The National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show®, the foodservice industry’s premier event, today announced the 20 recipients of the 2023 Kitchen Innovations (KI) Awards. Each year, the KI Awards program recognizes the year’s most forward-thinking and cutting-edge kitchen equipment and product innovations that meaningfully improve foodservice operations. The National Restaurant Association Show brings together more restaurant, hospitality buyers and equipment manufacturers than any other industry event and will be held May 20-23 at McCormick Place in Chicago.

The KI Awards program has earned a reputation for defining the gold standard of foodservice equipment innovations. This year’s recipients reflect the trends and topics most important to foodservice operators today, while generating industry growth through a focus on automation, efficiency, safety improvements, sustainability, and more. The KI Award recipients were selected by an independent panel of judges comprised of industry leaders and internationally recognized food facility consultants, multi-unit executives and design experts.

The 2023 Kitchen Innovations Award recipients include the following:

ConvoSense – Convotherm

ConvoSense is the world’s first AI-powered, fully automated combi oven cooking and baking system. ConvoSense sees what the operator is loading and instantly launches the perfect cooking program to produce it. Adept at mixed loads, food can be loaded all at once or one tray at a time. ConvoSense recognizes the food as it is loaded and launches the correct cooking program for each tray while simultaneously managing the entire cooking cavity for consistent, exceptional results.

LXnR – Hobart – ITW Food Equipment Group

Offering an industry exclusive two-level undercounter rack design, preliminarily debuted on the LXeR model, the LXnR is the only two-level undercounter that’s NSF certified. This innovation increases throughput while reducing water, energy, and labor. Rated at 48 racks/hour, the fastest undercounter throughput in the industry, the design consists of a molded rack guide and removable wire rack equipped to fit bowls, plates, and utensils.  

Merrychef conneX® with Automated Panini Press – Merrychef®

The new Merrychef conneX® range with panini press is the first high speed cooking platform able to deliver a full 16”+ square cooking cavity allowing both batch and on-demand cooking in an 18” UL certified ventless countertop platform. The tri-pleX technology allows for the fastest, quietest and most energy efficient speed oven in its class. The patented press accessory, unattached to the oven, slides in and out with one handed ease. A newly engineered auto-lift of the press enables smooth loading/unloading.

Elevate Autonomous Retail Merchandiser — Structural Concepts

Structural Concepts is the only refrigerated OEM to design and manufacture a complete smart solution for autonomous shopping. Offsetting labor challenges, an appealing merchandising format with increased capacity, a cashier-less transactional system, and the ability to streamline inventory management, this single solution provides a quick ROI turning into increased profitability.

PLEXOR M2 – TurboChef Technologies, LLC

TurboChef’s PLEXOR M2 is the first oven to feature separate impingement and rapid-cook cavities - or two rapid-cook cavities. Like its A3 predecessor, the M2 is modular and can be pre-specified or field swappable to any desired configuration.

All KI Award recipients receive additional industry-wide exposure throughout the Show channels and their media partners. This prestigious endorsement opens doors to new business opportunities and recognition from operators, media and dealers. This year, KI Awardees will again be featured in a dedicated showroom in the South Hall at McCormick Place and highlighted in special programming at the show.