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Induction Cooking Keeps Cooks Cool

Food service professionals learn how induction cooking improves energy efficiency while supporting a clean energy future.
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Stories : The Grid
Stories : The Grid

Induction Cooking Keeps Cooks Cool

Food service professionals learn how induction cooking improves energy efficiency while supporting a clean energy future.
Photo Credit: Elisa Ferrari

IRWINDALE, Calif. — Chef Lance Corralez was cooking up a storm in the test kitchen at Southern California Edison’s Foodservice Technology Center at a recent induction cooking seminar. On the menu: paella, tomato soup, grilled cheese sandwiches and seared steak. But Corralez wasn’t sweating it.

“The great thing about induction cooking is that it keeps the kitchen a lot cooler,” he said.

Chef Lance Corralez uses an induction stovetop to cook for participants in SCE’s induction cooking demonstration.
Chef Lance Corralez uses an induction stovetop to cook for participants in SCE’s induction cooking demonstration.

Room temperatures on cook lines featuring traditional appliances can often reach 110 degrees. But in induction cooking, magnetic energy is transferred from the stove to the cooking vessel to directly heat the food. This means there is minimal heat waste and energy efficiencies of up to 80 or 90 percent.

“The magnetic field is heating the pot. All the heat is going where it needs to go,” said David Zabrowski, head of California’s Food Service Technology Center and keynoter at the event.

SCE Senior Advisor Karen Klepack attended the event to find information for SCE’s commercial customers who want to incorporate induction cooking appliances into new buildings. “There are also additional environmental benefits,” she said. “All-electric induction cooking reduces our reliance on natural gas, which is a fossil fuel.”   

A portable “front of house” cart allows tableside preparation without open flames.
A portable “front of house” cart allows tableside preparation without open flames.

The recent SCE seminar was geared toward the food industry and featured three of the largest commercial induction cookware manufacturers in the country: Vollrath, Garland and CookTek. The manufacturers demonstrated their latest cookware, including superhot grills, stovetops, portable tableside grills and soup warmers. Vollrath even brought an entire kitchen in a tractor-trailer from Wisconsin.

Induction cooking “is a technology that has come of age,” said CookTek General Manager Dan Farmer, noting that an induction stovetop can boil a cup of water in eight seconds. 

Tim Davis, energy manager at Sprouts Farmers Market, attended the event to learn more about recent industry advances. “Energy is a big item for us,” he said, noting that Sprouts has already adopted induction heating into its salad bars to heat their soups.

Chef Lance Corralez discusses technique with chef and caterer Graydon Orr, and MiraCosta College Associate Professor Lisa Jenkins Orr.
Chef Lance Corralez discusses technique with chef and caterer Graydon Orr, and MiraCosta College Associate Professor Lisa Jenkins Orr.

Associate professor Lisa Jenkins Orr of MiraCosta College, who teaches sustainable facilities management, attended the seminar to pick up tips to share with her students. “If I can catch them when they are learning, they can let go of the flame.”

Her husband, Graydon Orr, a chef and caterer, sees the safety of induction cooking as a real world solution for some of his current challenges. “Many clients don’t allow flames in their buildings, meaning that we have to run hot food up from loading docks … And even when that isn’t an issue, using sterno under chafing dishes seems archaic.”

Induction technology has been used for more than 100 years, and according to Paul Hallal, senior product sales manager lead at Garland, “the Europeans have been using induction cooking for the last 30 years. Today, induction cooking is experiencing double-digit growth in the U.S. every year.”

And innovation is driving innovation. Indicating his competitors in the room, Farmer noted, “the manufacturers are driving each other to bring innovation to the marketplace.” And to boil a faster, cleaner cup of water.    

SCE’s Foodservice Technology Center offers free workshops in Irwindale and Tulare. More information is available here.

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