, had to confirm that each supplier would honour its warranty on equipment installed in a challenging environment where temperatures range from 30°C to -20°C in winter and the building is often covered by frost, ice and snow.
Our judges felt a commendation should be awarded for the extreme logistical problems overcome to install the facility.