Just when you thought you’d learned a lot about the utility needs of a restaurant . . . this article focuses on utilities other than electricity. And there are plenty of them! Gas and steam provide power for many of the major kitchen appliances you will use and may also run your heating and/or cooling system. A basic knowledge of water and plumbing also is necessary. In this article, we will discuss:
The uses of gas and steam in foodservice
The basics of how gas and steam equipment work
Energy-saving use and maintenance tips
Water quality issues and how to deal with them
Basic foodservice plumbing requirements
Installing and maintaining a drainage system
Hot-water needs, and how water heaters work
Gas has many uses in foodservice. You may use it to heat or cool your building, to heat water, to cook food, to chill food, to incinerate waste, and/or to dry dishes or linens. It’s called natural gas because, indeed, it is not man-made. It was formed underground several million years ago by the decay of prehistoric plants and animals, and is now pumped to the earth’s surface for use as a fuel. Illustration 6-1 shows how natural gas is extracted from wells, then processed and transported through a series of pipelines to its final destination: your restaurant.
ILLUSTRATION 6-1 How natural gas gets from the ground to the customer.
The American Gas Association credits the Abell House, a stagecoach stop in Fredonia, New York, as the first commercial establishment to use natural gas for cooking. Back in 1825, the “pipes” were hollowed-out logs. Gas was propelled through the logs into the building, to a single-flame stove with a reflector plate. We’ve come a long way since then. There are different types of gas for different uses. The one most commonly known as natural gas is mostly methane. When it is highly compressed for storage, under incredibly cold conditions (below 260 degrees Fahrenheit), it becomes liquefied natural gas (LNG). When it is manufactured—in a process that mixes methane with hydrogen and carbon monoxide—it is known as synthetic gas. There also are other gas combinations—propane, butane, isobutane—that may be called liquefied petroleum gas, LP gas, or bottled gas. In the United States, restaurants use natural gas to operate as much as two-thirds of their major cooking equipment.