We are a dedicated team of engineers, technicians, culinary arts experts, educators, and energy specialists. We use our expertise to encourage the commercial foodservice industry to become more sustainable in their purchasing decisions and operations.
As Frontier Energy's Foodservice Division, we believe in a diverse energy future invested in conservation, efficiency, and new technology. Our rigorous, unbiased lab and field research is the foundation of everything we do, from our educational events to our program work. As the most highly regarded commercial foodservice testing lab in the United States, we are the leading source of energy efficiency information for the foodservice industry.
What began as a small energy monitoring project in the back of a cafeteria kitchen has evolved into a fully-equipped Center for commercial foodservice energy research and education. The FSTC is owned and operated by Frontier Energy, Inc., a professional energy consulting firm providing exceptional services, programs, and tools that encourage the intelligent use of energy.
Betty Ferlin spearheads a small project at the Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) Company cafeteria kitchen to measure the energy consumption of commercial cooking appliances. The goal of the project is to provide PG&E's foodservice customers with information that will help them evaluate technically innovative cooking appliances and make informed equipment purchases.
Don Fisher & Judy Nickel, as Fisher-Nickel, Inc., sign on as the project's principals. The Production Test Kitchen becomes a reality as a new concept in commercial cooking appliance testing. It's a showplace for state-of-the-art commercial cooking appliances, a center for communicating information about new technologies, and stimulates continued research and development of innovative new appliances.
The success of the Production Test Kitchen project leads to the build-out of a facility committed to foodservice equipment energy research, The Food Service Technology Center (FSTC) in San Ramon, California. Helmed by the Fisher-Nickel team, the FSTC starts developing ASTM standard test methods for commercial foodservice equipment starting with fryers and griddles.
The FSTC launches the online resource fishnick.com, continues to benchmark the energy performance of commercial appliances, and provides technical support for fledgling utility rebate programs. The FSTC begins testing and promoting emerging, energy-saving technologies in foodservice, such as combination convection/steamer ovens.
The Food Service Technology Center celebrates 25 years of energy efficiency in commercial foodservice with a 3-day symposium attended by over 150 of the country's top foodservice industry professionals. The event focuses on the advancements in energy efficiency since the inception of the FSTC, and where foodservice energy and water efficiency is headed in the future.
Frontier Energy acquires Fisher-Nickel, inc.
The FSTC transitions to a Frontier Energy facility as the relationship with PG&E evolves. As the foodservice division of Frontier Energy, the FSTC continues its mission of promoting the efficient use of energy and water in the foodservice industry.
Vice President, Frontier Energy
David oversees the day-to-day operations at the Frontier Energy FSTC. Over his twenty-plus year tenure, David has been instrumental in overseeing the development and maintenance of over 40 test methods for American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) ratification. He also manages the Center's appliance testing and evaluation program. David is the past Chairman of the ASTM F26 Committee on Food Service Equipment and the acting chairman for the F26.06 Subcommittee on Productivity and Energy Protocols.
Director of Outreach
Richard is the Director of Outreach at the Frontier Energy FSTC. Trained as an electrical engineer, Richard started his career in alternative energy, changing from energy-generation to energy-efficiency when he joined the FSTC research team over 34 years ago. He is a contributor to the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED rating system and the EPA’s ENERGY STAR® program. He currently focuses most of his efforts on translating Frontier Energy's 35 years of foodservice research into practical information. He has created and delivered over 1,000 presentations and classes on energy efficiency and authored numerous research reports and articles in magazines, newsletters, and web publications. Richard is also the creator and author of the online Foodservice Energy Efficiency Expert (Fe3) training and certification program.
Senior Program Manager
Todd Bell is a Senior Program Manager with Frontier Energy’s FSTC and is responsible for Frontier Energy’s energy audit/site survey services, which examine the cooking equipment, HVAC, lighting, refrigeration, water heating and sanitation systems in commercial foodservice operations to identify utility saving opportunities. Essentially the “man in the trenches”, Todd visits commercial foodservice sites ranging in size from relatively modest full-service restaurants to very large production kitchens found in hotels and corporate campus dining facilities. Further duties include speaking engagements at a myriad of energy efficiency and sustainability workshops and seminars designed to help commercial foodservice operators reduce energy use and operating costs. Todd is a primary resource at the FSTC for restaurateurs and architects building new restaurants and commercial foodservice facilities.
Chef Consultant / Senior Program Advisor
Chef Mark Duesler oversees the FSTC’s "Try Before You Buy" program, serves as a Senior Program Advisor, and offers an operator’s perspective on energy and water efficiency in commercial foodservice. After more than 26 years in foodservice and 20 years in the kitchen, Chef Mark is eager to share his knowledge and expertise with the industry. He has worked in various full-service restaurants including small family-owned operations, multi-course fine-dining, and chef-driven farm-to-table concepts. Mark draws on this experience to identify each dining concept's unique equipment needs. Additionally, Chef Mark works with the FSTC's engineering team and participates in ASTM subcommittees related to commercial foodservice appliance testing to better understand how equipment performance evaluations translate to real-world applications. Sharing this knowledge allows operators and designers to make more informed decisions on equipment selection and process improvement in their establishments.
Michael Slater is a research engineer at Frontier Energy’s FSTC. He is currently focused on the energy and water economics and savings opportunities of large service water heating and chilling applications as well as ground- and air-sourced heat pumps. Michael has extensive background in many lab and field settings with an emphasis on electricity, gas, and water sub-metering technical studies. Michael has been instrumental in commercial-scale monitoring projects funded by the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of Energy, the California Energy Commission, and the California utilities. He has served as the principal investigator on field retrofit studies using water and energy-saving technologies for Valley Water and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. Michael has also led field monitoring projects for pumped rinse and exhaust heat recovery dishmachines, commercial cooking equipment, and wall furnaces for various utilities and government agencies.
As an extension of our mission, the FSTC and Frontier Energy are committed to minimizing the environmental footprint of our operations with regard to solid waste, energy and water consumption, and pollution. We do this by harnessing the collective enthusaism, intelligence, and mindfulness of our team members. We do it because we value human and environmental health, and we recognize that such values are not mutually exclusive with good business practices.
As a certified California Green Business, we are leading by example when it comes to energy, water, and waste reduction.