Automation, Innovation and Induction Reign -- NAFEM 2023 Orlando Show Recap
Every other year, the North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers (NAFEM) has a trade show. It's three whole days packed with food, equipment, supplies and demonstrations, sure to leave you full. By full I mean with both new information and food, of course!
This year was particularly exciting because, due to COVID-19, the show hasn’t happened in more than three years! Half a dozen of our team members headed to sunny Orlando, Florida; it was the largest contingency elite|studio e has ever sent! And although they didn't bring back a palm tree, I at least got all the new and exciting information they brought back with them. They were able to share details with our entire team!
Before they embarked on this exciting journey, I asked each elite|studio e team member a question so we could share the answer with all of you. Below are their responses as well as some other tidbits from NAFEM 2023!
Zach Einhorn, Project Director
This is your first NAFEM Show, what was your biggest takeaway?
AI and robotics are becoming a big part of foodservice. We've seen it in the past, but it was more prevalent at NAFEM where there were several robotic pieces of equipment whether it be a salad concept or a robot flipping burgers.
Also ventless equipment is really becoming the standard for major cooking appliances, including dish rooms. These types of technology can not only save on operator costs in terms of staffing, but also infrastructure costs for a building or a new space.
Another takeaway to note is the amount of sustainable electrical equipment. These solutions are meeting the requirements of some regions and goals of various companies to be environmentally conscious, while revolutionizing the commercial kitchen, providing better cooking performance and a safer workplace.
Learn more about the importance of the electric kitchen and these pieces of equipment.
Ivan Weiss, President & COO
With your experience and position in the company, what are the benefits to attending this trade show?
Most importantly, there is never too much experience or too much to learn. I enjoy attending shows such as NAFEM for a variety of reasons. Primarily, it is very easy in my position to become distanced from the product. By attending industry events, I spend time seeing the latest innovations and ensure I am familiar with products that benefit our clients. Ultimately, it allows me to stay close to elite|studio e's primary goal: delivering innovative solutions to our clients.
Our vendor partners are an extension of our company to our clients and to the projects. In addition to walking the show, I spend a great deal of time meeting with our partners before, during, and after show hours. We discuss new and upcoming ideas, service relationships, partnership strategies, and ways that we can mutually improve what we do as a team. This allows us to not only bring innovation to our clients, but also the service model that we expect as a company, which is the highest in the industry.
Internally, NAFEM and similar shows give me a terrific opportunity to spend time with our team. The typical business days are very busy with meetings, calls, and project needs. At NAFEM, we take a break from that. The time spent traveling together, sharing meals, walking the show, and discussing ways that products can benefit our projects allows us to discuss a wide range of topics. This is always one of my favorite parts of the experience.
I am passionate about my own dedication to learning. I believe that there are always opportunities to get better, see new things, and improve. NAFEM is just one of many opportunities to do just that and I look forward to NAFEM 2025!
Josh Mass, Vice President of Project Solutions What was the most innovative piece of equipment?
There were two pieces of equipment that I think we could all agree on that fit this bill -- and based on the crowds around them at the show and social media posts from industry professionals -- our team isn't alone. The Structural Concepts Autonomous Markets & Coolers, which is pictured below, features just walk out technology in a box! And, of course, there is Vollrath's SerVue, which was also a hit at the 2022 National Restaurant Show. The unit is a touchless refrigerated slide-in that displays fresh ingredients making it easy for the operator to refill and a unique experience for the consumer.
Aaron Weiss, Senior Vice President of Project Solutions: What did you see at the show that you would be most likely to implement in our design and/or build projects?
Primarily, the Hobart Bottle washer. This is so simple it hurts. An amenity paired next to ice/water, or at a coffee bar. Thirty seconds and poof your water bottle is cleaned and ready to go!
Structural Concepts Autonomous Markets & Coolers stood out to me. From one cooler, to a few, or a full micromarket; they are intelligent like an Amazon Go and largely out of the box which is amazing. It's simple to roll out and easily integrated with the operator’s POS tech product. I am looking forward to implementing it in our products.
Induction, induction, induction. As we are seeing a push away from gas, manufacturers are answering with induction-based solutions for so much of the production line. Even griddles!
Garin Wong, Vice President of Consulting Services
You have been attending NAFEM for years, what would you tell someone who is attending their first show?
Go in with a blank notebook, a couple of pens, camera ready to take pics on your phone, don’t spend too much time at a particular booth so that you can try to cover the entire show the first day and then come back to the ones you really want to spend extra time at. And bring 2 pairs of shoes to switch out each day…your feet with thank you later!
Some of Our Pics
As promised, Garin and the rest of our team had their phones out and were camera ready. Below are just a few of the booths they visited during NAFEM. I know the elite|studio e team and I have learned so much from their experience and hope you have too! Looking forward to seeing you in Georgia at for NAFEM 2025!