Operations

Here are the National Restaurant Association's 2024 Kitchen Innovation Awardees

25 cutting-edge equipment products were singled out for advancements in sustainability, automation, safety and more. And yes, there are robots and AI in the mix.
KI logo
The National Restaurant Association Show has been celebrating the most innovative equipment products since 2005. | Image courtesy of National Restaurant Association Show.

The National Restaurant Association Show announced the recipients of the 2024 Kitchen Innovation (KI) Awards on Wednesday. This marks the 20th year of the awards program, which singles out equipment products for their advancements in automation, sustainability, efficiency, safety and more.

The winners run the gamut, from AI-enhanced combi ovens to pizza-making robots, fancy espresso machines, touch-screen mixers and high-tech sanitizers and beer dispensers.

The 25 awardees, the largest number yet, were selected by an independent panel of judges comprised of industry leaders across the foodservice industry. The winners are recognized for developing the most forward-thinking and cutting-edge products and solutions.

“The KI Awards have been instrumental in defining excellence and driving innovation within the foodservice industry for two decades,” said Tom Cindric, President of the National Restaurant Association Show, in a statement. “The evolving landscape of technology—including developments in AI, robotic solutions, autonomous ordering and customer service—has elevated the KI Awards to expand beyond back-of-house operations to also recognize innovations that offer labor, waste and energy savings.”

Here's a quick look at the 25 groundbreakers that earned a 2024 KI Award:

Alpha Cloud-Patty Quality Assistant by Aniai is a burger cooking robot called “Alpha Grill” that features cloud-based AI to enhance quality control.

OrderHQ Exterior Smart Food Locker Solution from Apex Order Pickup offers through-the-wall order pickup with an air circulation system that controls temperature.

ImVection IMV-4E from Blodgett Ovens is built with four chambers, each providing a choice of impingement or convection cooking.

E-Series 24G by Broaster Company is a unique infrared, forced air, high-volume pressure fryer with eight heads; it can swing from pressure to open frying in the same cycle.

Nexa Concentrates 2.0 Hand Hygiene System from Ecolab uses refillable soap and sanitizer dispensers to significantly reduce waste and cost.

Rapid Multi Surface Disinfectant Cleaner by Ecolab is a 4-in-1 cleaner that works on a variety of surfaces, killing common viruses including flu, Covid and RSV.

Evo EVent Open Canopy Hood from Evo America offers high-volume removal of grease-laden cooking and frying vapors by using ozone and cyclonic separation.

Mytico Due by Franke Coffee Systems blends sleek design and patented technology to create authentic barista-quality espresso drinks.

Aura by Henkelman is a next-gen vacuum-packaging system that automatically tailors a packaging solution to many food categories.

CL Rack Conveyor Dishmachine from Hobartfeatures a unique capless wash arm design, significantly reducing the time required for machine cleaning and deliming.

TRI-TEMP Kold Pak Pizza Prep Tabletop by Kwick Cool combines a retarder cabinet, Bluetooth controller for remote monitoring of temperature zones, and an insulating system for improved temperature stability, plus a new sensor that fine-tunes food temperature changes.

PizzaBot by Lab2Fab automates the pizza-making process from forming the dough, to applying sauce and toppings, to baking—all with a result that looks like it was touched by a chef.

Discrete CFV by Newton CFV (Constant Flow Valve) provides a fixed flow rate that improves beverage quality, decreases waste and reduces service costs.

Everpure EZ-RO Reverse Osmosis System from Pentair Water Systems has an advanced membrane that achieves up to 50% water recovery compared to conventional reverse osmosis systems, plus its small footprint allows for easy mounting.

Torq Fryer by Pitco Frialator boasts a unique pivoting filter arm that raises out of the oil for easy changes; forced convection for efficient heating and continuous filtration are other perks.

iCareSystem Auto Dose from Rational USA uses solid cleaner and solid deliming cartridges that are recyclable and housed within the combi itself. The software determines exact dosages as conditions warrant. 

Y-Valve by T&S Brass and Bronze Works is a spray valve that enhances cleaning efficiency while minimizing water and time for warewashing.

I-robo by TechMagic Inc. can cook a variety of stir-fry recipes in a compact footprint, streamlining every step, from seasoning ingredients to pan distribution.

True Ice by True Manufacturing features patented evaporator technology designed to prevent contamination. Upgraded insulation enables increased ice production with decreased energy consumption.

CHEFTOP-X  Digital.ID from UNOX is a combi oven equipped with AI that interacts with the chef, asking for feedback on cooking results to optimize performance.

ERGO Series by Varimixer is an ergonomic, hygienic and simpler-to-use mixer with a touchscreen display of customizable recipes.

Xpress Multipurpose Cooktop from Waring simplifies and perfects crepe making, but it’s versatile enough to warm or cook tortillas, quesadillas, omelets, pizza dough and more.

Cervizi by Wild Goose Filling is a data-driven draft beer dispensing system that reduces waste and increases service efficiency, ultimately boosting revenue.

The M5 Bargun by Wunder-Bar uses CFV technology to ensure the accuracy of pours at the bar. It’s a lighter weight bargun with an ergonomic design and faster flow rates.

The 2024 KI Award recipients will be featured in a dedicated Kitchen Innovations Showroom in the South Hall of McCormick Place during the National Restaurant Association Show in May. The Show is operated by Informa, the parent company of Restaurant Business and FoodService Director.

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