The National Restaurant Association Show 2013

The National Restaurant Association’s show in Chicago is May’s must-visit trade show. Amelia Levin rounds up what’s on offer

This month, tens of thousands of people from the foodservice and wider hospitality industry will descend on Chicago to attend or exhibit at the third annual National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show. This year’s event is being staged between 18-21 May at Chicago’s McCormick Place.

Last year, the show drew 61,503 attendees and exhibitors, and organisers are expecting similar numbers this year. Howard Schultz, chairman, president and CEO of Starbucks, will deliver the keynote address. And to close the show,  celebrity chef, author and TV personality Anthony Bourdain is this year’s host for the second annual Restaurants Rock industry celebration and official show after-party.

Best known for his Emmy Award-winning series No Reservations and new programmes The Taste (ABC) and Parts Unknown (CNN), Bourdain will also judge the action-packed IWSB Star of the Bar mixology competition finals, held live on Sunday, 19 May at The Castle in Chicago. The next day, he’ll be signing his latest books on the show floor.

Attendees can download the show app for directories, maps, news plus live-streaming updates from the show’s Floored! blog. Top chefs will demonstrate their culinary insights and prowess in the World Culinary Showcase, and some will be signing books.

Wade Koehler FCSI

FCSI’s Ask the Design Experts booth

The Foodservice Consultants Society International’s Ask the Design Experts programme offers complimentary, 30-minute consultations with design professionals by appointment. Wade Koehler, executive director of FCSI The Americas, explains.

What can operators get out of this?
Free consulting services, from front-of-house interior design advice including tips on decorating, carpet selection, table selection, and customer flow as well as design tips and business management services. We have had operators bring in a blueprint of a new concept they’re working on to ask the consultants “does this look right?” Sometimes it’s a matter of “I’ve got this concept, where do I start?”

How do you match up visitors with the designers?
Prior to the show, people fill out a questionnaire about what exactly they’re looking for. They can also check out the consultants online to choose who they want to meet. For walk-ups, we ask a lot of detailed questions so we can make sure they’re paired with the right consultant.

What common kitchen design flaws do you see?
Usually it’s the wrong piece of equipment. Some operators don’t realise they don’t need so much. Kitchen space keeps shrinking.

Any hot trends or issues in kitchen design?
Energy costs are through the roof so everybody, from the mom and pops to the national chains, are looking for ways to reduce their footprint, not only for the sake of the environment, but also for the sake of their balance sheets.


Food & Beverage Innovation (FABI) Awards

The Awards recognise progressive food and beverage innovations in the restaurant industry. Selected by an independent panel of operator experts, award winners fall into four main categories: products designed to satisfy a consumer trend; products designed to meet specific lifestyle or diet needs; products with an improvement in nutrition; products with packaging improvements, or that offer value in terms of price, cost savings, labour savings, time savings, sustainability, prep efficiency or a longer shelf life.

The Kitchen Innovation Pavilion

The Kitchen Innovations (KI) Awards pavilion draws visitors looking for the latest in commercial foodservice equipment and supplies. Booth 2440 features the winning products of the KI Awards programme.

Bill Eaton FFCSI, PP of Cini-Little International and Alan Plassche, chairman of the board for the Culinary Institute of American and former CEO of General Foods Foodservice and UniPro, came up with the idea for the KI awards programme in 2004.

Eaton and Plassche quickly recruited a handful of volunteers to help build the KI programme. The KI judges devote a lot of their own time. “Not only are judges the eyes and ears of the programme, they tell us what’s out there,” Plassche says.

To be awarded the KI honour, judges must be in unanimous agreement. “Judges decide on the significance of the innovation and delivery of benefits to the end-user operator,” says Plassche. “We’re looking for significant innovations.”

Past KI winners have been rewarded for energy efficiency and sustainability, “smart” controls and online monitoring. This year’s group includes an oven with an integrated catalytic converter for transforming grease into water vapour; a kitchen equipment programme that offers proprietary asset management, reporting and other technology; a waste oil management system and an induction-powered, countertop soup rethermaliser, among other innovative products.

Amelia Levin


This year’s KI Awards winners are:

Aerowerks Inc.: Mesh Belt Conveyor
A cafeteria conveyor made of a close-knit mesh belt, which eliminates the need for trays and allows the conveyor to turn without creating gaps that cause jamming and breakage.

Alto-Shaam, Inc.: 4.10cci CT Express
A compact combi oven with an integrated catalytic converter that transforms grease-laden vapours into harmless water vapor and CO2.  No hood is required allowing the operator to place wherever needed.

Blendtec: Stealth™
This sound-dampening commercial blender features an online programming tool that allows users to build upon the 42 preprogrammed blend cycles and create new ones for franchise-wide sharing through the USB port.

Duke Manufacturing: X-Stream IH2 Wash System
A system featuring programmable cycles, plug and play components serviceability, pump and sanitiser monitoring, and a unique wash flow that keeps wares in the impingement zone longer – resulting in consistently clean wares with greater water/energy efficiency.

Ecolab Inc., Equipment Care Division: Smart Care Program
A program for critical kitchen equipment that goes beyond scheduled maintenance to include proprietary asset management/reporting technology, customer-facing online tracking tools, equipment cleaning and sanitation products, and pre-programmed critical parts on technician service vehicles for same-day emergency fixes, reduced operating costs and maximum asset ROI.

Follett Corporation: 7 Series Ice and Water Dispenser
A unique design that features built-in recycling to reclaim and refreeze melted ice, allowing for reduced water waste and flexibility to place the dispenser where a drain is unavailable.

Franke Coffee Systems Americas: FoamMaster™
A superautomatic espresso machine that produces hot and cold milk foam in variable textures, to enable traditional and novel coffee+milk combinations and help operators diversify their menus.

Frontline International: M3 Data Management System
Intelligent management technology for waste oil systems, delivering detailed reports/analysis, diagnostic and “tank full” status alerts, and real-time monitoring for increased savings and efficiency.

Garland Group: Green Heat: Module Line Brazing Pan
A unique drop-in induction brazing pan design that features remote electronics placement, multiple depths and in-unit drainage, enabling island suite integration for grilling, searing and cooking with or without liquids.

Hobart: The Advansys LXeR Undercounter
A high-temperature, undercounter warewasher that recycles hot water vapor to preheat incoming cold water significantly reducing steam release when the door is opened after cycles, and lowering overall energy consumption.

Jade Range LLC: Even-Broiler
A unique baffled Char-Broiler design that evenly distributes heat front-to-back for zero cold zones and better output – while individually controlled burners and boxes allow operators flexibility to manipulate individual 6” sections.

KE2: KE2 Evaporator Efficiency
An advance beyond timed controls, this refrigeration control technology significantly reduces both energy consumption and temperature fluctuation by triggering defrost cycles only when necessary, reducing defrost cycles as much as 90%.

Manitowoc Kolpak: ArticFox™
A true on-demand defrost control for walk-ins that activates only when needed, rather than on timers, avoiding unnecessary defrost cycles by as much as 90% to significantly improve energy efficiency and temperature constancy.

Master-Bilt: Parallel Glycol Rack System
A refrigeration system that builds on energy efficient glycol loop technology by utilising floating heat pressure technology, which adjusts to ambient temperatures to lower energy consumption by up to 25%.

Meiko: CS-70 Sanitizing, Door-Type Dishmachine
A low-temp dishwasher featuring an automatic drain/refill feature that eliminates the need for a heater, plus advanced microprocessor technology and an auto prime feature for consistent chemical dispensing – all packaged in simplistic user- and maintenance-friendly design.

Middleby Marshall: WOW 2 Oven
A conveyor oven that allows operators to control bake temperatures and conveyor speed – plus adjust airflow to the top and bottom impingement ports independently for faster, consistent baking and menu flexibility.

Ovention Inc.: Ovention Matchbox
An intelligent, self-loading and unloading oven design that utilises two alternating cook surfaces using impingement only. Doesn’t require a hood and enables food items to be cooked one after another at temperatures that vary by up to 100 degrees.

Pentair: Everpure SimpliFlow™ Water Management System
A wall-mounting manifold for water lines that keeps them organised, accessible and easily identifiable to save time and reduce error when servicing water-using equipment.

Strahman Valves, Inc.: Vari-Spray Pre-rinse Nozzle
A pre-rinse nozzle for commercial kitchens that allows users to adjust between an infinite choice of spray patterns (broad, focused, gentle, hard) by simply varying trigger pressure, allowing flexibility for various cleaning needs.

Technologies Coffea, Inc.: Coffea vacuum brewing system
A programmable, whole bean-to-cup system that uses a vacuum extraction brew process and infusion brew chamber for a calculated steep time and fast, precise extraction – producing the fullest flavour coffee consistently to preference.

The Vollrath Company: Mirage Induction Soup Rethermalizer
An intelligent, countertop unit that uses induction heating instead of water to quickly re-thermalize and maintain optimal temperature for foods like soup, chili, and macaroni and cheese.

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