Home Air Quality Chef Christopher Galarza on the Electrification & Decarbonization of the Commercial Kitchen

Chef Christopher Galarza on the Electrification & Decarbonization of the Commercial Kitchen

Chef Christopher A. Galarza

VERONA, PA.The electrification and decarbonization of the commercial kitchen is becoming a hot topic throughout the hospitality industry. Green Lodging News recently addressed the topic in a Publisher’s Point of View column which highlighted the work of the William J. Worthen Foundation. The Foundation addresses all-electric kitchens in its “The Building Decarbonization Practice Guide.” Also championing a transition to all-electric and less carbon-intensive kitchens is Chef Christopher A. Galarza. A strong proponent of electric induction cooking, he is the author of Understanding the Green Industrial Revolution, An Interdisciplinary Look At the Hospitality Industry, Founder/Culinary Sustainability Consultant with Forward Dining Solutions LLC, and one of the operators of EcoChef, the world’s first electric kitchen rating system and certification. Green Lodging News recently spoke with Chef Galarza to learn about his work.

GLN: What is driving the movement toward 100 percent electric kitchens?

Chef Galarza: “People are looking to be part of the solution in the battle against climate change. They are looking for low-hanging fruit that can have immense impact. Removing the open flame in the kitchen is the fastest way to cool your space, improve indoor air quality, and reduce carbon emissions. You don’t have to remodel. Chefs are looking for a way to take care of consumers. We have more people to feed with less staff. We have to work incredibly fast. When you are presented with equipment that can increase production with less staff, it becomes a no brainer.”

GLN: What legislation are you aware of that has mandated the transition to electric?

Chef Galarza: “A total of 141 cities and jurisdictions have passed ordinances—affecting 10 percent of the U.S. population.”

GLN: What hesitancies have you come across as you help transition your clients to all-electric?
Chef Galarza: “There’s a lot. First, lack of understanding and lack of education around the subject. They don’t want to risk it not working. People overcomplicate things. Chefs think you can’t produce quality food. The Culinary Olympics was done with all-electric kitchens. Some are afraid they will break the glass on induction ranges. It’s tempered ceramic glass. It can handle temperatures up to 1,470 degrees before the glass warps or cracks. You would have to use a sledgehammer to break it.”

GLN: Regarding indoor air quality, what have studies shown regarding the hazards of cooking with natural gas?

Chef Galarza: “Carbon monoxide is one of the biggest ones I point to. Cooking indoors we are seeing numbers far exceeding what is safe for outdoors. You also have nitrogen oxide, CO2, formaldehyde, and benzene. There is no safe level of benzene. When you are not even cooking, benzene levels are high. The methane is also intense. In commercial kitchens, the pilot is on 24 hours a day. It is constantly pumping out pollution. It is an insane way of operating your business.”

GLN: In making the transition to induction heating, do you find businesses having to purchase new pans and pots?

Chef Galarza: “Not always. Cast iron is induction ready. If a magnet sticks to the bottom of the pan, it is induction ready.”

GLN: How common are financial incentives for induction equipment?

Chef Galarza: “Every jurisdiction/utility is different. It never hurts to call.”

GLN: Are you seeing the hotel industry make the transition to all-electric?

Chef Galarza: “Around the world it is a big deal, but the U.S. hospitality sector is being dragged kicking and screaming. There are some pilots in the works. We need the industry to step up to be leaders. I am trying to be a voice for chefs.”

GLN: Tell our readers about the EcoChef certification program.

Chef Galarza: “EcoChef stands as a pioneering electric kitchen rating system meticulously crafted by leading experts at Forward Dining Solutions. It is designed to revolutionize the landscape of commercial kitchens by standardizing the conception, construction, and operation of sustainable culinary spaces. At its core, EcoChef is driven by a dual mission: decarbonizing the hospitality industry and elevating the well-being of hospitality professionals all without sacrificing performance.

“We worked for two years developing this. It is an effort to standardize how the kitchen of the future operates. The EPA was heavily involved with the certification. It puts sustainability in easy mode. If your kitchen is EcoChef certified, you are future proofing your business. Your facility can earn Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum certification. In addition, we offer EcoChef Accreditation at the Associate, Culinary, and Practitioner levels.

“EcoChef Standards encompass energy efficiency, health, comfort, food waste, and innovation. The EcoChef team is made up of professional chefs with decades of cooking experience, sustainable kitchen practices and extensive expertise in sustainable commercial kitchens; a certified architect and sustainability innovator at the forefront of green building certification development; and a policy analyst with deep knowledge of building performance standards and compliance legislation.”

Glenn Hasek can be reached at greenlodgingnews@gmail.com.