Liberal Celebrity Chef Exempt From Gas Stove Ban, California City Says

May 18, 2023

A California city will make an exception to its natural gas ban for world-famous chef José Andrés, after the landlords for the chef's planned restaurant warned Andrés may pull out over the regulation.

After the owners of the mall where Andrés is set to open the restaurant threatened to sue the city, Palo Alto administrators will allow Andrés's Mediterranean restaurant Zaytinya to use natural gas lines, despite a new law this year that bans them in construction.

The restaurant relies on "traditional cooking methods that require gas appliances to achieve its signature, complex flavors," said Anna Shimko, a lawyer representing the group that owns the shopping center where Andrés leased space for the project.

The lawyer argued the building's plans were approved in 2019, years before the gas ban was imposed. She added that some of the appliances the restaurant staff needs "do not have electrically powered equivalents." Shimko added that if the ban is enforced, "Zaytinya will likely choose not to locate within the city."

The city in a Tuesday statement called the decision a "one-off" exception and a "unique" situation.

"Due to the years-long planning effort which started in 2019, three years before the City adopted the all-electric requirement, the City and the Mall have agreed that this one project should be able to proceed with gas service consistent with the long-established project plans," the city said.

Andrés is a renowned chef who has earned Michelin stars and owns restaurants across the United States. He also frequently promotes liberal causes and has been celebrated by Democratic figures. Former president Barack Obama awarded Andrés a medal in 2016 and called him "the quintessential American success story." Andrés appeared as a guest star on Michelle Obama's food show for kids on Netflix.

Andrés is also a frequent advocate for fighting climate change. He started a $1 billion fund to fight climate disasters and teamed up with politicians to create other climate initiatives.

"Climate change is real! Food sources will drastically disappear," Andrés tweeted last year.

The move by Palo Alto comes after the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a natural gas ban in Berkeley in April. The court said the ban conflicted with federal law.

New York is preparing to ban gas stoves in most new buildings starting in 2026. Eleven Democratic attorneys general urged the federal government last week to regulate gas stoves. "The emissions from gas stoves pose severe health risks, especially for sensitive groups and underserved communities" the letter, led by Washington, D.C., attorney general Brian Schwalb, said.

Published under: California