Every January, we assemble a team of Chicago-area judges to select the best examples of tabletop design from all over the United States across five categories. The smallwares specialists, DSRs and operators who take the time to submit their entries are justifiably proud of the work they have done in trying to create something unique and memorable that will stand out and stand up to the test of time.

On the eve of this year's judging, we were introduced to a new term: polar vortex. The record-setting temperatures that besieged the Midwest and the East Coast made it difficult for shipping companies to deliver some of the submissions that were being sent from companies all over the country. Given the high quality of submissions, including the thought and effort that went into them, and the extraordinary complexity the weather introduced to this year's judging, we are even more proud than usual to recognize this year's winners. If you want to see what our judges deemed to be the tops in tabletop, click here.

Sustainability means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. For researchers at MIT, it might mean flow battery technology currently under development that seeks to radically reduce the cost of storing energy produced by sources such as solar and wind. This would be a potential game changer for these alternative energy sources. For most U.S. consumers, sustainability might refer to substantially lower household energy usage between 2011 and 2040, based on a forecast from the U.S. Energy Information administration.

For many in the foodservice industry, sustainability may mean ROI sufficient to unlock the investment dollars needed to upgrade and improve the efficiency of their operations. With that in mind, I would like to call your attention to this month's story "Sustainability in Foodservice: Where We Stand Today." In this article, contributing editor Amelia Levin explores the progress the industry has made in the form of equipment development and through programs such as LEED and Energy Star.

In addition, please make sure to read this month's Parting Shot, "How to Take the Lead in Sustainability." In this article, Mike Kapalko, sustainability marketing manager, for SCA Americas' Tork brand in North America, shares his thoughts about what having a culture of sustainability means in today's foodservice industry and why it is important for companies to measure their progress and share their results with their customers and supply chain partners.