Content sponsored by Manitowoc Foodservice

Advanced cooking technology debuted with Merrychef microwave ovens in the early 1960s, but it's only in the past decade that it has been widely embraced by a broad spectrum of foodservice operators. They're fast discovering the many benefits the technology delivers, benefits that start with faster speed of service and extend to labor and energy reduction, waste reduction, "smart" functionality and space-saving efficiency. With a complete portfolio of advanced Cooking Technology (ACT) equipment brands and a dedicated team of specialists to assist with strategic selection and implementation, Manitowoc Foodservice is the industry's only one-source ACT solution.

The company's Merrychef, Convotherm, Lincoln and Garland brands all offer ACT platforms to meet diverse menu and operational needs, from pizza and hot sandwich production to steak, seafood and delicate pastry items for fine dining and banquets. And, all include ground-breaking products that have been recognized with National Restaurant Association (NRA) Kitchen Innovation Awards.

"eikonic" Innovation

The most recent award, in 2010, went to Merrychef's new eikon series speed ovens. In addition to cooking foods up to 15 times faster than conventional ovens, they offer innovative easy ToUCHâ„¢ technology that's now a standard feature on both Merrychef and Convotherm ACT cooking solutions. A simple icon-driven touch screen incorporates instant menu management with archive capabilities; easy Ethernet updates with a standard USB key; operator training and service maintenance instructions. It can be programmed in multiple languages and requires pushing just two buttons, or icons, to cook menu items perfectly to pre-set specifications, every time. For employees, it's as simple and familiar to use as an iPod, dramatically reducing training times and eliminating the risk of human error.

Used alone or in combination, ACT solutions help operators:

  • Expand menus and tap into trends by enabling the addition of items that would take too much time in conventional ovens.
  • Increase speed of service by up to 80 percent, boosting throughput, sales, and profits.
  • Cook to order, increasing quality and eliminating holding and waste.
  • Save space and energy. Footprints are small, energy use is often half that of conventional equipment, and no external ventilation systems are required.
  • Improve product quality and consistency thanks to full back-end programmability and simple, intuitive operation.

Broad Product Line, Expert Support

"There was a time when Merrychef stood alone in the Manitowoc ACT armory," says Mark Richardson, vice president of ACT product management. "Now, with various marquee Manitowoc Foodservice brands developing complementary ACT technology that is no longer the case. We present a full portfolio of ACT products and work on a very consultative basis to determine which platform best meets individual customer needs."

Richardson heads a six-member team created in the spring of 2010 to bring specialized accelerated cooking process and equipment expertise to the marketplace. All team members come from either a restaurant operations or culinary background. Depending on the project, they work with Manitowoc's internal and external sales forces as well as with its culinary and high-performance kitchens teams.

On the need for specialized ACT support, Richardson says integrating this category of equipment into existing foodservice kitchens requires a more systemic approach for the operator. "Cook times are drastically different than conventional methods. Our team helps clients understand those differences and, based on their unique menu and operational needs, make the right ACT equipment choice for their business. Beyond the equipment itself, we also partner with our customers by providing operational expertise and solutions focused on helping them be more profitable and see real, measurable benefits to working with us on an ongoing basis."

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