Level 2: Entering the Realm of Innovation

Kitchens of the future will do more than simply specify energy-efficient equipment. Efficient design — really thinking about what is truly needed in the kitchen, and how cooking in the future can play off of a more efficient kitchen design — that’s starting to enter the realm of innovation, according to Zabrowski.

‚ÄúWhat if we replaced that six-burner range with a four-burner range and a two-pot induction cooktop, just to dip our feet in induction,‚Äù he said.  Induction technology was a common topic at the FSTC conference; at 85 percent energy efficient, it blasts the gas and even traditional electric competition because it won‚Äôt turn on unless an induction pot comes into play, Zabrowski noted. In addition to the switch to induction, thin-bottom pots could also work on a gas range instead of traditional stockpots to speed up cooking time and reduce energy use.

Next, a lid could be added to the charboiler, Zabrowski points out as one of the simplest adjustments to make. Not only does this reserve energy within the unit during idle time, it also prevents cooks from searing their faces off while standing in front of the 500-degree appliance all day long.

A clamshell griddle might take the place of a traditional griddle, again for better heat recovery and preservation, as long as the operator remembers to close the lid in between uses. Cooking times also speed up due to double-sided searing — again, saving energy.

Another idea Zabrowski explored is replacing the top of the double-stacked convection oven with a combi oven, the “Swiss Army knife of kitchen appliances” because of its multiple uses. By adding the combi and switching to a batch steamer (connectionless with added heat recovery capability) for greater production volume in a smaller space and energy footprint, Zabrowski’s example became even more efficient.

“At this point, I still have a 20-foot cookline, plus a salamander that runs all day long, but I’ve gotten almost $5,000 back in equipment costs,” Zabrowski said. “I’ve shaved a lot of cost off the charboiler, the griddle and a little on the steamer, and am now down to $11,000 in annual operating costs. By making strategic appliance substitutions, I’ve dropped my operating costs by almost half from a standard cookline, and I haven’t changed that much.”

Level 3: Let’s Get Crazy

Here’s where Zabrowski really delved into the cookline of the future. “I’m really going to go wild now and set up the most high-tech, efficient kitchen I can,” he said.

The first question to ask: do I really need that charbroiler? “I have a combi that I can turn to 500 degrees F if I really need to, and I have a clamshell griddle,” he said. And, speaking of the clamshell griddle, does it make sense for this cookline to use a two-foot unit instead of a four-foot one? With faster cooking and heat recover times, perhaps there’s less need for a larger unit when one can handle most of the cooking.

The next question becomes, does the operation really need an additional convection oven? Once you have one combi, Zabrowski says, you can pretty much do it all. Maybe not all at once, but certainly with some small batch cooking and strategic planning, there’s less of a need for double-stacked ovens. Some operators even do the bulk of their cooking using rapid-cook ovens.

Perhaps instead of a double convection we now have a double combi oven unit as the new “workhorse of the kitchen,” even taking up some of the duties of the charbroiler and range.

“Do I really need a stock pot range — can I do better?” Zabrowski asked. To really push the envelope, how about going all induction?