April 22, 2024

National Restaurant Association Show® announces 2023 Kitchen Innovations® Awardees

KI Awards celebrate the back-of-house innovations that improve operations and generate growth through advances in automation, sustainability, efficiency, space-saving and more

The National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show®, the foodservice industry’s premier event, today announced the 20 recipients of the 2023 Kitchen Innovations (KI) Awards. Each year, the KI Awards program recognizes the year’s most forward-thinking and cutting-edge kitchen equipment and product innovations that meaningfully improve foodservice operations. The National Restaurant Association Show brings together more restaurant and hospitality buyers and equipment manufacturers than any other industry event and will be held May 20-23, 2023, at McCormick Place in Chicago.

“We are thrilled to recognize this year’s recipients of the 2023 Kitchen Innovations Award,” said Tom Cindric, President of Winsight Exhibitions. “Each year we see innovative products that revolutionize kitchen and foodservice operations, and this year is no different. These equipment advancements address many of the challenges impacting operations today—including workforce shortages and labor costs—and create a new generation of kitchens that improve operations and safety through increased efficiency, versatility and productivity to help boost the bottom line.”

The KI Awards program has earned a reputation for defining the gold standard of foodservice equipment innovations. This year’s recipients reflect the trends and topics most important to foodservice operators today, while generating industry growth through a focus on automation, efficiency, safety improvements, sustainability, and more. The KI Award recipients were selected by an independent panel of judges comprised of industry leaders and internationally recognized food facility consultants, multi-unit executives and design experts.

The 2023 Kitchen Innovations Award recipients are:

Aniai aGrill (Alpha Grill)

Aniai

Aniai provides robotic kitchen solutions for restaurants. The cooking robot ‘Alpha Grill’ follows your burger recipe and cleans itself so that you can focus on high-level priorities. Dual cooking surface on the top and bottom grills cook 8 patties in less than one minute. The clamshell Alpha Grill raises burger patties into top platens, times cooking, picks up the cooked patties (no flipping required), delivers to a front-mount warming tray. Al and optical and other sensors check the quality and help you make your burger even better. Alpha Grill is designed to make your day in the kitchen hassle-free.

Intelligent French Fry Robotic Solution

Atosa USA, Inc.

Robotics are here big time, and Atosa’s new system introduces the same type of six-axis robotic arm that probably built your car. The collaborative “co-bot” solution works in auto or manual mode, with or without staffers, and includes a French fry (or other) refrigerated or frozen hopper/dispenser, robotic arm, fryer battery with filtration, ventless hood with ansul fire suppression, and dump station. This solution can be integrated with existing fry batteries. Atosa’s next generation solution will focus on multi product dispensing along with auto packing.

Costa Smart Café Marlow 1.2

The Coca-Cola Company

Costa Smart Café is a revolutionary piece of autonomous equipment that provides barista-quality coffee at the touch of a button. Essentially an unmanned coffee shop in a box, it is designed to craft and dispense over 100 hot and iced drinks before any human assistance is needed.

ConvoSense

Convotherm

ConvoSense is the world’s first AI-powered, fully automated combi oven cooking and baking system. ConvoSense sees what the operator is loading and instantly launches the perfect cooking program to produce it. Adept at mixed loads, food can be loaded all at once or one tray at a time. ConvoSense recognizes the food as it is loaded and launches the correct cooking program for each tray while simultaneously managing the entire cooking cavity for consistent, exceptional results.

LXnR

Hobart – ITW Food Equipment Group

Offering an industry exclusive two-level undercounter rack design, preliminarily debuted on the LXeR model, the LXnR is the only two-level undercounter that’s NSF certified. This innovation increases throughput while reducing water, energy, and labor. Rated at 48 racks/hour, the fastest undercounter throughput in the industry, the design consists of a molded rack guide and removable wire rack equipped to fit bowls, plates, and utensils.  

Taylor Hydra Rinse with Configurable Pro Controller

Hydra Rinse

Taylor’s latest Hydra Rinse now features a configurable pro-controller that allows users to clean different soft-serve/shake machine models with one system. As before, without disassembling the machine, just attach the Hydra Rinse system and auto clean–in half the typical cycle time, regardless of staff skill level, for a cleaner machine and better tasting mix.

ImmersaFlex

Immersion Systems Inc.

Designed for flexible rapid food thawing, washing of fruits & vegetables, seafood de-glazing and general washing, ImmersaFlex uses a process of “immersion” to create water convection for thawing and de-glazing and powerful wash action for washing processes. No difficult to clean and inspect pumps or manifolds. The load capacity is 150 pounds. The system is completely process controlled and the system clean-out and sanitation are fully automatic.

Hybrid Kold Pak Dual Temp Saute Station

Kwick Cool

The challenge for sauté stations is holding open-pan temps at/below 40⁰F without freezing the bottom of the pan even while sautéing inches away. FSTC test data show Kwick Cool’s solution solves the issue by a big margin. The key: Chilled, sealed glycerin pouches insulate and chill the rails against heat migration. One thermostat controls each pan rail offering choice of two temperatures depending on the product being held.

FryBot

Lab2Fab

With fully automated technology, including a seven-axis robotic arm, FryBot can fry two separate frozen foods, up to 30 lbs. of each. Collaborative technology allows humans and robots to operate in the same workspace using safety sensors to ensure the safety of all employees. Depending on food item and programmed cook time, FryBot can fry 50+ baskets per hour with a two-vat (4 basket) system.

Merrychef conneX® with Automated Panini Press

Merrychef®

The new Merrychef conneX® range with panini press is the first high speed cooking platform able to deliver a full 16”+ square cooking cavity allowing both batch and on-demand cooking in an 18” UL certified ventless countertop platform. The tri-pleX technology allows for the fastest, quietest and most energy efficient speed oven in its class. The patented press accessory, unattached to the oven, slides in and out with one handed ease. A newly engineered auto-lift of the press enables smooth loading/unloading.

SafetySuite

PathSpot Technologies, Inc.

Of the many back-of-house tools and software, PathSpot SafetySuite is the first comprehensive health and safety operating system. SafetySuite offers complete flexibility, configurability, integrated remote temperature monitoring, food labeling, expiry management, compliance forms for key task validation and audit forms to digitize safety inspection notes. Here’s the best part: It’s all networked with the company’s HandScanner, a fluorescence spectroscopy unit that detects microbial contamination on hands, logs data, etc.

PreciTaste

PreciTaste

With 2,000+ food AI systems, PreciTaste is a first-to-market AI kitchen management system to optimize operations through real-time guidance in foodservice entities nationwide. The solution incorporates data augmentation from a proprietary database and machine learning to manage kitchen operations, resulting in increased productivity and profit. Highly scalable, PreciTaste provides crew assistance based on demand predictions with the option to add vision sensing for key kitchen tasks including bulk prep, inventory planning, and work-station management.

SmartVide XL and 30-gallon Precision Rethermalizer Tank

SAMMIC

Sous vide is widely known for precise time/temp-controlled cooking, but it has always been restricted to a small amount of servings. Operators can now serve hundreds of portions with the same precision as a typical countertop sous vide tank thanks to Sammic’s SmartVide XL combined with the groundbreaking technology and connectivity of the new 30-gallon Precision Rethermalizer Tank.

Elevate Autonomous Retail Merchandiser

Structural Concepts

Structural Concepts is the only refrigerated OEM to design and manufacture a complete smart solution for autonomous shopping. Offsetting labor challenges, an appealing merchandising format with increased capacity, a cashier-less transactional system, and the ability to streamline inventory management, this single solution provides a quick ROI turning into increased profitability.

UltraRinse

T&S Brass and Bronze Works

Finally, a spray nozzle specifically for rinsing produce and thawing proteins. UltraRinse is a patented, retrofittable swing nozzle attachment equipped with unique angled fan-spray tips to create a broad, soft water spray across maximum surface area. Two versions: a 10″ arm to fit under 12″ nozzles and a 16″ arm for 18″ nozzles. The 10″ has three spray tips totaling 1.5 gpm flow rate; the 16″ version has five tips totaling 1.5 gpm.

PLEXOR M2

TurboChef Technologies, LLC

TurboChef’s PLEXOR M2 is the first oven to feature separate impingement and rapid-cook cavities – or two rapid-cook cavities. Like its A3 predecessor, the M2 is modular and can be pre-specified or field swappable to any desired configuration. With just a 26.8” footprint and two full-sized cooking cavities, the M2 offers the ultimate ventless space efficiency, product range and throughput.

SPEED-X

UNOX INC.

In the ongoing trend to optimize versatility and food quality in ever-shrinking footprints, now there’s a combi oven that can do what speed ovens do, and a speed oven with auto-wash capability all in the same unit. As a combi, SPEED-X™ is 20% faster than a traditional combi oven. As a speed oven combining steam, air and microwaves, it can cook food in seconds, including from raw.

SerVue – Touchless Refrigerated Slide-In

Vollrath Company

Picture a traditional salad/food bar. Then replace the pans, breath guard and utensils with a row of enclosed, high-capacity canisters in a refrigerated chamber keeping the product covered and food-safe. Now picture sensors automating dispensing and portion control. THAT is the new SerVue™ touchless refrigerated slide-in food bar, the next generation of serving line fabricator components.

The Ellipse Blending System

Waring Commercial Products           

The future of blending has arrived! Experience the power of top-down blending that propels you beyond the limits of physics. The brand-new Waring® Ellipse™ Blending Solution has been designed to change the way you think of blending with shorter cycles, greater output, and more consistent results.

Robojo – Powered by MyAppCafe’

Zink

Robojo is more than an untended robotic coffee kiosk – It’s theater. This self-contained coffee business is built around two WMF-5000S+ Super Automatic Espresso machines, a Scotsman nugget ice machine, two latte art printers, a refrigerator, and a Kawasaki robotic arm. The equipment is connected to the monitoring system via ethernet cables. Devices are plug and play, easily replaced. Customers pay via credit card terminal or a propriety app.

All KI Award recipients receive additional industry-wide exposure throughout the Show channels and their media partners. This prestigious endorsement opens doors to new business opportunities and recognition from operators, media and dealers. This year, KI Awardees will again be featured in a dedicated showroom in the South Hall at McCormick Place and highlighted in special programming at the Show.

As the global restaurant and hospitality industry’s premier trade show, the National Restaurant Association Show is the place to explore everything that’s happening in the hospitality industry, from the latest food and beverage trends to emerging technology.

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