Michael’s at the Citadel Restaurant
Natural Gas Provides Ambience, Precise Temperature Control at Arizona Restaurant
• Natural gas conveyor ovens.
• Consistent product results.
• Reduced labor costsy.
• Approximately 400 store locations in the United States.
As owner and chef of Michael’s at the Citadel, a 300-seat restaurant set in the scenic Sonoran Desert of North Scottsdale, Arizona, DeMaria values the precise temperature control that natural gas offers for preparing his noted contemporary American cuisine with Italian influences.
Gas provides controlled cooking
“Gas cooking provides a fluctuation in heat that you can see and control,” says DeMaria. “Depending upon the equipment you use, the higher the heat, and the hotter you cook, the more food you can prepare in a shorter time.”
DeMaria, a member of the 1992 gold medal-winning U.S. Culinary Olympic Team, utilizes numerous natural gas commercial cooking appliances, including special deck ovens for his fine pastries, in his Arizona restaurant.
“His kitchen has close to 30 open burners,” says Jim Fuller, Supervisor of Market Development in Central Arizona for Southwest Gas Corporation, the local natural gas utility.
“Michael is very particular about his cooking technique – he can’t cook the way he does with electric,” says Fuller.
Gas fireplaces lend ambiance
In addition to making highly-controlled cooking possible, natural gas provides clean-burning, smoke-free flames in the nine fireplaces that lend a warm and welcoming ambience to Chef Michael’s sprawling complex of elegant, private and semi-private dining rooms and patios. The restaurant encompasses 10,000 sq. ft. of indoor space.
Gas fireplaces just burn better and eliminate the fuss and mess of dealing with firewood and keeping it dry before use, DeMaria explains.
“It’s easier to start, easier to turn off, and there’s no lingering fire in the fireplace. Plus, it gives a great look to the restaurant.” Gas-fired patio heaters and a large gas fire pit make it possible for restaurant guests to dine and lounge outdoors even when the air becomes chilly.
“On a cool winter day, when it’s 45°F-50°F degrees, people want just a little bit of heat to take the nip out of the air,” explains Fuller. “This way, Michael is able to use the patios as additional revenue streams.”
Gas-heated patrios attract diners
The heated patios attract sunset-watchers who come to dine and enjoy the views from the outdoor second-story lounge seating areas.
“People come early and sip refreshments on the outdoor patio while enjoying the magnificent Arizona sunsets,” Fuller says. “They watch the various mountains change colors. It’s spectacular. Michael’s can’t provide that same dining experience or atmosphere for his guests with electric heat, electric fireplaces, or electric cooking appliances. You can only accomplish that with natural gas. He wants his guests to feel warm and welcome.”
Because the gas fire pit and fireplaces do not burn wood, they don’t release particulates into the atmosphere. This is a significant issue in the Scottsdale and Phoenix area where operating a wood-burning fireplace is prohibited on high-ozone days.
Natural gas also provides space heating and an abundant supply of hot water necessary for such a large restaurant. A booster hot water heater for dishwashing eliminates the use of chemical wash, saves water and sewer costs, and provides an endless supply of 180°F hot water for sterilizing dishes and flatware.
Southwest Gas is a sponsor of the restaurant’s unique and very popular cooking studio. Glass-enclosed, the cooking studio seats 18 people at a semi-circular counter where the guests can observe DeMaria demonstrating his world-renowned cooking expertise and showcasing his state-of-the-art natural gas cooking equipment.
“Our guests and I get to have one-on-one conversations about cooking equipment, types of food, food preparation, and fine wines,” DeMaria explains.
Michael’s offers private cooking classes in his cooking studio and has the capability to videotape lessons. Guest chefs are sometimes invited to display their skills.
DeMaria is pleased to have willing sponsors like Southwest Gas and Wolf Appliance Company, LLC., for his cooking studio. Southwest Gas promotes Michael and his cooking studio to inform and educate guests on the many advantages of commercial natural gas cooking.
“Southwest Gas is a sponsor of Michael’s cooking studio because we recognized a wonderful marketing opportunity in partnering with one of the premier chefs in the Southwest,” says Fuller. Wolf Appliance also sponsors the cooking studio because it is an ideal situation to showcase the high-quality professional natural gas cooktops and ovens they manufacture.
Michael’s at the Citadel is the quintessential dining-out destination – a place to watch the sunset from the outdoor lounge while enjoying the warmth of the outdoor fireplace, then dine in the chef’s private dining room next to the kitchen, or indulge in the ultimate dining experience of learning while enjoying great food and wine in the cooking studio. Without the many natural gas appliances and amenities, Michael’s would be just another fine restaurant, not the outstanding experience it continues to be.