Heading to the National Restaurant Association’s annual trade show in search of energy-efficient equipment? The fine folks at PG&E’s Food Service Technology Center (FSTC) offered a few tips on what to look for during a webcast last week.
Webinar panelists included David Zabrowski, general manager of Fischer-Nickel Inc. and the FSTC, Richard Young, senior engineer and director of education at the FSTC, and Mark Finck, senior engineer at the FSTC. Here are a few highlights that should help focus your search during the NRA Show.
A few notable types of equipment FSTC’s three energy-efficiency experts on the webinar recommend watching for at the show include:
- High-speed ovens. Some manufacturers now offer powerful cooking without a microwave.
- Mini combi ovens. This equipment segment has exploded, figuratively of course, with the narrow design of mini combis make them a great fit for smaller footprints and increased menu flexibility. The self-cleaning features with mini combis are another big driver from the end-user standpoint, said Finck. These mini versions “it brings combination oven technology down to a scale and cost point that makes it a lot easier for the average restaurant for operator to try,” said Zabrowski. Another mini combi scales everything down, right to the pan size. Zabrowski said he’s curious to see what NRA Show attendees think of the new pan size.
- Smaller ovens that manage the heat load. Zabrowski noted some new equipment “does a great job of being able to filter the air stream.” This can lead to more pleasant cooking environments and place less of a strain on heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems.
- Ventless equipment. One of the key attractions to ventless equipment is the flexibility it offers, said Young, who added that the heat still stays in the space. “This is a way of dealing with the emissions of the oven,” he said.
- Smart toasters. The key behind smart toasters is that they do not run 24/7, said Young. Countertop appliances of the past, such as toasters, would be on all day. In reality, Zabrowski said, they may not need to run all day any longer. New technology ingrained in smaller countertop equipment can offer smart controls, he said, allowing appliances to be smart-responsive and reduce energy during non-peak times without requiring a crew member to make the adjustment.
- Induction. This technology has been in the emerging area for a long time, but Zabrowski said he believes “today is the day that induction has arrived.” The technology is now more robust and induction cooking has become more cost effective, he said. “We are seeing a lot of really innovative applications of induction for holding and warming, as well as for primary cooking.” Zabrowski said they are also seeing more induction in the back of the house.
Want more on energy-efficient equipment? There’s still time to listen to the free webcast.