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National Restaurant Association - What are your favorite Kitchen Innovations?

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What are your favorite Kitchen Innovations?


What equipment helps you save resources, energy and time? What fryers, combi ovens or ware washers would you put in your dream kitchen? We're looking for the smartest kitchen innovations on the market.

Encourage your suppliers to apply for our Kitchen Innovations Award by Dec. 4. We'll recognize the winners May 21-24, 2016, at the National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show  in Chicago. Eligible equipment and technology must have been introduced to the marketplace between May 2014 and May 2016.

Here some kitchen advancements from previous winners:

Energy efficiency

  • Nieco Corporation’s BroilVection captures waste heat and blows it back on food being broiled.
  • Novothermic Technologies’ Dishwasher Heat Exchanger uses wasted heat from hot water used within the unit to warm incoming water.
  • Ware washers that use fewer than 100 gallons of water an hour, compared to older models that use more than 300.

FOG solutions

  • Ventilation systems that improve removal of grease, smoke and odor from the air, especially demand-control systems such as a Halton model that won in 2009.
  • Breakthroughs in energy efficiency, heat recovery and filtering which allow for longer oil life and safer operation of deep fat fyers. Last year, one fryer had  a constant filtering system that drains oil internally. Employees don't have to drain the fry pot, so there's less risk of getting burned.
  •  Grease recovery systems that intercept fat, oil and grease before they clog grease traps. Some facilitate the conversion of waste into usable energy, such as Vegawatt's Cogeneration System, which generates on-site electricity from a fryer’s waste vegetable oil. A Springboard Biodiesel fryer converts FOGs to biodiesel.

Combined cooking technology

  • Combining induction, microwave, radiant heat and conductive heat improves efficiency and enables chefs to easily fine-tune dishes. Many, such as Ovention Matchbox and TurboChef Fire, don’t require hoods for ventilation.
  • Rational's 2014 winning oven cooks with steam and dry heat and eliminates the need for open flames. Its sensors automatically regulate and adjust cooking time, heat and consistency, allowing chefs to do mixed loads, such as steaming broccoli and salmon at the same time, without cross transferring flavors. Chef Jose Gonzalez shares the magic at NRA Show 2014, pictured above.

Food safety

  • Automatic temperature tracking and better blast chillers. Beverage-Air's ChillStar Blast Chillers/Freezers, uses multiple sensors to monitor temperatures in the core, and beneath and on the surface to prevent surface freezing/degradation.
  • Irinox USA's Multi Fresh Blast Chillers combine blast-chilling, shock-freezing, rapid thawing and proofing.


  • A machine that consistently batters bread.
  • A slicer designed to safely create chips from day-old bagels.
    Coca-Cola's Freestyle beverage system dispenses more than 100 varieties of soda, flavored water, lemonade and sports drinks.

Our Kitchen Innovations Award began in 2005 to solve operator challenges and improve back-of-the-house effectiveness.  KI Award recipients receive publicity though the NRA’s media relations efforts, listings in NRA Show marketing and promotional materials, placement on the NRA Show website, and featured placement on the NRA Show floor. The Kitchen Innovations Pavilion attracts thousands of operators, dealers, consultants and media professionals for demonstrations.

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