Kitchen & Equipment Awards 2020: supplier category shortlists part 2

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The second of two supplier category shortlist groupings for this year’s Kitchen & Equipment Awards reveals the finalists for the light and heavy equipment innovation and training & education accolades.

Supplier of the Year – Training & Education, sponsored by FEA

This category rewards those suppliers and manufacturers that have invested extensively in education programmes for the benefit of the industry over the past 12 months. The finalists are:

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First Choice Group
By partnering with the likes of the FEA, and becoming a host venue for the CFSP courses in the past year, First Choice Group has shown itself to be a pillar of training and education in the UK foodservice sector. Helping to support everyone from dealers, distributors and wholesalers, to end users, operators and suppliers, the facilities, services and programme of training and education offered by First Choice can rival that of virtually any other supplier in the industry. First Choice Group continues to make full use of its advanced facilities in Cannock, with many events focusing purely on training and education for different parts of the foodservice industry.

Jestic Foodservice Solutions
Despite the pandemic, Jestic still invested in new technology so its training and education programmes could continue. This has included a multi-point live camera system which has enabled it to offer live training and demonstrations to dealers and operators via Zoom in all areas of its test kitchen. Since lockdown was lifted it has also ensured its demonstration kitchens are completely Covid-compliant so that it can still carry out live demos for limited numbers for the full Jestic experience. The supplier has also expanded on its inventory of trial equipment. This library of equipment allows it to loan appliances to potential and existing customers looking to trial new concepts or introduce new technology to their kitchen.

Pizza equipment specialist LLK goes from strength to strength with its Oldham-based demonstration kitchens. The advanced facility allows the LLK team to welcome distributors to update them on bespoke sales training along with engineer training, disseminating truly essential, in-depth product knowledge. The company’s in-house facilities also allow the LLK team to get to grips with their own new products and test them before releasing to market. Furthermore, this year the firm has assisted operators in reinventing their businesses into home delivery and takeaway operations to comply with Covid regulations, via publicity drives with blog posts and through social media. A proactive company with a positive outlook, LLK works hard to engage with its stakeholders.

Maidaid Halcyon
Prior to lockdown, Maidaid had further developed both its sales and engineering training days which are held monthly at its head office in Brackley. In addition, its service team has held dedicated training days to cater for its distributors with a large number of engineers who can only be off the road at certain times due to the nature of the industry. During lockdown, Maidaid hosted online sales training sessions on specific machine ranges to further enhance its distributors’ knowledge on its full product portfolio. The in-house technical team also used this opportunity to put together further training literature and, when requested, tailored training packs and carried out technical assistance digitally.

Training and education have always been a vital part of Rational’s business, from its popular Rational Live events, to its post-sales support, and a suite of apps to help with staff training. This pre-existing framework helped when, just days before the launch of the iCombi Pro and iVario Pro, lockdown was imposed. In order to ensure the launch could go ahead, Rational began developing online marketing resources to help educate accredited Deal dealers and end users, building on its existing material but expanding it into a more comprehensive programme. This included transferring the Rational Live sessions to an online format and running a series of webinars featuring Rational’s expert chefs preparing a range of dishes with the iCombi and iVario.


Supplier of the Year – Light Equipment

This honour recognises a supplier who has brought an innovative piece or range of light equipment to the UK market this year. The finalists are:

Hubbard Systems
At a time when hygiene is even more of a focus than ever, there can have been few launches as timely as the Scotsman XSafe range of icemakers, brought to the UK by Hubbard Systems. The XSafe technology uses ozone, generated by ultraviolet light, to create activated oxygen, which destroys bacteria and viruses while significantly inhibiting the growth of mould, mildew, yeast, slime and odours. Because the activated oxygen is blown throughout the ice machine, it creates a hygienic environment, enhancing the cleanliness of the ice and hence improving food safety. Plus, even through the lockdown, Hubbard Systems continued to deliver its customer service and support package.

Marco Beverage Systems
Marco has launched a complete range of hot and cold undercounter water systems. These systems provide fresh, healthy drinking water to businesses and their customers. Friia is a stylish, sleek and space-saving way to dispense a variety of hot, cold or sparkling water and allows businesses to create and serve a wide variety of beverages such as tea, coffee, sparkling lemonade and fruit infusions from a single system. The systems are estimated as being 23% more energy-efficient than leading competitors and the design is compatible with any location aesthetic. Marco has provided in-person and online training to distributors over the last year, enabling them to understand and sell Friia to their customers.

Over the last 12 months Mechline has introduced HyGenikx into the UK foodservice industry, and extended the range with the launch of a fan assisted model. HyGenikx is an advanced and compact, wall-mounted steriliser system, proven to eradicate viruses and bacteria throughout foodservice and hospitality. The unit utilises a combination of the most effective air and surface sterilisation technologies available to produce superoxide ions and plasma quatro, which are proven to target and kill biological hazards in the kitchen. Mechline has also extended its line-up of BaSix hand wash stations with an all new range of space-saving, mobile, hands-free basins, including the portable ‘X’ model, providing double the washes per litre of any comparable product.

The Unox Bakerlux Speed.Pro, brand new to the UK market, is designed to save kitchen space, combining the performance benefits of both convection and high-speed ovens. Speed.Pro is the first speed baking oven, accelerating cooking times by offering triple cooking; convection, for external golden browning; microwave, for fast internal heating; and conduction, for crusty toasting by contact. The appliance is the culmination of thousands of man-hours in research and development, designed to meet specific challenges for chefs. Unox supported the launch with product explainer videos and marketing information, and running learning seminars for all Cedabond members. The Italian-headquartered manufacturer also launched a smartphone app which allows distributors and end users to build columns of different ovens in an online configurator.

In direct response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Zerica has been putting to good use its knowledge, experience and expertise to provide users with ultra-hygienic, highly sustainable touch-free water dispensing for all tastes. The whole portfolio has been redesigned, adapted and upgraded to make sure users never come into physical contact with machines when dispensing water. The new designs fall into in three key categories: foot pedal operated units such as Futura Pedals and the RFP 206 fountain, contactless ‘hover’ buttons on new models like the Kolumna water dispenser, and app-enabled operation on touchscreen models including the Sikélia, Kolumna and Kemonia. All the app-enabled models use Auxilia, Zerica’s exclusive IoT-enabled remote monitoring and management software with diagnostic function.


Supplier of the Year – Heavy Equipment

This accolade rewards those suppliers and manufacturers that have created the most innovative heavy duty appliance for sale over the past year. The shortlist is:

The new BioMaster from Meiko Green Solutions is innovative because it accepts and processes all food waste including cooking oils and fats and even shells and bones, creating a biomass product that is pumped to holding tanks for collection and eventual conversion to biogas. Biomass is used to create energy, providing a sustainable return and minimising emissions of harmful gases. This AD route is the only technology on offer that provides environmental payback in the form of energy, which provides financial incentive to AD operators and waste collection operators to fund improvements and novel solutions for collection. The BioMaster range is supported directly by the Meiko UK sales team, with publicity support via Meiko UK’s marketing and PR team.

Rational shook up the cooking equipment market this year with the launch of the iCombi Pro and iVario. The iCombi Pro combi steamer offers up to 50% higher productivity, 10% shorter cooking time and 10% lower energy consumption compared to its predecessor. Similarly, the iVario consumes up to 40% less energy than conventional tilting pans and boiling pans and, although connected loads have been reduced compared to its predecessor, it has up to 20% higher searing capacity. Both models have been totally redesigned, with improved ergonomics. The use of intelligent assistants enhance the chef’s capabilities by offering maximum functionality, flexibility, productivity and consistency, whilst at the same time caring for the environment, by reducing consumption of power and water.

Synergy Grill Technology
This year, Synergy Grill Technology launched the Chargo range, the world’s first chargrill oven. Available in three variants, the series is for indoor use, replacing both chargrills and charcoal ovens by operating as both. Chargo cuts gas consumption by a further 20-30% compared to a standard Synergy Grill (already 59%), as well as considerably reducing cooking times by up to half. The series provides total control, as temperature can be set and maintained to within 5°C. It is also designed to provide a safer working environment, as users can simply close the lid. Each model is constructed from sturdy stainless steel and can operate on LPG or natural gas, being fully convertible on site.

Williams has launched a variety of innovative products during 2020. Some were already in the pipeline, others have been developed in response to the market’s rapidly changing needs as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. These include the MaxiPrep prep counter, featuring a clever design, including sliding covers for ingredients wells and an over-shelf, to maximise the worktop area and storage; the Combi Blast Chiller roll-in cabinet, the first on the market to be compatible with trolleys from more than one combi steamer manufacturer; and the foot-operated coldroom door opener, compatible with its modular coldrooms, which allows staff to enter the room without having to touch the door with their hands.

The latest CTR compact conveyor dishwasher from Winterhalter is capable of speeds of up to 195 racks per hour and includes innovative features that reduce energy, water and chemical consumption whilst enhancing performance and wash results. The CTR is based around a modular system that allows options such as drying zones or prewash tanks to be retrofitted, so it can adapt to changing demand. Despite its fast performance, the main wash unit is as little as 1,400mm long and 800mm wide. The flexibility of the modular design and the choice of model variants mean that a CTR system can be customised to make maximum use of available space, whatever the shape of the wash area.

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Clare Nicholls

The author Clare Nicholls

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