Chef saves hundreds of gallons of water using air compressor to - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Chef saves hundreds of gallons of water using air compressor to clean dishes

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A Central Coast chef's revelation could lead to a restaurant revolution. Chef John Cox is using compressed air to clean food off dishes and is saving hundreds of gallons of water per day.

The kitchen at the Post Ranch Inn's Sierra Mar restaurant is usually bustling with sounds of chopping, grating and peeling. But since mid-April, it's been creating some serious buzz too.

After Chef John posted videos on Instagram showing his water-saving way to clean off dishes, he's received calls and emails from restaurants across the state interested in using the same technology to save water during California's unprecedented drought.

"It was kind of just a serendipitous discovery," Chef John said.

He bought an air compressor online for $225 originally to clean the kitchen, then "it just kind of clicked one day," he said.

Now dishwashers are forgoing the hand sprayer for the air compressor, blasting food particles off plates before they head to the dishwasher to be sanitized.

Chef John showed KSBY News what the air compressor can do: blow off larger pieces of food such as bread and lemon slices with ease, but it can also remove goopy foods such as polenta.

His "ah-ha" moment is now saving the restaurant 800 gallons of water a day or 300,000 gallons a year, almost 25% of its total water use. The Big Sur chef hopes other restaurants make the switch too.

"I think restaurants across the state could save a substantial amount of water," Chef John said.

If all of California's 60,000 restaurants switched to compressed air to pre-clean plates, they could save more than 10 billion gallons of water per year. That would be enough to fill Lopez Lake back up to capacity.

He says more than a dozen restaurants from San Francisco to San Diego have contacted him, and more from New York City interested in making the switch to improve their aging septic systems. On the Central Coast, the Simpson House Inn in Santa Barbara has inquired.

"We just have no choice as an industry right now," Chef John said. "We have to save water, so I think this is a pretty easy way to do it."

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