Back in Class for Lessons in Clean Energy Holiday Cooking

SCE’s Foodservice Technology Center demonstrates the culinary possibilities of energy-efficient kitchen equipment.
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Stories : Technology
Stories : Technology

Back in Class for Lessons in Clean Energy Holiday Cooking

SCE’s Foodservice Technology Center demonstrates the culinary possibilities of energy-efficient kitchen equipment.
Photo Credit: Gwen Yamasaki

After more than a year of distance learning and video calls, culinary teachers were finally back in the kitchen to cook a holiday feast at ProStart Teacher's Day at Southern California Edison’s Foodservice Technology Center test kitchen.

As SCE continues to champion
Pathway 2045, a roadmap to the electrification of transportation, homes and businesses to meet California’s clean energy goals, Foodservice Technology Center scientist Brian Choi explained the test kitchen’s mission: “Foodservice technology makes up a large portion of the energy usage for homes and businesses. We test commercial kitchen equipment and gather data to qualify it as energy efficient, which allows electricity providers to offer rebates. This encourages food service establishments to use more efficient appliances and electrify where they haven’t before.”

The food tech test kitchen also educates customers and policymakers
about newly available, energy-efficient commercial kitchen equipment. It partners with the California Restaurant Foundation’s ProStart program to host tours and demonstrations for high school students while providing a space for teachers to meet, cook and try out new equipment.

ProStart teachers including Joy Cantrell prepared every dish from scratch using energy-efficient appliances.

“This has been an innovative partnership, to be able to bring all the resources of the SCE Foodservice Technology Center to local high school culinary programs,” ProStart Program Director Natalie Tong said. “It gives our aspiring culinary students the opportunity to get hands-on experience with commercial kitchen equipment, learn about energy efficiency and try out the latest cooking techniques.”

As the test kitchen took on a festive air, the teachers donned masks and aprons and prepared a full holiday spread with turkey, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, yams and green bean casserole.

“It was great to see the other teachers again after so long — we really missed out on that experience last year, as everything went remote,” said ProStart educator Kristin Sepulveda. She was glad for the opportunity to “network with fellow teachers, get updates from the California Restaurant Foundation on next year’s ProStart curriculum and create some good food — it felt like a teacher Friendsgiving!”

With preparations complete, it was time to power up the high-efficiency electric ovens and induction cooktops. Sepulveda praised the combi-oven, saying, “It’s this amazing, high-tech piece of machinery that has all kinds of settings for different dishes to cook things perfectly.”

Chef Brandon Barousse (left) demonstrates the energy-efficient combi-oven to Nick Brandler and Natalie Tong, the California Restaurant Foundation's ProStart program director.

Choi explained the combi-oven’s technical advantages: “It’s an efficient, combination electric convection oven and steamer. By independently controlling timing, heat and humidity, you can make dishes with different cook times and cooking styles at the same time, with high precision.” While the main dishes were cooked in convection ovens, the gravy, mashed potatoes and sauces were made on high-efficiency induction cooktops.

The food tech center’s partnership with ProStart is demonstrating to California chefs that "energy-efficient electric equipment isn't just a clean
alternative to gas — it can also be the preferred method for achieving something in the kitchen,” Choi said. “By educating ProStart teachers about these new advances, we educate the next generation of culinary professionals.”

For more information, please visit the SCE Foodservice Technology Center’s website.