Meet your 100 Greats: Equipment, part 1

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Catering Insight is celebrating its 100th issue with a run-down of 100 UK catering equipment industry greats, comprising people, projects, equipment and business developments.

Today we take an in-depth look at the first lot of equipment: Sharp microwaves, Vito fryer oil filters, Adande Aircell refrigeration, Rational combi ovens and Welbilt’s Convosense AI oven.


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Sharp microwave

Still a major name in microwaves today, Sharp developed the R-10, Japan’s first microwave oven in 1961. The company also introduced the first microwave oven with a turntable between 1964 and 1966. While other businesses such as Raytheon and Tappan had previously pioneered microwave ovens, it was Sharp that became the first company to mass produce them.

The Japanese-headquartered company cornered the market in low-cost microwave ovens that were affordable for residential use in the late 1970s. Then the appliance’s use spread into commercial and residential kitchens around the world.

Nowadays the manufacturer continues to lead the way in the commercial microwave sphere, and is well known for creating innovative models that save time and make food preparation that much easier.

Vito fryer oil filters

Vito has done more than most to popularise the idea of fryer oil filtration. The firm’s filter systems are designed to save foodservice sites up to 50% costs simply by cleaning the frying oil, shortening or any other frying medium. After less than 5 minutes the oil is clean, due to the fully automatic filtration process. Vito needs no supervision and offers end user safety due to no contact with the hot frying medium.

With more than 19 years of experience in production and sales of filtration systems, Vito filters became a standard in professional kitchens and bakeries. Founded in 2001 by Andreas Schmidt under the brand of SYS Systemfiltration, the company has now grown to 50 employees, with subsidiaries in Hürth (Germany), Chicago (USA) and Santa Lucia Di Piave (Italy). In 2014 the business’s name changed to Vito AG, a German corporation. Today Vito products are known in 150 countries with over 40,000 customers.

Adande Aircell refrigeration

This decade has seen British manufacturer Adande push its revolutionary Aircell concept through development for open-fronted refrigerated multi-deck cases. The technology works by dividing the case’s merchandising envelope into separate air flow managed cells with small, low pressure air columns.

Each cell has its own air curtain, which is more efficient than a full case height air curtain on a conventional multi-deck case. The net result is less pressure on the air curtain of each cell and a substantial reduction in cold air spillage from the case.

The Aircell airflow management system for chilled display cabinets is designed to create energy savings of over 30% when compared with conventional open-front cabinets. This technology delivers a stable holding temperature and stable humidity, ensuring the food on sale is preserved at optimum quality for longer, thus reducing waste.

Rational combi oven

If any equipment innovation over the past 50 years can truly be said to have revolutionised the commercial kitchen, it’s surely the combi oven. An oven capable of combining steam and heat was invented by Rational in 1976. Since then the combi oven has become the ‘must have’ for chefs in just about every commercial kitchen in the world.

Rational specialised exclusively (until recent years) in the development of combi oven technology, which saw it evolve the concept from its original format into ever more intelligent versions that offered increasingly precise control not only of the heat but also the humidity of the cooking process.

Another way the combi oven proved revolutionary was that it is truly multifunctional. It can be used as a steamer, a convection oven or a combination of the two. It can steam, roast, toast, bake, prove and regenerate.

Welbilt ConvoSense AI oven

Last year’s development of the world’s first AI oven brings bleeding edge technology straight into the heart of the professional kitchen. Welbilt brand Convotherm beat all others to the punch with its ConvoSense technology.

The only aspect of manual work that the operator needs to do is to place a tray full of identical food items into the oven, shut the door, and wait for the ConvoSense’s algorithms to take control of the entire cooking process.

The recognition element of ConvoSense is achieved through an optical sensor which scans each individual tray as it is inserted into the oven, whilst the understanding element is achieved through customer-specific intelligence training which ensures ConvoSense can identify each type of tray in real time. Then its active assistance system automatically chooses the appropriate cooking program for each food tray.

Tags : Catering InsightCatering Insight 100 Greats
Clare Nicholls

The author Clare Nicholls

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