Saving water is more important than ever, and restaurants and foodservice operators are still among the main culprits when it comes to water waste. Not only are gallons of precious water being wasted each day at restaurants big and small across the nation for defrosting purposes, but water bills are sky high due to all of the water waste.
To combat this problem, CNSRV WTR’s co-founder and President Dylan Wolff knew something needed to change. While visiting a close friend working as a prep cook at the back of a restaurant, he saw firsthand how much water was being wasted in the daily defrosting of frozen food items.
“My friend called me up one day and explained to me how he worked a 6-hour shift and realized that the water was running his entire shift just to defrost some frozen items,” he explained. “California was experiencing one of the worst droughts ever and here we were wasting all this water. We knew something needed to be done about this.” That one incident prompted the next three-in-a-half years of work to get the innovative product to market.
While Wolff does not have an academic engineering degree, he’s always been involved in product development and problem solving, helping companies find solutions throughout his professional career. With CNSRV WTR, Wolff and his team created a sustainable food defroster for commercial kitchens, with the goal to optimize the cold water defrosting method.
Instead of placing frozen food in a sink and running cold water over it for hours at time, the team looked at the health code and reverse engineered a product that not only cuts water usage down to around 8 gallons per use, but also cuts defrosting time in half. With restaurants of all sizes in mind, CNSRV WTR Defroster will also work in other kitchen settings, such as hospitals and school cafeterias. It’s designed to fit in an 18” sink, but the beauty of it, Wolff admits, is that it’s flexible.
“Our product is a dual container system that can be run either in a sink or on a cart, counter, or prep board,” he noted. Frozen food is loaded into the interior container and then cold water is filled all the way to the fill line of the exterior container, so that when the defroster is running, water will overflow through the device’s six holes of the interior container. The water level will always remain above the fill line of the exterior container as the water is recirculated back and forth between the two containers. Food should be defrosted in less than two hours. The water stays under 68-degrees thanks to a heater and thermostat, allowing an even defrosting process that entirely encapsulates the food items so that it defrosts evenly.
“With the CNSRV WTR device, food is fully submerged in water,” Wolff stressed. “According to the health code, food needs to be fully submerged, but you’d be surprised at what we’ve seen in kitchens. What happens is that restaurants are often in a bind and sometimes cut corners. They either use warm water, which is unsafe, or have the frozen food sitting in still water. Even when cold water is on full blast, a lot of the food is untouched by the stream of water.”
Thanks to the device’s pump, heater and thermostat, the water is recirculated between the two containers at a greater force than a kitchen sink running water. The heater is what regulates temperature and the thermostat will automatically turn off the heater if it goes above 68 degrees. Although saving water is the defroster’s primary goal, it also saves on electricity bills given it runs on a standard plug-in volt with 310W of power. Cleaning it is simple, too, especially when bagged frozen food is used.
Given there is not a lot of innovation in this space, the CNSRV WTR Defroster has been a hit with restaurants all across the country. Thanks to wonderful feedback, a newer and larger version will be introduced in the near future.
Chefs also like using CNSRV WTR given it saves and improves the flavor profile. According to Wolff, there have been studies on defrosting food and research has shown that the faster you can defrost food, the better the flavor profile remains. “Restaurants saw a huge jump in the quality of the product for the customer when using the device,” he explains.
At just $600 a unit, a restaurant can easily determine if more units are needed after a few months of use. The CNSRV WTR Defroster was built to mimic an 18” prep sink, which is the common denominator they noticed when the defrosting period took place in various restaurants. Wolff mentioned that many restaurants have started out with two units and have ordered more as needed. “We had a customer tell us that their water bill savings essentially paid for their three units in just 30 days,” Wolff concluded.
For the restaurant/foodservice professional looking for a solution to the daily challenge of combining the safe defrosting of food while adhering to a practical and sustainable agenda, the CNSRV WTR Defroster provides a recipe for success.
To learn more about CNSRV WTR, operators are encouraged to visit their website.