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I'm a home cook and have never been inside a commercial kitchen - I believe though, in a commercial kitchen, gas stoves are preferable due to having a constant heat in contrast to an induction or halogen hob which 'pulses'.

I live off the gas grid (meaning I have no gas), and I was wondering, other than gas, does any other type of cooking "technology" (that is suitable for an indoor kitchen) offer constant heat or anything that can heat to as high a temperature as gas can?

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    Anecdotal, I see a lot more induction in restaurant kitchen (from youtube video) – Max May 16 '20 at 10:11
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    I'm agreeing with @Max's comment here - are gas stoves preferable? I'm no pro chef, but I have been in a small number of pro kitchens over the years and none of them exclusively use gas. This certainly isn't representative but it does suggest that it's more complicated than 'gas stoves are preferred' – Mithrandir24601 May 16 '20 at 13:11
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    Wok work on an electric range or an induction range is horrendous at best, and some techniques just do not work (鑊氣 wok6 hei3 in Cantonese). Don't know how I feel about the blowtorch hack. – Michaelyus May 16 '20 at 20:51
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    If you are off grid surely gas is your best option for cooking, or do you mean you just live off the gas grid? – GdD May 16 '20 at 20:57
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    @Dave, off the grid typically means you live without access to any municipal supplies, including electricity, water, gas, etc. You live off the gas grid, but you are on the electricity grid, so you aren't 'off the grid' in the typical usage. Anyway, get a good quality induction hob, it's not as good as gas but the next best thing. – GdD May 18 '20 at 8:18
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Commercial burners generally have a high power output. A commercial kitchen doesn't have to be large to have 12 burners, all capable of 3kW, in a small space, plus ovens, and running near constantly. By this point the cost saving of gas over electricity becomes significant (in the UK, electricity is about 3x more per kWh). In addition many premises wouldn't have sufficient electricity supply to support that in addition to all their other consumption, and running a fatter cable is very costly.

Only induction gets the pan up to cooking temperature as fast as gas, and although it's getting cheaper, it's still expensive to install. I've seen induction wok stations used for food that's cooked to order; one advantage is that they need less extraction than gas (but still some).

The pulsing you mention isn't really an issue. The fairly thick aluminium pans used in many commercial kitchens, and the large thermal mass of food being cooked would tend to minimise fluctuations in the temperature of the actual dish

Many of these reasons don't apply at home, but many of us prefer gas anyway for its controllability (at least compared to mostelectric stoves, I've only cooked on induction a few times and fairly simple stuff).

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  • I love this answer. Very thorough, and yet concise and to the point. But: "The fairly thick aluminium pans used in many commercial kitchens," -- there's also the fact that aluminum doesn't work on induction. I wonder if aluminum is preferred, due to the lower weight (reduces injuries/strain), and so the simple fact of incompatibility precludes the use of induction in kitchens where aluminum cookware is the norm. – Peter Duniho May 16 '20 at 20:36
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    @Chris I'm guessing "wok stations" (2nd para) be "work stations"... especially in view of the comment above about how horrendous using a wok on induction is. – TripeHound May 17 '20 at 0:38
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    @TripeHound. No. A dedicated induction cooking station for use with a specific wok. The induction unit is wok-shaped and couldn't be used with anything other than its own woks (the chef has a stack of them ready to use). The comment refers to a general purpose induction stove – Chris H May 17 '20 at 8:11
  • Induction wok station – Booga Roo May 17 '20 at 11:36
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You are asking two questions here:

  1. Do commercial kitchens prefer gas stoves, and why?
  2. Is there another type of cooker that performs similarly to a gas range?

Commercial kitchens

I will first attempt to answer your first question. I will consider the three main types of cooker: gas, electric (including variants like ceramic or halogen hobs) and induction. Most professional kitchens, as far as I know, use gas cookers for the following reasons

Heat output

Both gas ranges and induction ranges tend to have a higher overall output than electric ranges. This means you can get things hotter, and get them hot faster, which in a professional environment is crucial. Think massive batches of soup, or searing steaks.

Responsiveness

Anyone who's ever tried cooking on an electric hob knows that they are painfully slow to heat up, and even slower to cool down. This makes it much more difficult to quickly change cooking temperature without moving the pan off the burner. While some restaurants use massive hotplates (that typically are gas-powered anyway) and manage the heat by moving the pans anyway, a regular hob performs better if the cook can quickly change the heat output.

Versatility

Not all materials can be used on an induction hob. In particular, aluminium or copper cookware does not work well on induction. Thus, if you want to quickly heat up an aluminium roasting tray to deglaze it, you're out of luck if you have an induction cooker. I believe it is possible to buy plates made from ferrous metal (that will heat on induction) and put those between the hob and your aluminium cookware, but that requires more gear and more hassle.

Cleaning

Because of the glass covers and lack of an open flame, induction and electric cookers can be easier to clean than a gas hob. Additionally, they do not produce any soot, so will potentially keep the rest of the kitchen (including cookware and extraction hood) a little cleaner. In a commercial kitchen with rigorous cleaning procedures, this may or may not be a consideration.

Sturdiness and repairability

Induction hobs and a lot of electric hobs are covered with glass plates. While this glass is tough, it is not as tough as the metal used for gas hobs. The construction of induction- and electric hobs is also more complex than that of gas ranges, making it more difficult and more expensive to repair them when they do get damaged.

Cost

Really out of my depth here, but because of the aforementioned differences in construction complexity, I can imagine induction burners being more expensive than gas hobs. They will definitely be more expensive to repair. Depending on your location, electricity may be cheaper than gas, though, so there could be an argument for a non-gas hob based on running cost.

Industry standard

If most cooking schools and restaurants use gas hobs, most cooks will be used to gas hobs. Also, there will be a much stronger market for purchase (new or used), spare parts and repairs. It just makes sense to pick the option everybody's familiar with.

Gas range alternative for home use

Chris H's answer covers this well. If you want top performance, gas or induction are the way to go. Chris also explains why the on-off-switching of induction and electric cookers tends not to be an issue, unless you are dealing with very thin/light cookware, which will probably not be well-suited for induction cooking anyway.

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    I'm not even really an amateur cook, but: Isn't there also an archaic, direct, visceral information when you see a flame? "Oh my god, I'm burning it", "this will never heat it up quickly enough", "this looks about right", "wait, it's not even on!" etc. You don't have to correlate a knob position with a burner position (unless you want to change it), you don't have to wonder whether 3 is better than 4, you can't turn down the wrong flame and not notice at all for a minute or two. – Peter - Reinstate Monica May 17 '20 at 7:27
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    Having visual feedback that your burner is on is definitely useful/helpful. The old fashioned electric spiral burners do not always have this. When I was a kid I burned my hand very badly by putting it on a burner that had recently been used but looked the same as a cold one. – Uncle Long Hair May 18 '20 at 14:15
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The biggest difference for me between electric and gas is that with gas you generally have better incremental control over the heat, and the burner responds immediately when you adjust the temp. How this works with an electric burner varies very widely by the type, quality, and manufacturer. For example the old fashioned spiral electric burners generally take a while to heat up or cool down. I find these incredibly frustrating to cook with because the heat seems to always be too hot or too cold and by the time I adjust it I'm often done cooking.

However there are other electric technologies, glass-top, infrared, induction, etc. Some like induction require special pans but not all do.

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