NAFEM Show focuses on ‘green,’ highlights next-generation equipment and supplies

NAFEM Show focuses on ‘green,’ highlights next-generation equipment and supplies

ATLANTA —Don’t underestimate the power of an idea whose time has come. Just ask officials of the Georgia World Congress Center here. They had to bar more people from entering an already-packed “Why Go Green?” educational session at The NAFEM Show 2007 because of local fire ordinances. The standing-room-only crowd peppered a panel of equipment gurus with questions for 20 minutes after the session was scheduled to end.

The issue that packed the house is energy-efficient foodservice equipment, which represents a path to significant energy savings and a cleaner environment. It’s part of a growing “green” consciousness in the industry that created a buzz on the exhibit floors and in the breakout rooms of the North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers’ confab, which brought an estimated 20,000 attendees and 600 exhibitors to Atlanta last month. —Don’t underestimate the power of an idea whose time has come. Just ask officials of the Georgia World Congress Center here. They had to bar more people from entering an already-packed “Why Go Green?” educational session at The NAFEM Show 2007 because of local fire ordinances. The standing-room-only crowd peppered a panel of equipment gurus with questions for 20 minutes after the session was scheduled to end.

The turnout for “Why Go Green?” surprised and pleased one longtime eco-warrior on the panel. —Don’t underestimate the power of an idea whose time has come. Just ask officials of the Georgia World Congress Center here. They had to bar more people from entering an already-packed “Why Go Green?” educational session at The NAFEM Show 2007 because of local fire ordinances. The standing-room-only crowd peppered a panel of equipment gurus with questions for 20 minutes after the session was scheduled to end.

“We were not expecting it,” said Don Fisher of the Food Service Technology Center in San Ramon, Calif., who has developed energy-efficiency testing methods for two decades. “I think you’re beginning to see a paradigm shift. Green is becoming real.” —Don’t underestimate the power of an idea whose time has come. Just ask officials of the Georgia World Congress Center here. They had to bar more people from entering an already-packed “Why Go Green?” educational session at The NAFEM Show 2007 because of local fire ordinances. The standing-room-only crowd peppered a panel of equipment gurus with questions for 20 minutes after the session was scheduled to end.

Green interest was “more audible” in Atlanta than at recent NAFEM shows, said Dennis Romer, NAFEM trade show advisory council chair and an executive with PuriCore/Sterilox Food Safety of Malvern, Pa. —Don’t underestimate the power of an idea whose time has come. Just ask officials of the Georgia World Congress Center here. They had to bar more people from entering an already-packed “Why Go Green?” educational session at The NAFEM Show 2007 because of local fire ordinances. The standing-room-only crowd peppered a panel of equipment gurus with questions for 20 minutes after the session was scheduled to end.

“In past shows, it has been tough to point to a unifying theme,” he said. “But in this one, the green aspect and energy efficiency served to unify the discussion.” —Don’t underestimate the power of an idea whose time has come. Just ask officials of the Georgia World Congress Center here. They had to bar more people from entering an already-packed “Why Go Green?” educational session at The NAFEM Show 2007 because of local fire ordinances. The standing-room-only crowd peppered a panel of equipment gurus with questions for 20 minutes after the session was scheduled to end.

However, sessions with food safety themes were not far behind in audience appeal. In one break-out, Colleen Zenk, health care services manager of Sysco Minnesota in St. Paul, Minn., outlined a sanitation accountability system for foodservice employees. —Don’t underestimate the power of an idea whose time has come. Just ask officials of the Georgia World Congress Center here. They had to bar more people from entering an already-packed “Why Go Green?” educational session at The NAFEM Show 2007 because of local fire ordinances. The standing-room-only crowd peppered a panel of equipment gurus with questions for 20 minutes after the session was scheduled to end.

“Accountability has to come from the top down and apply to all employees and all departments,” Zenk said. “If you’re not accountable, how can you expect anyone else to be accountable?” —Don’t underestimate the power of an idea whose time has come. Just ask officials of the Georgia World Congress Center here. They had to bar more people from entering an already-packed “Why Go Green?” educational session at The NAFEM Show 2007 because of local fire ordinances. The standing-room-only crowd peppered a panel of equipment gurus with questions for 20 minutes after the session was scheduled to end.

Among the tools Zenk urged operators to provide their employees were thermometers, portion-control pumps for cleaning supplies, and record-keeping logs, charts and checklists. She also urged attendees to build food safety accountability into job descriptions and to offer more positive reinforcement. —Don’t underestimate the power of an idea whose time has come. Just ask officials of the Georgia World Congress Center here. They had to bar more people from entering an already-packed “Why Go Green?” educational session at The NAFEM Show 2007 because of local fire ordinances. The standing-room-only crowd peppered a panel of equipment gurus with questions for 20 minutes after the session was scheduled to end.

“We don’t praise people enough,” Zenk said. —Don’t underestimate the power of an idea whose time has come. Just ask officials of the Georgia World Congress Center here. They had to bar more people from entering an already-packed “Why Go Green?” educational session at The NAFEM Show 2007 because of local fire ordinances. The standing-room-only crowd peppered a panel of equipment gurus with questions for 20 minutes after the session was scheduled to end.

On the exhibit floors, equipment addressed a litany of operator needs, such as a convection oven with a self-cleaning cycle that saves time and labor. Some exhibitors touted enhancements of standard equipment, such as an ice machine with a freezing process that yields denser, slower-melting ice cubes better suited to signature cocktails, a refrigerated food display case with a compressor that slides out for easy service, and natural wool filters for vent hoods that capture grease and promise to reduce the need for costly exhaust-hood cleaning. Add to that some things that just make sense, such as a belt-clip pager that connects with a convection oven to summon the chef when cooking is done. —Don’t underestimate the power of an idea whose time has come. Just ask officials of the Georgia World Congress Center here. They had to bar more people from entering an already-packed “Why Go Green?” educational session at The NAFEM Show 2007 because of local fire ordinances. The standing-room-only crowd peppered a panel of equipment gurus with questions for 20 minutes after the session was scheduled to end.

Many other products dealt with food safety, such as a device for pasteurizing eggs inside the shell without changing their taste qualities. Increasingly visible, too, were “smart” applications, such as a wireless solution for remote temperature monitoring of cooking and cooling equipment for HACCP compliance. —Don’t underestimate the power of an idea whose time has come. Just ask officials of the Georgia World Congress Center here. They had to bar more people from entering an already-packed “Why Go Green?” educational session at The NAFEM Show 2007 because of local fire ordinances. The standing-room-only crowd peppered a panel of equipment gurus with questions for 20 minutes after the session was scheduled to end.

Among the operators exploring the exhibit floor was Robin Phillips [3], project agent for Aramark Corp. [4], the Philadelphia-based contract foodservice company. She said she came “to bang the doors and kick the tires” of equipment that could be useful in her design work. Among the pieces she perused were European-style refrigerated cases with sleek, curved-glass fronts, befitting the trend of installing attractive equipment in front-of-the-house action-cooking stations. —Don’t underestimate the power of an idea whose time has come. Just ask officials of the Georgia World Congress Center here. They had to bar more people from entering an already-packed “Why Go Green?” educational session at The NAFEM Show 2007 because of local fire ordinances. The standing-room-only crowd peppered a panel of equipment gurus with questions for 20 minutes after the session was scheduled to end.

Taking advantage of NAFEM’s presence in his backyard was first-time attendee Hal Freeman, foodservice director of LowCountry Barbecue Catering and the months-old LowCountry Barbecue Outpost restaurant, based in Smyrna, Ga. The latter is the catering outfit’s first casual-dining restaurant and the reason for his NAFEM trip. —Don’t underestimate the power of an idea whose time has come. Just ask officials of the Georgia World Congress Center here. They had to bar more people from entering an already-packed “Why Go Green?” educational session at The NAFEM Show 2007 because of local fire ordinances. The standing-room-only crowd peppered a panel of equipment gurus with questions for 20 minutes after the session was scheduled to end.

“We’re looking at the equipment we’ll use for the next restaurant, in terms of fryers, smokers, warming cabinets, grills and steam wells,” Freeman said. —Don’t underestimate the power of an idea whose time has come. Just ask officials of the Georgia World Congress Center here. They had to bar more people from entering an already-packed “Why Go Green?” educational session at The NAFEM Show 2007 because of local fire ordinances. The standing-room-only crowd peppered a panel of equipment gurus with questions for 20 minutes after the session was scheduled to end.

Among the pieces he fancied were well-insulated, energy-efficient fryers with easy cleaning capability and a system for downloading food-handling temperatures from equipment for food safety recordkeeping. —Don’t underestimate the power of an idea whose time has come. Just ask officials of the Georgia World Congress Center here. They had to bar more people from entering an already-packed “Why Go Green?” educational session at The NAFEM Show 2007 because of local fire ordinances. The standing-room-only crowd peppered a panel of equipment gurus with questions for 20 minutes after the session was scheduled to end.

Also browsing fryers was Roddy Smith, vice president of operations for Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers [5], a 65-unit, Baton Rouge, La.-based quick-service chain. —Don’t underestimate the power of an idea whose time has come. Just ask officials of the Georgia World Congress Center here. They had to bar more people from entering an already-packed “Why Go Green?” educational session at The NAFEM Show 2007 because of local fire ordinances. The standing-room-only crowd peppered a panel of equipment gurus with questions for 20 minutes after the session was scheduled to end.

“Our menu is very focused on using high-quality equipment,” Smith said, adding that food safety also is “something we’re always concerned about.” —Don’t underestimate the power of an idea whose time has come. Just ask officials of the Georgia World Congress Center here. They had to bar more people from entering an already-packed “Why Go Green?” educational session at The NAFEM Show 2007 because of local fire ordinances. The standing-room-only crowd peppered a panel of equipment gurus with questions for 20 minutes after the session was scheduled to end.

Some operators took advantage of the first-ever co-location of NAFEM and the FS/TEC foodservice technology show. —Don’t underestimate the power of an idea whose time has come. Just ask officials of the Georgia World Congress Center here. They had to bar more people from entering an already-packed “Why Go Green?” educational session at The NAFEM Show 2007 because of local fire ordinances. The standing-room-only crowd peppered a panel of equipment gurus with questions for 20 minutes after the session was scheduled to end.

“We talk a lot about integrating point-of-sale and other technologies into our foodservice venues,” said Aramark’s Phillips. “But it’s so nice to be able to actually touch and play with hand-held-ordering devices, touch screens and so on.” —Don’t underestimate the power of an idea whose time has come. Just ask officials of the Georgia World Congress Center here. They had to bar more people from entering an already-packed “Why Go Green?” educational session at The NAFEM Show 2007 because of local fire ordinances. The standing-room-only crowd peppered a panel of equipment gurus with questions for 20 minutes after the session was scheduled to end.

Doug Davis, information systems coordinator of Monical’s Pizza [6], a Bradley, Ill.-based chain with 59 units, walked the aisles of NAFEM as well as FS/TEC to keep abreast of innovation. —Don’t underestimate the power of an idea whose time has come. Just ask officials of the Georgia World Congress Center here. They had to bar more people from entering an already-packed “Why Go Green?” educational session at The NAFEM Show 2007 because of local fire ordinances. The standing-room-only crowd peppered a panel of equipment gurus with questions for 20 minutes after the session was scheduled to end.

“If the company buys a mixer that has a feedback mechanism built into it, they’ll ask the IT guy to hook it up to the network,” Davis said. “I better know what’s coming down the pike, because I can’t afford to be blindsided two years from now.” —Don’t underestimate the power of an idea whose time has come. Just ask officials of the Georgia World Congress Center here. They had to bar more people from entering an already-packed “Why Go Green?” educational session at The NAFEM Show 2007 because of local fire ordinances. The standing-room-only crowd peppered a panel of equipment gurus with questions for 20 minutes after the session was scheduled to end.

Two corporate IT staffers were in the five-person Raising Cane’s show contingent. —Don’t underestimate the power of an idea whose time has come. Just ask officials of the Georgia World Congress Center here. They had to bar more people from entering an already-packed “Why Go Green?” educational session at The NAFEM Show 2007 because of local fire ordinances. The standing-room-only crowd peppered a panel of equipment gurus with questions for 20 minutes after the session was scheduled to end.

“We have initiatives for enterprise management of all our technology right now, so it’s great to have both shows in one spot,” Smith said. “There’s no separation anymore between cooking equipment and technology.” —Don’t underestimate the power of an idea whose time has come. Just ask officials of the Georgia World Congress Center here. They had to bar more people from entering an already-packed “Why Go Green?” educational session at The NAFEM Show 2007 because of local fire ordinances. The standing-room-only crowd peppered a panel of equipment gurus with questions for 20 minutes after the session was scheduled to end.

Looking ahead, observers see the trend toward environmental responsibility gathering even more momentum by the time NAFEM next convenes in Orlando in February 2009. —Don’t underestimate the power of an idea whose time has come. Just ask officials of the Georgia World Congress Center here. They had to bar more people from entering an already-packed “Why Go Green?” educational session at The NAFEM Show 2007 because of local fire ordinances. The standing-room-only crowd peppered a panel of equipment gurus with questions for 20 minutes after the session was scheduled to end.

“The players who aren’t in the energy-efficiency game now are going to change,” said Food Service Technology Center’s Don Fisher. “I think you’ll see the movement pull the whole industry ahead.” —Don’t underestimate the power of an idea whose time has come. Just ask officials of the Georgia World Congress Center here. They had to bar more people from entering an already-packed “Why Go Green?” educational session at The NAFEM Show 2007 because of local fire ordinances. The standing-room-only crowd peppered a panel of equipment gurus with questions for 20 minutes after the session was scheduled to end.