Electric Appliances Help Spice Up Mexican Fare

SCE Foodservice Technology event focuses on helping Mexican chefs and restaurant owners save energy and money cooking with electricity.
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Stories : Technology
Stories : Technology

Electric Appliances Help Spice Up Mexican Fare

SCE Foodservice Technology event focuses on helping Mexican chefs and restaurant owners save energy and money cooking with electricity.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Dan Yeniz Photography

The food at Juan Sanjuan III’s Gloria’s Restaurant & Bar in Huntington Park has been about traditional Mexican cooking since his father started the business 36 years ago.

“For us, it is about the flavor and tradition of Mexico,” Sanjuan said.

But when he and his father decided to start a new endeavor, Gloria’s Pueblito, tradition ran head on into a modern restaurant reality: how to maintain their traditional cooking with limited proteins, space and inventory.

Juan Sanjuan III, owner of Gloria’s Restaurant & Bar, tests out energy-efficient equipment at SCE’s Foodservice Technology Center.
Juan Sanjuan III, owner of Gloria’s Restaurant & Bar, tests out energy-efficient equipment at SCE’s Foodservice Technology Center.

Energy-efficient equipment like electric griddles have allowed Sanjuan and his family to expand and do more with less space. Even so, he admits that the idea of switching from gas to electric appliances was one that didn’t sit well with him at first.

“It is weird to cook without fire, but that’s some pretty amazing equipment,” Sanjuan told a room full of chefs and business owners at a recent Southern California Edison Foodservice Technology seminar. “That’s what we’re hoping to do: change our mentality so that we can come to the new equipment and still keep our tradition, still keep our food and flavors going.”

The “Equipping for Mexican Fare” event at SCE’s Foodservice Technology Center recently in Irwindale was the utility’s first to target the large and growing group of Mexican chefs and restaurant owners to teach them about how to save energy and money with electric kitchen appliances.

SCE’s Foodservice Technology Center recently hosted a “Equipping for Mexican Fare” event in Irwindale.
SCE’s Foodservice Technology Center recently hosted a “Equipping for Mexican Fare” event in Irwindale.

“When you look at our service territory, there are about 30,000 accounts in the food service and mom and pop shops make up about 80% of that,” said Andre Saldivar, the SCE engineer who oversees the center.

He said that these small businesses often are short on resources and unaware of the latest technology that can help them save time and money.

“Our main focus is education,” Saldivar said. “We want to help them be successful.”

Bret Thompson, owner of Pez Cantina in Los Angeles, welcomed the opportunity to learn about energy-efficient electric appliances.

His latest project is called Sopa, a modern soup kitchen that will make its debut in downtown Los Angeles, close to Pez Cantina. Because of the small concept and the close proximity of the two restaurants, he said his team will be able to prep and produce all dishes for both restaurants in one kitchen, saving him space and money.

SCE’s Foodservice Technology Center recently hosted a “Equipping for Mexican Fare” event in Irwindale.
SCE’s Foodservice Technology Center recently hosted a “Equipping for Mexican Fare” event in Irwindale.

“Electrical equipment may really work for us because we don’t want to spend the money for a hood or an exhaust and everything else that goes into working with gas,” Thompson said. “It’ll be easy enough to use a combi oven or smaller pieces of equipment that are not going to put out a bunch of grease and exhaust.”

A traditionalist at heart, Thompson said that during his time as a culinary student in Europe, France and Spain, he never saw any electric equipment. He remembers making the switch and thinking what a change it was.

“Once you get it, it really is so easy and the recovery time is fast,” he said. “It’s amazing how fast these things heat up using electricity.”

SCE’s Foodservice Technology Center was created more than 25 years ago to encourage the use of energy-efficient equipment. SCE offers a variety of programs to help restaurants and other food industry operators try out the new energy-efficient equipment on their foods and menus. The utility also provides rebates to help defray the cost of the new appliances.

Foodservice Technology Center
6050 N. Irwindale Ave., Irwindale, CA 91702
Phone: 626-812-7666
Hours: Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Email: eeciftc@sce.com
Learn more about the Foodservice Technology Center’s free energy audits, programs and classes.