Yesterday saw the grand reveal of this year’s Commercial Kitchen Innovation Challenge winners.
The contest pitted the latest cutting edge catering equipment launches against each other, with visitors to the exhibition on Tuesday at the Birmingham NEC voting on the original 25 contenders to cut them down to a shortlist of 10.
These top 10 then pitched their innovations yesterday morning to a panel of judges comprising: Jack Sharkey, MD of Vision Commercial Kitchens; Tyron Stephens-Smith, project and creative director at TAG; Antony Bennett, head of food at Loungers, Sarah Fryer, purchasing manager at Greene King; Craig Brookfield, kitchen design and equipment manager at Greene King; Abby Hughes, group food and beverage director at Kew Green Hotels; and Paul Taylor, executive chef at Hilton Birmingham Metropole.
With judges deciding whether the top 10 products were worthy of a gold, silver or bronze award, they collectively stated: “We were really impressed with the number of innovations launched in and around the show – these are getting bigger than ever.
“Please keep innovating to maintain the standard, which went above and beyond for this year.”
The results were announced to a packed Keynote Theatre onsite at the show yesterday afternoon, with five companies scooping the top gold award: Adande, Carpigiani, Synergy Grill, Trak and Unox.
Adande’s entry was for the Aircell Sarma grab and go chilled cabinet, which provides tight temperature control and ensures cold air doesn’t fall from the unit. The judges commented: “The product is a radical innovation in airflow technology.”
Carpigiani’s recognition was for its Freeze&Go countertop batch gelato freezer which was launched at Commercial Kitchen itself. The retro-styled unit can produce five ice cream portions in front of diners in just 6 minutes, or 5kg an hour. Judges praised its “great design”, adding: “It is absolutely revolutionising the fresh gelato market.”
The next gold winner was Synergy Grill’s Mark 2 appliance, designed to be multifunctional. Using patented burner technology, the grill operates a complete combustion which is said to half energy consumption compared to average conventional grills, and atomises residue fat. Judges’ comments included: “This is British innovation at its best and we were impressed with the grill’s green credentials.”
Trak’s Hot and Cold Display unit was the fourth gold victor. The appliance features two lights, one for hot food and another for cold, which have been designed by specialist light engineers to improve food display. Innovation Challenge judges analysed: “We were so impressed with the quick turnaround from hot to cold. The product has a great aesthetic and it is definitely innovative technology.”
Completing the golden line-up was Unox’s new Evereo ‘hot refrigerator’, which can preserve dishes at serving temperature for days or even weeks. Judges heaped praise on this newly-launched product, stating: “We see this as a radical innovation for the market. It will be an absolute game-changer.”
Furthermore, the contest saw two products gain silver award recognition. The first of these was Environmental Products & Services’ FilterShield FS1500 food waste management unit. The drawer-type system is designed with a front-loading filter basket to fit underneath sinks, saving space. Judges felt: “This is a great, simple and effective solution which makes the best use of kitchen space.”
The second silver award went to General Catering Solutions for the Rog Grill, which uses a roller system to produce fat free grilling. The automated unit is designed to ensure consistent cooking with an even 250°C temperature and five adjustable roller speeds. According to the judges: “We were impressed with the consistent temperature and the cooking consistency.”
Three products won bronze awards in this year’s Commercial Kitchen Innovation Challenge too: Retigo, Shepherd Filters and Target Catering Equipment.
Retigo triumphed thanks to its Hold-o-mat oven, which can slow cook meat and hold food while remaining energy efficient. It also features a dehumidifying system to keep breaded dishes crispy. Judges said that this was “a great product which represents an upgrade in technology”.
Shephers Filters won for its 100% wool filter for combatting grease build-up in kitchen extract systems. The filter is designed to capture 98% of airborne grease, reducing fire risk and environmental challenges. Judges praised the product’s “great biodegradable credentials”.
Rounding out the victors was Target Catering Equipment’s Target Bespoke Induction range, which consists of round, square, rectangular and wok induction coils to cater to different styles of cooking. Judges said that: “It’s great to see such a new product solution being brought to market.”
The rest of the original Innovation Challenge contenders comprised: Cuisinequip: Mycook Professional; DC Warewashing & Icemaking Systems: DC Optima Double Hood Passthrough; ETI: ThermaData WiFi Loggers; Foodservice Equipment Marketing: The Vector oven; Liebherr-Great Britain: SmartMonitoring from Liebherr; Meiko UK: Meiko M-iClean H hood dishwasher; Menumaster: Menumaster Xpress-IQ MRX; Panasonic UK: Panasonic NE-1878; PRM Waste Systems: Bio Processor; Reco-Air: Reco-Air UL Listed Models; Roller Grill UK: Le Premium; Trak: IsoBox Mobil Flex; True Refrigeration UK: TCR/TCF undercounter refrig-freezer; Vent UK: Vent Air; and Welbilt: Garland Induction Instinct Hob 3.5.