When Graham Hill designed his first LifeEdited apartment, he did not include a permanent stove or range top; instead he had three little induction hotplates that he would pull out as needed. It was edgy at the time- who ever heard of a kitchen without a stove? In fact, it was really prescient. According to the UK Vice food site Munchies, London’s Top Chefs Are All Cooking on £99 Induction Hobs now. Chloe Scott-Moncrieff describes it:
At P. Franco wine bar in London, an act of culinary sorcery is about to commence. Tim Spedding, former sous chef at the Michelin-starred Clove Club, is standing in front of two induction hobs. There’s no pacojet, no sous vide bath, no army of chefs running the pass. Instead, it’s just Spedding working two portable electric hobs with the adroitness of a DJ behind the decks. “Here, with limited cooking capacity, you focus entirely on presenting the best ingredients in the most balanced way.”
Other chefs agree, saying “I wouldn’t ever go back to gas….”Once you get the hang of them, they’re far easier than cooking on gas or electric.” James Lowe of a Michelin starred restaurant thinks that a lot of it has to do with finally getting over snobbery.
A lot of chefs love cooking on gas still because it’s reminiscent of the French grand cuisine days. It’s ‘proper cooking’ controlling the heat by eye, which you don’t have when you’re selecting heat by a number on induction,” he says. “If you look at the kitchens in Paris, they will all be gas with solid tops—no induction, no grills, or ‘barbecues’ as they call them.”
But he says people are using induction now because it is cheaper and faster, and “restaurateurs and chefs are becoming more creative with spaces that previously might have been deemed unsuitable.”
I have been complaining about the use of big gas ranges inside houses, and keep showing this kitchen in a passive house in Brooklyn designed by Michael Ingui, suggesting that it was ridiculous and should not be in a Passive House. In fact, Michael explained to me recently that it was not such a big deal, that it was not hard to provide the makeup air required and still stay within the Passive House parameters.
But I still believe that the air quality is going to be better inside if one is not burning gas. And if the chefs are now saying that induction is actually better, why bother with gas? Or as Chloe notes, “induction hobs are seen as a useful and accessible piece of kit for the ambitious chef with limited money and space.”
Perhaps it’s time for amateur chefs and their architects to get over this obsession with commercial gas ranges in residential kitchens.
It lets them be creative with their cooking and the kind of spaces they set up in.