Culinary Chemistry

December 05, 2013

Restaurant uses RO to achieve ideal food & beverage flavor

kinetico_commercial water treatment_ro filtration
Crop Bistro’s water treatment system includes three stages of filtration.

You decide to make your favorite soup using the finest, freshest ingredients. Without a second thought, you use tap water — and unknowingly could be adding unwanted minerals, tastes, aromas and chemicals.

So does the water you use really make a difference? According to Northeast Ohio chef and restaurant owner Steve Schimoler, the answer is yes.

Schimoler discovered the value of purified water when he moved his restaurant, Crop Bistro & Bar, to a dramatic historical building in Cleveland’s Ohio City area, a neighborhood where aging pipe is prevalent.

“I never gave much thought to the water I used until I was connected with Kinetico and had the opportunity to research the role that water plays in my kitchen and restaurant,” Schimoler said. “I quickly realized the water that was purified using reverse osmosis (RO) technology provided me with a clean canvas, which allowed the flavors and ingredients I used to shine.”

The RO process significantly reduced unwanted minerals, aromas and chemicals in the restaurant’s water.

“Water has become one of my most valuable ingredients,” said Schimoler, who has been recognized nationally as a pioneer in blending culinary art and food science, and has developed hundreds of products for some of the nation’s top consumer food, beverage and equipment companies.

He has come to realize that when he is reducing a stock to prepare a soup or sauce made with unpurified water, many of the impurities in the water become concentrated and compete with other ingredients. “When cooking with purified water, those impurities are no longer there to compete with the subtle flavors of ingredients such as rosemary, ginger and lemongrass,” he said.

According to Schimoler, we are a society that increasingly values wholesome, chemical-free, organic, flavorful ingredients, but the benefits of purified water as an ingredient have not been on our radar.

“It sounds so simple, but as a chef I go out of my way to procure the finest ingredients for my dishes,” he said. “So why wouldn’t I want the finest water? It’s the foundation of so many recipes. It can represent the majority of a recipe, and its quality can affect the outcome of a dish.”

Beyond the kitchen, Crop Bistro also offers purified Kinetico water in signature bottles on each table for guests. “Our customers comment on how great the water is,” Schimoler said. “And by bottling the water, it demonstrates that we take extra steps to show we care about the water we serve.”

The water running through the soda and ice dispensers also has been purified. Many beverages at Crop Bistro are made using purified water so that they are crystal clear and free of competing flavors.

The Treatment Process

The Kinetico brand water system Schimoler uses at his restaurant employs three phases of filtration featuring RO technology. During this process, water passes through a semi-permeable membrane to filter out inorganic contaminants such as metals and nitrates, leaving these impurities to be discarded. The system also uses prefiltration, which eliminates larger particles and chlorine, as well as post-filtration designed to eliminate any unpleasant tastes or smells that might remain.

Taste is not the only improvement Schimoler has seen in his business. The use of the water treatment system, which also includes a softener, has resulted in increased energy efficiency and improved performance in appliances that use water, from the dishwashing machine, which uses 30% less detergent and leaves glassware sparkling clean, to less deposit buildup in the icemaker, steam-generated ovens and steamers.

“I’ve been so impressed with the results that I want to help raise awareness about how a Kinetico water system can make a difference not only in cooking, but also in the effectiveness of appliances,” Schimoler said. He is so devoted to using RO water that he recently had a system installed in his home.

“I plan to take some time in the future to reach out to the public at food shows and other public venues to share my experiences,” Schimoler said. “Going forward, my blogs and videos on www.kinetico.com will provide consumers with information about trends, recipes and how to make the most of cooking with water.”

Jennifer Reece is public relations specialist for Yopko Penhallurick. Reece can be reached at jr@yp-pr.com or 440.543.8615.

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