A Technology Recap from the HOST Show in Milan

By Christopher Huebner

BIM virtual reality, augmented reality, and merged reality was a main feature at this year's HOST Show in Milan. In fact, we gave a full presentation on the latest in VR, AR, and MR hardware and software, which can be viewed below.

But what is this technology, and why is it important?

The first thing to understand is this technology is super high quality. As a point of comparison, the average gaming platform runs at 30 frames per second while virtual reality runs at a minimum of 90 with a much higher resolution. This translates to an experience that is seven times more demanding than PC gaming.

More and more companies are entering the fold in terms of headsets and hardware, making an entry point into a VR world easier by the day. But in the world of foodservice, what does that mean?

It means entering a commercial kitchen space or restaurant with a level of clarity never seen before outside the real world. It means designers will have the ability to provide a vision to end users that is more accurate, less likely to require changes, and is certainly more inspiring than just some lines on a paper.

Get all the details of what we presented in its entirety by watching our full HOST Show Milan presentation video below or download the deck from our presentation.


20 Awesome Things We Saw at the 41st HOST Milan Show

To say that foodservice equipment manufacturers pulled out all the stops at this year's show would be an understatement. Here are 20 foodservice equipment innovations that really caught our eye while we were in Italy.


There were quite a few Argentinian style grills at the show but we really liked the screw pulley system that didn’t contain any of those special airline cables.

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This paella pan is hung from thick steel cables allowing the chef to easily toss this full pan of noodles. The pan can also easily be removed from the steel cables making it more versatile. It was mesmerizing to watch.


Ali Group was everywhere and look at all those brands!


As a frequent NAFEM Show visitor and first time HOST Milan visitor, the gelato and pastry pavilions were massive and a bit overwhelming (like a "kid in a candy shop" kinda way).  There were so many different gelato mix companies along with gelato equipment manufacturers - almost all of which we have never heard of. Loads of free samples and even whole cups of gelato from some booths.


The HOST Milan show is also where the World Championships for many different culinary categories are held. The World Cake Decorating championship was just one of them, and there were over 100 cakes on display. This Finding Nemo cake was one of our favorites.


Have I mention how big this place is? With 24 different pavillons, each one filled with exhibitors all looking to grab your attention and show their product is just what you've been searching for.  So what sets some of these booths apart? Simply, their creative booth designs. This booth used hundreds of orange strings tied to a single pole in the corner and then tied them to each one of the espresso cups on the back wall to create this amazing ceiling effect.  It was abstract, creative and honestly caught everyone in our groups attention so we stopped in to admire.


The Coffee pavilion was extremely overwhelming with hundreds of espresso machines mixed in with hundreds of coffee vendors. We loved the look of this machine and the designer in me was obsessed with their slinky-like drain escutcheon.


This is the front of the machine. Fancy.


There were quite a few of these automatic bartending machines. And yes they served real liquor all day long.


This is Barney, the robot bartender. He had a lovable British accent and an ordering screen where you could order a drink in a real glass cup. Its was exciting to watch the futuristic robot bartender and I could see this being at a resort or on a cruise ship. But they need to speed it up if they are going to try and compete with a real bartender!


35-second French fries with optional salt and/or ketchup. This was a big hit and the fries were delicious, it used an air fryer with no oil and a special U-shaped fry as opposed to the normal square shape. While it looks like a great business idea, we are worried that it still needs constant maintenance since the machine can only hold a relatively small amount of fries and cups. Half of the machine is the fryer and dispenser, it had a large tub of ketchup, and the fry reserve was only about the size of a mini fridge.


This charcoal-fueled grill was something we could see in the US in the near future. They were cooking burgers in the booth, under a hood of course, and it reminded me of the Argentinian style grills combined with a Josper. Multiple cooking shelves close to form an oven and a flat top griddle that can be used to toast buns.


Scraegg as a scrambled egg machine is cool, but it is much more than that. The technology is similar to a steam wand on an espresso machine. Soups, oatmeal, eggs, and I am sure lots of other high-end chef creations can be made from this machine and there is little clean-up or maintenance. They were also the winners of the FCSI Start Up competition. This machine will definitely be in the US, if we were a rep we would be all over it. They don’t have NSF yet though, so don’t expect to see it until next winter.


As a life-long Chesapeake Bay Maryland resident, this machine immediately caught our eyes because it looks very similar to the Orange Crush machines you will find at ever Maryland dock bar.  But instead of crushing an orange, this machine inserts a wooden stick into an ear of corn to create street corn. They were using a hot well to hold two ears of corn in a vacuum bag and serving them to order.  Street corn is delicious and we would love to see more of it served on the street in the US.


The World Pastry and World Chocolate championships were also going on. We still want to eat one of those cherries.


If you want our big takeaway from the show, it is this new style of gelato machine. This isn’t something new in Italy, there were dozens of these machines and all of them worked in a similar way. They are basically just a frozen rotating cylinder with a bowl scrapper. The mix is just poured into the top and the machine starts rotating and freezing the mix into gelato. The gelato was served directly out of the machine, you can see the gelato paddles in their holders in the center which were also spinning around.


This was a small countertop gelato maker. This countertop style where you can pour the ingredients in the top is super interesting, We would expect that high-end chefs would really enjoy the creativity it allows since you can taste your creation after each ingredient unlike the batch gelato makers we are used to seeing.


Our favorite booth at the show was the Carpigiani booth. It was incredible and full of equipment we have never seen before. These tiny drop-in gelato makers also used that same rotating freezing cylinder but were very narrow and deep, probably about 6” diameter and 12” deep.


What looked like one of Carpigiani’s newest creations, this machine turned juice into ice cream. You just scanned the juice with the bar code scanner, then poured it into the top hopper, then waiting about 2-1/2 minutes for the ice cream to be dispensed. Not sure if this was a self-service or service machine, but we expect they are going for self-service to compete with something like the Freel milkshake machine in the US.


We will end on our favorite thing that we tasted at the show, these amazing cherries by Fabbri. They reminded us of high end bar cherries, but they seem to be promoting them as ice cream toppers and that is fine by me. Go order yourself some and you won’t be disappointed.

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Tags: Foodservice, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, HOST Show Milan