Putting Energy-Efficient Pizzazz Into Making Pizza

by Mary Ann Milbourn
Feb 5, 2019 8:00 AM ET

Noel Brohner directed his two assistant chefs like a maestro leading an orchestra — Ines Barlerin was at one station slicing olives for her Neapolitan-style thin-crust pizzas while Chester Hastings used his fingers to stretch bubbly focaccia dough into rectangular or round pans.

Pizza, however, wasn’t the centerpiece of their efforts. It was the chance to showcase the new electric Pizzamaster ovens at the recent grand reopening of Southern California Edison’s Foodservice Technology Center in Irwindale.

SCE has been educating business customers on energy-efficient equipment for 25 years. The Foodservice Technology Center was set up to test the energy efficiency of commercial electric kitchen appliances ranging from the pizza ovens to fryers, induction cooktops and soft-serve yogurt machines.

Center staff also conduct seminars and allow chefs, caterers and other food industry professionals to come in and use the energy-efficient electric appliances before buying them. The classes and appliance tryouts are free.

Brohner, a Los Angeles-based pizza consultant and owner of Slow Rise Pizza Co., was demonstrating how the Pizzamaster ovens can save restaurant owners energy, time and money.

Pizza restaurants keep their traditional gas ovens on all the time because it takes up to 3½ hours to get them to the right temperature if they are turned off. The electric pizza ovens are ready to bake in 45 minutes. Restaurant owners are also eligible for a $1,250 rebate for every Pizzamaster deck they buy.

The new electric pizza oven also can provide much higher heat — up to 900 degrees — with the versatility of multiple decks that can be set at different temperatures for various kinds of pizza or bread.

For the Foodservice Technology Center demonstration, Brohner baked Neapolitan-style pizzas on one deck at 700 to 750 degrees, while on the other deck he cooked New York-style pizza at 600 degrees. In the other oven, he baked two kinds of focaccia at 400 to 500 degrees.

“I’m a fan of gas ovens,” Brohner said, “But I LOVE these electric ovens.”

SCE acquired the electric ovens after a new 480-volt electrical system was installed that allows SCE engineers to test the energy efficiency of industrial-sized appliances that hospitals, hotels, grocers’ takeout food sections — and pizza restaurants — use. Previously, no lab in the country had the ability to test kitchen equipment that required 480V capacity.

The remodeled center also has doubled in size to allow classes of up to 60 students. New energy-efficient light-emitting diode lighting with controls was added along with upgraded heating and air conditioning that allow the lab to maintain the consistent air temperature required for testing.

SCE’s Foodservice Technology Center represents all the aspects of what we are trying to do as a company,” said Mike Marelli, vice present of SCE’s Business Customer Division. “It provides testing. It provides exposure for users to see how the equipment works and an opportunity to educate the industry about energy efficiency and other benefits of using electricity.”

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.