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UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES

As we reported earlier this year, restrictions on natural gas-powered appliances have sparked alarm among chefs and restaurant owners alike, who worry any bans on gas stoves will fundamentally change the way some cuisines are prepared. Professional and home chefs know cooking on a gas stovetop greatly improves performance, citing the precise temperature control that natural gas provides as well as the ability to quickly heat food on an open flame. These proposed bans undercut cuisines that have relied on open flame cooking for centuries, including many authentic dishes of East Asian, South Asian and Latin American cuisine.


Well . . .


One of the world’s most famous chefs, José Andrés, wants to open his first Bay Area restaurant at a high-end shopping center Palo Alto, California — but decided to ditch his plans because of a municipal gas ban. The city originally said his building won’t be able to connect to a gas line already constructed to serve the restaurant, despite being approved for gas before the city changed its rules for natural gas in new construction.


Andrés restaurant Zaytinya has locations in New York City and Washington, D.C., serving Turkish, Greek and Lebanese dishes using traditional cooking methods that require gas appliances to achieve its signature, complex flavors. Without a gas connection and appliances, Zaytinya would be forced to alter its signature five-star menu, which it is unwilling to do.


This story has a nice ending, though.


The owner of the shopping center threatened to sue the City of Palo Alto over their new gas ban building code for all new buildings. Faced with the threat of a lawsuit, Palo Alto administrators reversed their earlier decision and will now allow the new restaurant that chef José Andrés plans to open to use natural gas.


The dispute illustrates the growing tension over efforts to phase out natural gas in California and the implications for the restaurant industry. In Berkeley last month, a federal appeals court overturned the city’s first-in-the-nation ban on natural gas lines in new buildings after a lawsuit filed by the California Restaurant Association.


It shouldn’t take threats of lawsuits for the home cook or corner café with no Michelin Stars to have their choice of cooking fuel and appliance. Food and cooking bring families together and natural gas is the best choice for our kitchens:

  1. You have total control and convenience. You can see the flame and adjust it to the exact size and heat you desire. You can’t say that about electric or induction cooktops.

  2. It’s fast and reliable. Natural gas cooktops offer instant on/off flame with the flick of a switch. Burners heat up fast and stay consistently hot.

  3. It’s efficient. Our modern and high-tech gas ranges are cost-efficient to run with surprisingly low operating costs.

  4. Gas just works. Any food. Any cookware. Anytime. You won’t be running to Google to find out “will my pan work with this range…” You’ll just be doing what you love — cooking delicious meals. You can use a wide variety of cookware and cooking methods.

  5. Losing power doesn’t mean you have to stop cooking. During ice storms or anytime your home loses power, your natural gas range will still work, even without electricity!

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