Category Archives: Blog
It’s time to talk about oven cleaning products. In particular, chemical cleaners for Rational ovens. Here at AC Services Southern, we supply a range of cleaning solutions for Rational ovens from Detergent and Cleaning tablets to Care and Rinse tablets, Grill Cleaner liquid and Rinse Aid liquid.
Rational Ovens are consistently and constantly upgrading its products and the newer CombiMaster® Plus units are no exception. The CombiMaster® Plus is a tailor-made solution for anyone who is looking for a classic combi-steamer and wishes to operate it manually, delivering exceptional food quality, helping to optimise raw materials usage and lowering resource consumption.
The company has now incorporated an automatic cleaning facility into this model, which allows it to make itself hygienically clean, even overnight if required. It also now uses rinse tabs. It couldn’t be simpler: choose the necessary cleaning stage and insert the tabs displayed.
These newly integrated features make it more important than ever to ensure that Rational oven owners get the right cleaning products to maximise the performance of their appliances.
We are unashamed when we urge our customers to buy the correct product as we know that only with long term care will your oven provide lifetime performance. That care includes using genuine Rational cleaning products at all times.
Every cleaning process cares and retains the value of your oven when you use the correct product. Depending on your oven type you will need different cleaning products. Remember that you may have several types of ovens in your kitchen, each needing its own cleaning product combination.
AND there’s an added bonus this month. Because we’re offering FREE carriage for cleaning products from now until the end of May.
This time of year is notoriously quiet. While there are no big seasonal events, no big tournaments until the summer and with the weather not exactly being conducive to days out, many establishments are seeing a lull in activity. Take the opportunity to restock your cleaning requirements and take advantage of the free carriage by using the coupon code ‘ free ‘.
We supply Rational oven cleaning products which are specially formulated for maximum cleaning power and optimum care and suitable for all Selfcooking Center® units (SCC) and the CombiMaster Plus®:
- Rational Oven Cleaner Tabs. These are highly concentrated tablets specially developed. They have a new complex set of active ingredients designed to guarantee maximum cleaning power.
- The Rational Oven Care Tabs. These have special scale-dissolving ingredients to prevent limescale building up. This gives reliability without a water softener and the need for time-consuming descaling.
- Rational Rinse Tablets provide highly effective care with active protection.
- The Rational Grill Cleaner is for use with a hand-held spray gun.
- Rational Rinse Aid is also specifically designed
To order your Rational oven cleaning products, simply go to online sales, select the cleaning products you need. Then all you need is to enter free as the voucher code to get free carriage.
Or call us on 01454 322222 for more advice of how to keep on top of your Rational oven cleaning.
There is really only one subject dominating the news at the moment and that is the issue of free school meals. School lunches have been offered for decades. Those in primary education in the 1960s and 1970s will probably still recall the trays of overboiled cabbage and swede, and solid pastry mince beef pies.
The great British school lunch menu has come a long way since then, with a choice of much healthier and more nutritious meals. The last week or so however, has seen a storm brewing over the axing of free school lunches due to Government budget pressures.
The Education Department has revealed that it does not think that “a free school lunch for every child in the first three years of primary school… is a sensible use of public money”.
Free school lunches came into effect in September 2014 and at the time, the introduction caused a great deal of consternation within schools as 2,700 primary schools had to install new catering facilities before they could even think about offering free meals.
However, the majority rose to the challenge and adapted their kitchens for the provision required. And the policy has shown results, with many schools reporting an increase in the uptake of cooked school lunches, not only by those entitled to free lunches.
Entitlement to Free Meals
With the old scheme, all children in reception, Years 1 and 2 automatically qualified for free school meals in England and Scotland. In Year 3, free meal eligibility is linked to benefits.
Now, parents earning up to £7,400 a year are entitled to a free school meal. The average cost of a lunch is £2.30, which equals £46 per month per child. Multiply that by two or three or four children at school and the cost rises to £92, £138 and £184 per month respectively.
Perhaps it is understandable why the National Union of Teachers general secretary Kevin Courtney said cancelling the universal offer of a hot meal in the day “mean-spirited and wrong-headed”.
Valentine Mulholland, head of policy at the National Association of Head Teachers, said: “after the nightmare of bringing this policy in at breakneck speed and all the capital funding spent to upgrade kitchens and dining facilities, it’s pretty sad to see this U-turn.”
A Department for Education spokesman said: “we continue to support the country’s most disadvantaged children through free school meals, the £2.5bn funding given to schools through the Pupil Premium to support their education and the recently announced £26m investment to kick-start or improve breakfast clubs in at least 1,700 schools.”
Best Meal of the Day
The only alternative on the table so far is free breakfasts, which are vastly cheaper at a 10th of the price, and if this is the case, then the catering staff may have to change the menus so that children get maximum nutritional value from the first meal of the day.
A sugar tax on fizzy drinks has just been announced and it is believed that the revenue from that (expected to be £200m+) could be reinvested in breakfasts. The days of the full English breakfast may be returning, with the most nutritional meals being served up to provide energy for the rest of the day.
Producers across the country are embracing local and organic ingredients and eco-friendly manufacturing methods, and Gloucestershire food producers are no different. Snuggled in the heart of England, Gloucestershire boasts a food heritage that goes back centuries.
Simon Weaver’s Cotswold Organic Dairy produces some amazingly creamy and award-winning cheeses. The company farms organically in the Cotswolds at Kirkham Farm where Fresian cows feed on organically grown grass. The milk travels a mere five metres to the creamery every morning where expert cheesemakers turn it into a delicious range of artisan products.
Choose from Organic Cotswold Brie, Blue-Veined Brie or Herb Brie. Importantly, the farm encourages and promotes wildlife with no artificial fertilisers or chemicals used to grow crops, and the creamery itself is powered using renewable energy sources.
Jess’s Ladies produces milk, cream and yoghurt and is run by the Vaughan family who milk 80 cows on a farm. The cows (the Ladies) produce un-homogenised, pasteurised milk on site. This is taken straight to local shelves to ensure the best possible flavour. Each lady is known by name and milked personally. As the milk is not homogenised, the milk retains its natural composition. The most recent addition to the menu is luxurious natural yoghurt, made by hand.
The Cotswold Farmer has been part of the local food community since the 1970s, priding itself on environmental responsibility. The company has sustained a well-deserved reputation for its sausages, using a mixture of ingredients and recipes. Toulouse Style pork sausages, Italian Style, Spicy Spanish Style, Cotswold Herb Garden Style are all on the menu. Their ingredients include red wine, garlic, toasted fennel seeds and traditional Italian and Spanish herbs and spices.
Also on offer are Cotswold Gluten Free pork sausages and as alternatives to pork, venison sausages and St Georges beef sausages. The pigs are bred and reared on the family farm in the North Cotswolds.
Acres of Orchards
Another of Gloucestershire food producers is Day’s Cottage. It has over 20 acres of orchards to help the company produce award-winning apple juice for more than 20 years. Pure apple juice, cider and perry are all manufactured using traditional methods and apples from traditional, mature orchards in Gloucestershire.
No additives or preservatives are used in manufacture. The juice of over 1kg of fresh fruit fills each 75cl bottle. The orchards are all free from sprays, chemicals or artificial fertilisers. The ciders and perry are fermented and matured in oak barrels. Only old varieties are used, such as Morgan Sweet and Foxwhelp apples and Brown Bess and Blakeney Red pears.
Ethical Addictions based in Kingsholm, Gloucester, is a small family company that sources high quality coffee buying direct from the growers. The coffee comes from villages in Brazil and Tanzania. Products include the Grizzly Bear Ethical Coffee Blend and shade grown coffee.
Finally if you’re after raw coconut oil why not try out Bula Batiki which works with Fijian islanders directly to ensure their communities benefit.
Proving once again that there are some unusual as well as mainstream food producers in the counties served by AC Services (Southern).
Food has been in the regional and national press this week. Just in time for our new monthly food news round-up. With Easter looming, some unusual chocolate constructions have been unveiled. These include the mighty Creme Egg Yorkshire pudding which has been created by a Cardiff pub.
The Cedar Tree Farm has ingeniously combined sponge cakes with Crème Eggs, white and orange fondant inside a giant Yorkshire pudding. Claimed to be the first of its kind in the UK, the dessert is the latest Easter treat being served up in Wales, after The Cottage Coffee Shop & Lunch Bar launched cheesecake-filled Easter eggs.
Staying in Wales, it was announced this week that pies made by prisoners have been crowned champion at the renowned British Pie Awards. The Custodial Pie Corporation is a joint scheme between HMP Berwyn in Wrexham and Dylan’s restaurant company.
The hard work of the restaurant and a group of prisoners plus catering staff and three senior chefs from Dylan’s made the perfect pie and pasty recipe, using Welsh produce.
Nutrient Content of Food
Of course, this is not the only food news. KFC’s chicken crisis continues and a new debate has sparked up over the sugar content in fruit and vegetables. According to a recent analysis, different types of fruit and veg can contain up to twice as many nutrients. While others have significantly lower levels of sugars and calories. Here’s a summary of some facts:
- Purple cabbage is better than green with ten times more Vitamin A and twice the amount of iron. It also has 36 antioxidants that have been shown to ward off cancer and even improve memory.
- Canned sweetcorn contains 44% more beta carotene than fresh. The canning processes breaks down corn’s tough cell walls, making it easier for the body to access this important nutrient.
- Red dates contain about 60% fewer calories, 10% more fibre and half the sugar content than regular dates.
- Red and black grapes as opposed to green grapes contain resveratrol, catechins and proanthocyanidins. These are all linked to the prevention of various cancers including breast, colon and lung.
- A Granny Smith apple has around 6g less sugar than a Gala.
Long Lasting Ice Cream
And it’s good news for ice cream. Researchers are claiming this week that banana plant extract could be key to creamier, longer lasting ice cream. “Adding tiny cellulose fibres extracted from banana plant waste to ice cream could slow melting, increase shelf life and potentially replace fats used to make the tasty treat,” say the scientists involved.
Insects and Yeast
A paper released last week explains how our understanding of insect-yeast ecology could inform the search for new yeasts. It looks specifically at insects that feed on sugars, such as beetles, wasps, bees and fruit flies.
The scientists are particularly interested in those yeasts that can produce fruity and floral aromas, which can add a new dimension to the food industry.
AC Services News
And finally at AC Services this March, we closed two days because of the Beast from the East part one. Fortunately the Beast from the East part two hit on the weekend and didn’t affect work, only a social activity that Helen had organised for our Service Engineers . But the Go Karting will be re-arranged for a warmer month.
Weather forecasters are now forecasting Beast from the East part three, but it’s looking like more northerly parts of the UK will be affected. Even if it does snow and we can’t get to you, we are always on the end of the phone on 01454 322 222 to help you with your Rational oven needs. Or to hear what you think about our monthly food news round-up.
Will it be Brexit, the Beast from the East, nerve gas poisoning, or Donald Trump?
No, what we are currently facing is a global shortage of currants, raisins and sultanas. This dried fruit crisis is not short term.
The dried fruit crisis is raising concern around the world and especially in the UK. All are concerned about the ready availability of this foodstuff in the future.
Britain is the world’s biggest importer of dried fruit. Since September last year, the price of raisins and sultanas has seen an exponential rise of up to 42%. Consider what the impact could be on hot cross buns and Christmas puddings.
One a Penny…?
There are a number of factors that have contributed to this price increase. Falling numbers of raisins in California and the reduction by Greek farmers in producing currants are the main culprits.
According to the BBC, California produces most of the raisins destined for the UK. But farmers in the region have decided that there are more lucrative crops than dried fruit. The forecast is for 275,000 tonnes of raisins to be produced in 2017-18 in California. This is an 8% reduction from the previous year and 15% below the five-year average. Also, land and labour costs have risen in the USA.
Turkey and Greece have become the go-to places. But Greece’s declining production is now forcing buyers to seek out other markets, notably Australia and South Africa.
Unfortunately, Australia’s harvesting of the sultana crop seems to be running slow due to an unprecedented heatwave. The good news is that Turkey is still producing large amounts of dried fruit.
The industry itself is reassuring worried fans of hot cross buns that a shortage is highly unlikely. But some cannot rule out traditional Christmas baking being affected unless a viable solution is found. Gordon Polson, director of the Federation of Bakers, said anybody who is making hot cross buns for Easter will “already have the supplies in place”. Andrew Ciclitira, director of UK dried fruit supplier Demos, urged manufacturers to be “more creative” and look to Australia and South Africa as alternative suppliers of raisins and sultanas.
Whatever the outcome of the current (!) situation, at least it gives bakers an excellent opportunity to expand their menu and use other ingredients, such as dried exotic fruits including mango or coconut and, of course, there is always the fallback of chocolate! For example, Turkey will have a bumper crop of apricots in 2018 which can be dried and stored for several years.
The reality is the world is changing and dried fruit are not the only British basics under threat. So the dried fruit crisis is just one of many to come.
Hotelympia 2018 took place at ExCeL London last week (5-8 March). The Show has the accolade of being one of the oldest; being at the forefront of the industry for over 83 years. This year, Hotelympia brought together four new shows. This created an umbrella platform for all those involved in the pub, hotel, restaurant, casual dining and contract caterers.
The four shows are:
- Interiors and Tableware Show,
- Hospitality Tech Show,
- Foodservice Show and
- The Professional Kitchen Show,
The Professional Kitchen
This Show displayed the very latest catering equipment, with key senior buyers viewing the goods on offer, from kitchen designers to operations managers, executive chefs to managing directors and distributors. The equipment ranged from appliances for large mass catering kitchens to the newer trend of micro size kitchens.
On the Rational stand, Rational‘s expert chefs prepared different meal occasions with the SelfCookingCenter and VarioCookingCenter, offering samples and live cooking demonstrations. The company also showcased its specialist accessories including the Multibaker, the grill and pizza tray and the cross and stripe grill grate.
Foodservice and Hospitality Tech
The Foodservice Show was extremely well attended. Visitors were presented with hard-to-find speciality ingredients and craft drinks as well as leading food brands and franchises. In fact, the Foodservice Show had more food and drink exhibiting companies than any other UK hospitality event.
The Hospitality Tech Show revealed how technology is revolutionising the hospitality sector. It showcased solutions and latest innovations to improve all aspects of the industry from back-room operations to enhancing the customer experience.
The Interiors and Tableware Show
Interiors and Tableware catered for every front-of-house need for a wide range of establishments from restaurant groups, bars, cafes and spas to holiday parks, schools and offices with the latest designs and products.
Another popular section was the Salon Culinaire which offered four days of sculpting and cooking. Categories here included wedding cake design, sugarcraft showpiece, sculpted novelty cake and best decorated Easter Egg! There was also a category for best sugarcraft on a hat which attracted some amazing entries and lots of attention.
Along with a host of headline speakers holding seminars on a variety of relevant subjects, Hotelympia 2018 also hosted The World Food Innovation Awards. These are designed to celebrate excellence and innovation across every category of the global food industry. As the longest and most established awards scheme in the industry, these awards were gratefully received by the eventual winners.
Finally, the Women in Hospitality day was a huge hit. This celebrated the successes and the challenges and opportunities facing women in the hospitality industry. As well as discussions on the contribution made by female hospitality entrepreneurs it also introduced some potential future stars.
What happens to a Rational oven when you leave it outside over Christmas? Simple, AC Services comes along, picks it up and repairs it! That is what happened to Nick Beardsley, joint owner of the Cotswold Food Club. Nick runs the Old Fleece, the Old Lodge, Fostons Ash and the Britannia, all pubs located around the Cotswold area.
Due to a major power surge just before Christmas, the main motherboard on the SCC WE 101 electric Rational oven at the Old Fleece was damaged and the chefs were unable to use the appliance.
Being a critical piece of equipment over that period, Nick had no choice but to replace his prized oven with a temporary one which led to the Rational oven being left outside. A quick call to AC Services and the engineers turned up to assess the situation.
“We assumed that the cold and the outside environment would have damaged the oven beyond repair but as it turned out, the engineers were quite happy to take it away.
We were delighted when we were told that it could be repaired and we could have it back,” explains Nick. “It was even better news for our chef who had been moaning about the quality of the replacement being inferior to the Rational model.”
The Old Fleece
The family-run venue is located between Stroud and Nailsworth and is a 250 year-old former coaching inn. It has been run by the Beardsley family for 25 years and Nick’s son, who was actually born in the Old Fleece, has recently taken over as manager.
The pub caters for numerous events, from staff parties to corporate lunches with chef, Aurel serving up a variety of food either from a set menu or bespoke. He is particularly noted for his Sunday roasts with the pub full at the weekend with hungry customers eager to try his food.
All pubs and hotel belonging to the Cotswold Food Club are set in historic buildings offering high quality, locally sourced food and drink in a relaxed and friendly environment. The group’s own farm in Woodchester supplies a limited amount of lamb and Gloucester Old Spot pork and venison, supplemented from farms in Gloucestershire, therefore offering only traceable, free-range meat.
“We were so pleased to get our oven back in perfect working order,” concludes Nick. “However, we were more impressed with the service offered by AC Services.
Unlike our previous maintenance contractors, the company turned up with everything on the van that might be required to repair the oven and then took it away when it was clear that it needed attention.
We have an adhoc contract with the company so we just paid for a single call out and we are extremely happy with the outcome.”
If you require information about our services and maintenance packages, call AC Services (Southern) on 01454 322222.
The Westpoint Exhibition Centre in Exeter was the setting for the 2018 Source Trade Show which took place on 6 and 7 February. This prestigious show gave visitors the opportunity to escape the big cities, where the majority of trade shows take place, and travel to the beautiful West Country and the historic city of Exeter.
The 2018 Source Trade Show was exactly as described. A venue that allows owners and managers the opportunity to source whatever they need for their premises, whether it be food ingredients, staff or equipment. As with previous shows, representatives from the pub and bar industry, the public sector including schools and hospitals, supermarkets, hotels and farm shops attended the Show.
Food and Other Stuff
Over 250 exhibitors from Taste of the West, the South West, and beyond also attended the show. 17 newcomers all from the South West exhibited at a trade show for the very first time. 83 companies also braved Source for the first time. Exhibitors comprised key South West, UK and international food and drink producers, as well as service providers.
Newcomers are more than welcome at the Source Show as the organisers explain. “We offer them special rates, or a leg up as it were…one of the biggest challenges new companies have is actually getting their products to market and the Source also connects them with distributors, who in turn get the chance to add exiting new products to their ranges.”
Visitors were able to source more unusual local products and meet face-to-face with local producers and learn the provenance of their products. The organisers wanted to present the show on all sensory platforms – taste, smell, presentation, packaging, a feat they managed admirably. Food was not the only attraction. Visitors also took advantage of other goods on display from kitchen equipment, EPoS systems, uniforms and tableware.
The Demonstration Kitchen was a huge and popular success, boasting “inspirational chefs, masterclasses, talks and more!” Perhaps the most popular area was the artisan section. But there was a massive presence from local, regional and national manufacturers and regional food and drink producers.
Some of the most popular producers included ice-cream makers, Dartington Dairy . It uses sustainable farming practices and innovation to produce their range of goats’ milk ice-creams. Their latest offering is Kefir, a super tasty cultured goats’ milk drink.
Healthy Recipes Ltd introduced MezzeSoul, a fresh pomegranate juice sauce brand which brings the heat, warmth and soul of the Mediterranean into the UK. JEAM Super Mixes is a range of award-winning, nutrient rich organic bread mixes, organic, nutrient rich and delicious. The chosen ingredients are sourced extremely carefully and are all tested thoroughly before committing to production.
And of course we should mention Rational UK. They were showing off the latest advances in their Rational oven range at the 2018 Source Trade Show.
The next year’s show is already under planning. To book your place, visit the Source Trade Show website.
In 2017, 67% of PUB17 visitors were either owner, director or manager level. While 86% of visitors claimed direct purchasing authority.
So when the doors opened last week, there were high expectations for 5000+ visitors from across the pub industry for PUB18.
The show is the only one dedicated to the UK pub industry. Since its inception in 2015, it is the perfect opportunity to meet with suppliers and learn about current and future industry issues.
New and Old
PUB18 featured some familiar favourite titbits, including the WSET Taste Table, which offered hands-on tastings. Also returning was the Pub Garden, an ideal spot to meet and network with those in the industry.
New for 2018 was the Pub Trends theatre, set to highlight what your pub must stock for the coming year. Also debuting was the New Brew Area, where the newest drinks and innovations were on show.
The seminars and talks were extremely well attended and offered real insight into improving trade and turnover. The PUB18 ‘Debate: Reasons to be Cheerful’ set out the challenges the pub industry faces in 2018. A panel of senior figures looked at the current climate in the sector, and suggested areas where operators need to focus their energies.
Leading chefs and operators then shared their ideas in the ‘Specials Board Standout: Driving your food offer forward’. Here, suggestions included how to make a pub’s food business stand out from the crowd and how to maintain and drive profitability in a world of rapidly increasing food costs.
Food and Drink
Millennials featured in an intriguing talk entitled ‘Last Orders at the bar? – Turning Millennials back onto the on-trade.’ Statistics suggest that millennials are abandoning the century-old tradition of going down the pub. Multiply UK has created a report titled ‘The Millennial Hangover – Why generation Y is not getting on with the on trade‘ which formed part of this interesting presentation.
The questions posed were simple: “why are bar visits and alcohol consumption on a sharp decline among younger audiences? Who are these Millennials, and what do they value? Most importantly, what can brands and businesses do to target this reluctant yet strategically crucial audience?” The debate raged about how to entice Millennials back!
According to the Beer & Cider Academy, “any day of the year is a day for beer and the different seasons offer an opportunity to showcase the myriad hues, flavours and characteristics of the nation’s favourite alcoholic beverage.” Hence the ‘Taste of Summer’ showcased the beer styles synonymous with the summer months and suggested complimentary food choices.
Finally, CAMRA Good Beer Guide’s Roger Protz suggested how to use the industry traditions to harness the 13M foreign tourists who visit UK pubs annually!
All in all, there was plenty of food for thought and the organisers and visitors were delighted with the outcome. PUB19 takes place 5-6 February 2019 at Olympia London so make sure you book a place for next year.
If, like me, you struggle to get your head around the plot of Doctor Who, then you’ll have your work cut out understanding Brexit. It’s not entirely sure whether the politicians themselves fully comprehend the process but in an attempt to bring you up to date with the latest events, here’s a brief Brexit update.
What do we know so far? The EU began after the Second World War to foster economic co-operation. The reasoning was that countries that trade together are less likely to fight each other. It evolved into a single market where goods and people are able to move around as if the member states were one country.
The UK has voted to leave the European Union with a scheduled departure of 11pm on Friday 29 March, 2019. There are three key “divorce” issues:
- how much the UK owes the EU,
- what happens to the border in Northern Ireland and
- what happens to UK citizens living elsewhere in the EU and vice versa.
Agreement on these issues was reached on 8 December: the so-called Breakthrough Deal. There is also a plan to be finalised for a two-year transition period.
Should I Stay or Should I Go?
Prime Minister Theresa May was initially against Brexit, but now has no choice but to acquiesce to the British people. The day after the referendum, the pound slumped but it is now regaining its losses against the dollar, while remaining 15% down against the Euro. Indeed, the UK’s economy was estimated to have grown 1.8% in 2016, second only to Germany’s 1.9%.
The negotiating teams from both the UK and EU meet face-to-face for one week each month with the aim of getting the transition agreed in March, with a deal on permanent future relations hopefully agreed in the Autumn.
We hear a lot about Article 50. Basically this is merely a plan for any country that wishes to exit the EU. It stipulates that any member state deciding to withdraw must notify the European Council and negotiate its withdrawal with the EU, with two years to reach an agreement. It also states that the state wishing to leave cannot take part in EU internal discussions about its departure.
The Food Industry
According to a report issued last week, “Brexit risks increasing food prices, lowering safety and welfare standards, causing food shortages and worsening a public health crisis in the UK.”
A third of the food Britons eat currently comes from the EU. The UK already has a “catastrophic” £22.5bn trade deficit in food. The warning was issued to UK producers who will be under pressure to produce cheaper food after Brexit. The fear is that leaving the EU will lead to higher prices and a reduction in choice.
Named items that could increase significantly in price are beef, cheddar, tomatoes and broccoli but National Farmers Union director general, Terry Jones, called for a “well-regulated industry with short supply chains rather than adopting an ‘all-comers’ approach”. He believes this could act as a safeguard for standards and prevent food fraud.
The politicians have just over a year to smooth out the wrinkles in the deal. The same applies to British food manufacturers. They have the opportunity to take the bull by the horns and dictate the industry to their own high standards.
Finally, and for many people, most importantly, we will still be able to enter the Eurovision Song Contest. Participant countries need only to be a member of the European Broadcasting Union (which we are) which is independent of the EU.