What’s Cookin in your kitchen? Q & A with Chef Jon Liddell of GE Mongram

Chef Jon Liddell, Executive Chef at the GE Monogram Design Center in Chicago.

Chef Jon Liddell, Executive Chef at the GE Monogram Design Center in Chicago at the Merchandise Mart

Chef Jon Liddell is next up on our series What’s Cookin’ In Your Kitchen? Chef Jon Liddell is the Executive Chef at the GE Monogram Design Center in Chicago at Luxe Home in the Merchandise Mart. Jon manages the live kitchens, leads product demonstrations, and provides all the catering for the many events held in the showroom. I caught up with Jon at a recent industry event. While going through his demonstration, Chef Jon shared some great things about his induction cooktop. Let’s hear what Chef Jon has to say about this amazing piece of kitchen technology.

Q – Jon, when I saw you at a recent Luxe Home event you were marveling about the induction cooktop in the Monogram kitchen. I’d like to learn a bit more about your experiences with induction.

Q – How does induction work?
A – An induction burner consists of a ceramic plate with an electromagnetic coil beneath it. When you turn on the burner, an electric current runs through the coil, which generates a magnetic field, yet no heat on the burner itself. However, when you set an iron or stainless steel pan on the burner – the magnetic field is activated. On an induction cooktop, the heat is coming not from the burner, but the pan itself. This becomes a much more efficient way of cooking because a pot of water will come to a boil on an induction stove in almost half the time of a standard gas stove. Also, once you remove the pan, an induction cooktop cools off faster than a conventional burner; because it was only hot from contact with the pan and the burner itself is only hot from the reflective heat of the pan.

Q – How do you clean it?
A – I use a multi-purpose cleaner for everyday messes and an Air Duster can for anything underneath the lip or around the cooktop. If I’m deep frying or have something really stick on the burner, I rub Cerama Bryte on the problem area and it comes right out. I’ve never had any issues with keeping our induction top clean which is why it’s so easy to fall in love with.

Q – Do you need special pots?
A – I wouldn’t say “special” since they are everywhere now, but as long as your cookware contains a ferrous metal, it will work on induction. The easiest way to explain to people is to ask them to stick a magnet to the sole of whatever pan they want to use, if it sticks, you’re good to go!

Q – If you’ve used gas your whole life, would it be an easy transition to induction?
A – Yes, learning to cook on induction is very easy. The one thing you have to overcome is the speed at which the pan preheats and liquids boil. There’s no time in induction cooking to dice an onion while the pan preheats! You will move through steps on a recipe at a much faster pace so you and the necessary ingredients must be ready.

Q – Is all induction the same brand for brand? What would make one better than another?
A – The idea seems to be the same, but there are definitely some differences between brands. A lot of brands only offer two zones of “high-boiling heat”, whereas, Monogram offers three. This seems minimal until you’re trying to boil a large pot of water while searing meat and sautéing vegetables all at the same time. I’m also a big fan of Sous Vide and Monogram’s Induction is the only cooktop that uses Bluetooth technology to precisely control the temperature I need. The attachment we use can fit any size pan, which is beneficial to me since I cook anywhere for two to twelve people in a day. Instead of limiting my cooking style, it enhances it- because I know it will always give me the results I’m looking for.

Q – The speed of cooking time is big advantage of induction, seems like it would be a great tool in restaurant kitchens. Are they commonplace in commercial kitchens?
A – Induction is commonly used in commercial kitchens at many different levels from food courts to Michelin star restaurants. Due to its speed and precision induction is a huge asset to any professional chef.

Q – If you were to design your own dream kitchen, what features would be the most important?
A – I have always dreamed of having all the tricks of my trade in my home kitchen. Every type of appliance I might need, but at the end of the day it would have to feel and look like home and not work. I think the most important feature would be that balance between professional and polished.

Q – What’s your favorite dish to make at home?
A – Well, this morning I started bringing beef brisket to season and smoke into fresh pastrami. So I guess my pastrami with rye bread, Swiss, and spicy mustard is my favorite right now!

Q – Now the desert island question, if stranded with a kitchen and only three kitchen tools from your kitchen what you would bring?
A – Chef’s knife, sharpening stone, and a blender! “Pina Coladas.”

Q-You have some exposure in your position at Monogram to residential kitchen design, what impresses you about kitchen design today?
A – What impresses me most is how tailored the home kitchen has become. Not just on a visual level either but the actual flow and usage of the kitchen space. With Monogram appliances like induction, remote enameled ovens, sous vide, and pizza ovens I think you will see residential kitchens go a step further and they will be an even greater reflection of the owner.

Q- What’s your favorite restaurant in town? Or top few if you can’t choose only one.
A –
Mr. Beef – Best Italian Beef or Combo
Spacca Napoli – Best Neapolitan style Pizza “NO, not deep dish.”
Boka – Just great casual fine dining!