Why Do Restaurants Not Use Induction? Reason Explained

The main reason why restaurants do not use induction is the high initial cost of induction cooktops and compatible cookware. Induction cooking is a technology that uses electromagnetic fields to heat up pots and pans directly, without using an open flame or a heated surface. Induction cooking has many advantages over conventional gas or electric cooking, such as faster heating, better temperature control, energy efficiency, and safety. However, induction cooking also has some drawbacks that make it less appealing for restaurants, especially in the United States. In this article, we will explore some of the factors that influence the adoption of induction cooking in restaurants, and whether it is worth the investment.

The Cost Factor

One of the biggest barriers to induction cooking in restaurants is the high upfront cost of induction cooktops and compatible cookware. Induction cooktops are more expensive than gas or electric stoves, ranging from $500 to $3000 per unit, depending on the size, power, and features. Induction cooktops also require special cookware that is made of ferromagnetic materials, such as cast iron, steel, or enameled iron. These cookware are usually heavier, more durable, and more expensive than non-magnetic cookware, such as aluminum, copper, or glass. A restaurant that wants to switch to induction cooking would have to replace all of its existing cookware with induction-compatible ones, which can be a significant investment.

According to a study by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), the average payback period for induction cooktops in restaurants is about 11 years, based on the energy savings and maintenance costs. However, this payback period does not account for the cost of replacing the cookware, which can vary widely depending on the type and quality of the cookware. The study also notes that the payback period can be shorter or longer depending on the electricity and gas prices, the usage patterns, and the incentives or rebates available for induction cooktops.

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The Cultural Factor

Another factor that affects the adoption of induction cooking in restaurants is the cultural preference and familiarity with gas or electric cooking. Many chefs and cooks prefer gas or electric stoves because they are used to them, and they feel more comfortable and confident with them. Gas or electric stoves also provide visual and tactile feedback, such as the flame size, the heat intensity, and the sound of the sizzling food, that induction cooktops lack. Some chefs and cooks also believe that gas or electric stoves produce better results, such as the searing, browning, or charring of the food, that induction cooktops cannot replicate.

Induction cooking also requires some adjustments and adaptations in the cooking techniques and habits. For example, induction cooktops heat up and cool down faster than gas or electric stoves, which means that the chefs and cooks have to be more attentive and precise with the temperature settings and the timing of the cooking. Induction cooktops also have different power levels and modes, such as boost, simmer, or keep warm, that may not correspond to the conventional low, medium, or high settings of gas or electric stoves. Induction cooktops also have safety features, such as automatic shut-off, overheat protection, or pan detection, that may interfere with the cooking process or cause errors or malfunctions.

These factors may create a learning curve and a resistance to change for the chefs and cooks who are used to gas or electric cooking. Moreover, some customers may also have a preference or expectation for gas or electric cooking, especially in certain cuisines or dishes that are traditionally cooked with gas or electric stoves, such as Chinese, Indian, or Mexican food. Therefore, induction cooking may not be suitable or appealing for all types of restaurants or customers.

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The Benefits Factor

Despite the challenges and drawbacks of induction cooking, there are also many benefits and advantages that may outweigh the costs and risks for some restaurants. Induction cooking can offer:

  • Faster heating: Induction cooktops can heat up the cookware and the food faster than gas or electric stoves, which can save time and increase productivity in the kitchen. Induction cooktops can also boil water faster, which can be useful for preparing pasta, rice, or soups.
  • Better temperature control: Induction cooktops can provide more precise and consistent temperature control than gas or electric stoves, which can improve the quality and consistency of the food. Induction cooktops can also maintain a low and steady temperature, which can be ideal for simmering, melting, or warming the food.
  • Energy efficiency: Induction cooktops can use less energy than gas or electric stoves, because they transfer the heat directly to the cookware and the food, without wasting heat to the surrounding air. Induction cooktops can also adjust the power output according to the size and shape of the cookware, which can prevent overcooking or undercooking the food. According to the ACEEE study, induction cooktops can save up to 50% of the energy compared to gas or electric stoves, which can lower the utility bills and the carbon footprint of the restaurant.
  • Safety: Induction cooktops can reduce the risk of fire, burns, or gas leaks, because they do not use an open flame or a heated surface. Induction cooktops also have safety features, such as automatic shut-off, overheat protection, or pan detection, that can prevent accidents or injuries. Induction cooktops can also improve the indoor air quality and the comfort of the kitchen, because they do not produce smoke, fumes, or carbon monoxide, which can cause health problems or discomfort for the chefs and cooks.
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The Conclusion

Induction cooking is a technology that has many benefits and advantages over conventional gas or electric cooking, such as faster heating, better temperature control, energy efficiency, and safety. However, induction cooking also has some drawbacks and challenges that make it less appealing for restaurants, especially in the United States, such as the high initial cost of induction cooktops and compatible cookware, the cultural preference and familiarity with gas or electric cooking, and the adjustments and adaptations in the cooking techniques and habits. Therefore, induction cooking may not be the best option for every restaurant, and it depends on the type, size, budget, and goals of the restaurant, as well as the preferences and expectations of the chefs, cooks, and customers. Induction cooking may be more suitable for restaurants that value speed, quality, consistency, efficiency, and safety, and that are willing to invest in the technology and the training. Induction cooking may also become more popular and affordable in the future, as the technology improves, the prices drop, and the awareness and acceptance increase.