Piedmont Natural Gas celebrated the opening of its newly renovated and expanded John H. Maxheim Natural Gas Technology Center at 4301 Yancey Road in Charlotte, North Carolina, on May 12.

Boasting 4,700 square feet of meeting, demonstration, and work space that accommodates up to 90 people, the Center features two commercial kitchens, large prep and clean-up areas, sophisticated audiovisual and Internet capabilities for streaming video, and an outdoor dining and demonstration area outfitted with the latest natural gas equipment and technology, including an outdoor fireplace, waterfall, natural gas torches, and infrared overhead patio heater. The Center also has made both energy efficiency and environmental sustainability main priorities.

“We are pleased to make this state-of-the-art facility available to those in the foodservice and hospitality industries who are eager to learn more about the advantages of cooking with natural gas,” says Thomas E. Skains, Piedmont Natural Gas chairman, president, and CEO. “Our goal with the John H. Maxheim Natural Gas Technology Center is to provide firsthand educational experiences to manufacturers, equipment dealers, restaurant owners and operators, and chefs that will allow them to make informed equipment and technology decisions.”

The Natural Gas Technology Center serves multiple purposes including:

Equipment Testing and Brand Comparisons
Multiple natural gas and electric connections allow people to test and compare the performance and efficiency for different types of natural gas and electric equipment.

Efficiency Comparisons An integrated Data Acquisition System makes it possible to measure equipment performance, energy usage, efficiency, and food production.

Training, Workshops, and Demonstrations A large and versatile workspace is ideal for demonstrating the latest natural gas foodservice technology and equipment to clients or for training employees on new equipment.

Cooking Techniques and Recipe Development The fully equipped commercial kitchens are perfect for testing new cooking techniques or recipes before introducing them to customers.

Equipment on hand includes a built-in Wood Stone natural gas-fired pizza oven as well as a variety of grills, fryers, combi ovens, convection ovens, flat top griddles, charbroilers, six-burner ranges, steamers, holding cabinets, dishmachines, and more – all from different manufacturers at a range of price points.

The newly created outdoor dining space showcases how beautiful an outdoor dining area can be and incorporates modern natural gas technology, such as overhead infrared patio heaters, to allow patrons to dine outside all year long. Like its indoor kitchen counterparts, the patio is set up for easy-to-view cooking demonstrations and includes state-of-the-art technology to record and stream demonstrations live via the Internet.

Other features of the Natural Gas Technology Center include condensing and high-efficiency natural gas water heaters, tankless instantaneous water heaters, electronically controlled natural gas lighting, two 10-foot sections of kitchen ventilation hoods, and six natural gas and an assortment of electric connections.

“Our main goals are to show foodservice industry professionals what a sustainable restaurant can look like and to help them understand how energy efficient equipment and technology can lower operating costs,” Skains says.

The Center is available by appointment Monday through Friday to qualifying organizations, groups, or individuals and is free of charge for commercial natural gas customers or those considering purchasing natural gas equipment. With advance notice, Piedmont will ensure that specific equipment to test is available and on site.

For more information, call Sandra Minter at 704 731-4014.

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