Restaurants (whether they are stand alone or act as part of a leisure facility) are generally costly to run and will by their very nature consume a considerable amount of energy. Even by including the simplest energy efficiency measures such as LED lightbulbs and maintaining shut windows, restaurants still need to store food at a certain temperature and provide a well-lit kitchen as a nod to health and safety.
However in regards to cooking food in an energy efficient manner, whilst not compromising professional cooking standards, some have touted the option of an induction hob.
Cooking hobs are traditionally divided into the gas or electric category, with induction hobs sliding into the latter. Induction hobs heat the food in the pan via an electromagnetic induction as opposed to a transfer of heat. This translates to a cooking surface which uses a magnetic reaction to heat the metal pan rather than a cooker which heats itself in order to transfer the heat to the pan.
Because a chef doesn’t need to wait on a stove to heat up in order to pass this heat onto a pan (and in turn wait for pan to heat up too) induction hobs are quicker and as a result use less energy. Due to the heat being created by the reaction between the metal pan and hob there is no excess heat omitted from around the edge of the pan so the hob only creates the amount of heat needed for that size of pan.
Another positive attribute regularly touted is an induction hob’s cleanliness. An absence of excess heat around the pan means that any excess spillage won’t burn onto the stove reducing cleaning times for the staff. The flat glass design of an induction hob also removes the need to clean smaller nooks and crannies. Whilst this won’t directly save energy costs, a reduction in staff cleaning time is a benefit to a business (and allows staff to leave earlier turning all lights off behind them).
Even though transitioning to an induction hob shouldn’t interfere with the cooking standards your customers are familiar with, chefs will need to be introduced to the new set-up and adapt their techniques. An induction hob builds up heat quicker than a traditional hob so a chef who is accustomed to chopping onions whilst the oil heats up will need time to re-prioritise their to-do list for each recipe.
As well as taking some time out for the chefs to familiarise themselves with the new set-up, a kitchen will need to check that all its pots and pans will work with the magnet. Alongside a new induction cooker all pans will need to be steel or iron. Flat-bottomed pans are also favoured in order to create the magnetic current needed which has been reported as an issue by restaurants that typically use woks and other rounded pans.
Induction hobs currently remain more popular in Europe than anywhere else and there are currently several sellers geared towards business customers such as Target Catering Equipment, Millers Catering Equipmentand Lincat. Whether or not an induction hob would be a benefit to a business (for energy efficiency or otherwise) has to be decided on a bespoke basis. Whilst it could definitely result in some energy savings the cost has to be outweighed with the initial outlay of buying an induction stove and the time it may take to re-train the chefs. Thus, energy efficiency should not be the only reason to purchase an induction oven as this purchase would be a nice touch to an energy efficiency model but not essential.
This blog post was original published on the Business Cost Consultants website.