The cooker is used for heating and swirling, sautéing and creating culinary magic. It is a faithful companion for cooks in the daily stress test. Without it, the kitchen stays cold. For a long time, the hospitality industry was all ablaze with excitement for gas cookers, whether in a simple inn or a Michelin-rated restaurant. The gas cooker is quick and efficient, and the heat can be easily regulated with the intensity of the flame. Flat pans and pots can be placed on the grids above the flame just as safely as woks with their rounded bottoms. And when the gas is switched off, the heat is gone too, so that the dish can simply be left on the cooker to cool.
But for a few years now, the innovative induction hob has been competing with the good old gas cooker. Induction hobs have flat induction coils made of copper wire under their glass ceramic surface. When a suitable pot is placed on the hob, the coils generate an electromagnetic field. Part of that energy is converted into heat in the bottom of the pot. The hob itself remains cool and there is no open fire. This means that the surroundings do not get hot and there is less risk of injury. The heat can be precisely regulated and vanishes as soon as the induction hob is switched off. This reduces the risk of burning something while cooking. However, there is one small disadvantage: Special ferromagnetic pots and pans are needed for induction hotplates.
‘Caterers, for example, have been using mobile induction hobs for a long time. They also use them at trade fairs or other events where cooking is done onsite. The upside: It is no longer necessary to set up an entire kitchen block in order to cook. ‘The mobile induction hobs work anywhere with a power socket’, explains Lukas Maj, Head of Target Group Management HoReCa METRO Deutschland. Flexible, space-saving and fast – these characteristics make induction hobs and especially mobile induction plates extremely practical. A mobile appliance can also be just as useful for testing in a restaurant kitchen, but ultimately a large cooker is recommended for continuous use. ‘Smaller mobile appliances do not offer the same performance level and service life, but they make up for it with their flexibility’, explains Lukas Maj.
A complete transformation
In his restaurant Krazy Kitchen, Philipp Pippert parted ways with gas cookers years ago. He now relies entirely on permanently installed induction hobs. For him, there was one crucial aspect, which many restaurateurs have to face in their everyday restaurant operation. ‘Gas hobs are extremely difficult to keep clean because of the grid plates. Often something slips through the grid and burns, and then you have to spend a long time scrubbing it’, he explains. ‘With induction hobs, it’s much easier.’ The quick clean-up saves a lot of time and effort, allowing you to focus on other areas that actually benefits the guests.
The induction hob has also gained popularity because of another feature: It doesn’t work with open flames that usually spread heat throughout the kitchen. ‘I work a lot on the gas cooker. The flames make you sweat a lot, especially in the summer’, says Daniel Baur from Restaurant EssBar in Düsseldorf. ‘I use mobile induction plates when I have to put a few more pots on.’ In the long run, he is thinking about a complete conversion to induction. ‘It also reduces the risk of less experienced chefs getting burnt’, he adds.
The Michelin-rated restaurant Agata’s in Düsseldorf has already switched to induction. Head Chef Philipp Lange assesses the advantages: ‘Gas is more fun because the flame allows you to work with different temperature zones and cook with more feeling. But induction is much more pleasant for everyday use. The cookware gets hot faster, cools down faster, and the hob is much easier to clean.’
Induction for a new generation
Philipp Pippert from Krazy Kitchen is sure that ‘the gas cooker will certainly not disappear from all kitchens’. The transition from gas to induction obviously makes many restaurateurs uneasy. But induction has been growing in popularity for a few years and is gaining acceptance in many kitchens thanks to its advantages. ‘I think that many older cooks learned their trade on the gas cooker – from other professionals who only ever cooked on the gas cooker. The industry lacks role models’, says Pippert. His prediction: ‘More and more kitchens are switching to induction. Ultimately, a new generation of cooks will enter the field and they will be much more open to using this technology.’
Time for induction? The pros and cons
+ quick and easy to clean
+ easier to handle than gas, thus also suitable for beginners
+ easy to regulate
+ no flame and therefore no heat in the kitchen
+ very flexible thanks to mobile induction appliances
– special ferromagnetic pots and pans necessary
– cooking habits must be adjusted to switch from gas to induction