Category Archives: Ovens
Commercial Kitchen is the multi-award nominated trade show for the UK’s catering equipment industry and attracts over 2,000 visitors.
Visitors and exhibitors
Exhibitors came from all parts of the industry, with over 80 leading industry suppliers showcasing innovative catering equipment, devices and services. The show attracted representatives from big names like EAT, Pret, Costa, Sainsbury’s, Subway, Tesco, Debenhams, Nando’s, Pizza Hut, Casual Dining Group, ASK Italian, Mitchells & Butlers, Zizzi, Greene King, Thwaites, Whitbread, Gate Gourmet, Merlin Entertainment Sodexo, Brakes, National Trust and Bourne Leisure.
In addition there were visitors from the widest range of public and private sector industries from independent restaurants, schools and universities, to local authorities and attractions.
There were plenty of people to see and hear at the show. Conversation sessions included Vivek Singh, executive chef and founder of The Cinnamon Collection, Claire Clark MBE and Robert Quehan, head chef at The Redwood Bistro, Bishopstoke Park.
Panel discussions covered pub kitchens, sustainability, kitchen design, the important role of equipment distributors, multi-site restaurant innovation, foodservice consultants, hospital kitchens and prison kitchens.
Rational Oven Award
The show also featured the Commercial Kitchen Innovation Challenge Awards where the top ten exhibitors to have secured the most visitor votes were invited to pitch their new innovations. The results saw four companies receiving gold awards, four being awarded silver and two taking home bronze. The Rational SelfCookingCenter XL was awarded silver.
AC Services (Southern) was delighted to see the Rational appliance recognised and appreciated for its reliability, performance and innovation.
A Show to Attend?
For those in the catering business, it’s worth considering whether to attend next year’s Catering Equipment Show. Perhaps the words of two key attendees may help.
. “We are always looking for the latest in technology to improve our kitchens’ efficiency and food quality. Commercial Kitchen is the perfect event to identify tomorrow’s technology today and network with industry experts,” Kumour Uddin, executive group chef at Anglian Country Inns .
“As someone who wants the best equipment for our teams and customers, Commercial Kitchen and the Catering Equipment Show is a good and very relevant show for me. I look forward to attending again and watching this important event grow over the coming years.” Dirk Wissmann, senior equipment buyer at Pret A Manger.
Sometimes we have to go above and beyond the call of duty and for Kevin, a senior engineer at AC Services (Southern), a passing enquiry saw him catching a flight to Barcelona and spending a night on a luxury yacht.
The story unravelled a week before the Bank Holiday weekend in March, when MD Helen Hagger took one of the company vans home. A neighbour expressed an interest in the logo on the van and when Helen explained that the company was the service partner for Rational for South West England, the neighbour became even more interested. Lee Marshall is head chef on a 60m private yacht . He is familiar with Rational ovens as he was having problems with the 6-grid Rational cook station on board the yacht.
According to Lee, “whilst cruising from the Seychelles to Italy the oven decided enough was enough and stopped working. I had contacted Rational international but they were unable to help as I couldn’t access the service area of the oven. On my return to the UK, I was informed that the Italian engineers (Rational) wouldn’t attempt to service/fix the oven unless we pulled it out of the galley and on to the hard stuff, which is something that wasn’t going to happen as it weighs a ton!”
The upshot of the conversation was that Lee asked Helen if she could help find out what was wrong with the on-board oven. And the logistics of solving the problem on a floating boat somewhere off the coast of Italy began! Being Bank Holiday, there were few engineers available at such short notice for a foreign trip. But when he mentioned that the yacht would be travelling to Barcelona the following week, a resolution became more likely.
USB and Passports
Helen provided Lee with a Rational usb stick to download the HACCP and service data. This would give him a pointer as to what was wrong with the oven. Lee rang in on the Monday morning and engineer Jon talked him through how to download the data.
It became apparent that a physical diagnosis was required so Helen asked both senior engineers if either of them would like to go to Italy or Spain. Despite the lack of a passport, Kev volunteered. The essential passport was fasttracked a few days later and in the meantime, Kev liaised closely with Lee.
With Helen away on holiday and with a limited phone signal, the onus was on Kev to solve the problem. On her return, Lee was still adamant that he wanted AC Services to sort out the oven, despite Rational service partners being available in both Italy and Spain. Helen’s return to work on Tuesday saw estimates of the cost of the repair including Kev flying to Barcelona. The captain of the yacht gave the go-ahead, the flights were booked and all the parts required were sourced and packed.
Fast Track Service
By Friday morning, the oven was under repair, with on-board engineers helping Kev to get the oven out to gain access to the left hand side panel. The problem was quickly and efficiently solved. By lunchtime, Kev was finished and free to take a look around the yacht and a browse around Barcelona. He even had time to take in some rays on the beach before he flew back the next day.
Lee is now delighted with his fully operational Rational oven. “Helen was very positive and after she contacted the office I was put in touch with Kevin, one of the engineers. He asked all the right questions to ascertain the fault and what he might need to fix the problem. I highly recommend the services of AC Services Southern and will undoubtedly use them again.”
There has been plenty of speculation in the media recently about schools. Labour has announced an ambitious plan to put VAT on private school fees and use the money to fund free meals for all primary school children.
No doubt this is a backlash against Theresa May’s plan to bring back grammar schools but it has inevitably caused some disagreement.
According to the National Association of Head Teachers, school budgets are currently “at breaking point”. Some schools, faced with their first real-terms spending cuts in decades, are making staff redundant. There are more pupils to every class and some subjects are being scrapped.
So parents are understandably a bit sceptical about Labour blowing £1.5 billion on lunches.
New Build Schools
However, the government has already pledged to build more schools, among them 140 new free schools which are destined to create a further 70,000 new places. This comes on the back of the pledge to create more grammar schools. The budget allocated for the changes is £500 million. But existing schools may require a lot more to bring themselves up to the standard of the new ones.
Teaching unions have said that although £216 million has been set aside in maintenance and refurbishment grants, as much as £6.7 billion is needed to return all school buildings to a good condition.
The government’s £0.5B package is also earmarked for public transport costs or minibuses for children from poorer families to go to grammar schools that are between two and fifteen miles from their homes.
School Meals Investment
All government-funded schools must offer free school meals to every pupil in reception, year 1 and year 2 and the funding is and will continue to be £2.30 per meal.
For kitchens, this money can go further with a bit of imagination and the right appliance for the cooking. When buying capital items, it is always good to consider all costs not just the ticket price of the oven. A reliable and well-known model such as the Rational oven range cuts down on maintenance and enhances performance. With a maintenance plan with AC Services (Southern), schools can be assured of immediate service should anything go wrong, and a routine service on a regular basis.
There are other ways of making the money go further. Create more exciting recipes and cook from scratch using healthy ingredients such as vegetables. Reduce wastage by investing in an oven that can keep food at the correct temperature throughout the meal serving times.
There is no way of predicting the future of the educational system, but if you are involved in school meals, then at least preempt any proposed changes and make sure that you are equipped with the most appropriate and up-to-date kitchen knowledge.
Call the team at AC Services to see how we can service and maintain your Rational and Frima equipment economically on 01454 322 222.
The prospect of the ovens failing at Lambrook School is too serious to contemplate so as a precaution, the school uses AC Services (Southern) under a pre-arranged maintenance agreement.
Twice a year, the Rational gas ovens – one a SCC WE101 model and the other a SCC WE 201 model – are serviced and should the school require any ad hoc attention, then AC Services are on hand to deliver!
Lambrook is a thriving independent school which is home to 510 boys and girls plus 100+ staff. The Lambrook experience combines first class teaching and superb facilities with traditional values, in the idyllic, tranquil surroundings of the beautiful Berkshire countryside.
According to Sophie Connery, the Catering Manager of the school’s external catering company, The Brookwood Partnership, the relationship with AC Services is utterly essential to the smooth running of the kitchen. “When we first starting using Rational ovens at Lambrook School there was a maintenance company on call, but AC Services came recommended from Rational and we haven’t looked back since.”
Sophie admits that there are few major things that go wrong, but the small little niggles can sometimes be just as annoying. “It really doesn’t matter what the problem is, large or small, AC Services come out and see us. We had noisy dry heat burners and the engineers were sent out immediately,” continues Sophie. “The beauty of AC Services is that nothing is too much trouble and the engineers have fully stocked vans so there is never a delay in waiting for parts.”
The Rational ovens are obviously used on a daily basis. “The appliances are completely reliable but no-one can foresee some of the variables that occur. The school operates five days a week as a day school with Saturday school for the senior pupils. Boarding at Lambrook is very flexible and enables children to board anything from 5 nights a week to 1 night here and there which means that there is no downtime for the ovens. With the help of AC Services, we make sure that the ovens are always kept in the best possible condition.”
Attitude is the one other thing that puts AC Services top of the list as far as Sophie is concerned. “It doesn’t matter when we call, what we need or how far the engineer is from us,” concludes Sophie, “from the ladies in the office who take the call to the engineers, there is always a friendly voice or a smile and service is exemplary.”
Lambrook School has an exemplary record academically and as far as cuisine goes, the food is top notch! A good chef and a good Rational oven maintained by AC Services is the winning combination!
2016 is set to be a busy year according to MD of RATIONAL UK, Lee Norton both for his brand and for the combi oven market in general.
There is a definite trend for kitchens getting smaller, workforces being streamlined and value for money being appreciated.
“Consumers are more choosy when it comes to food,” he comments. “Where they eat relies on two main issues: consistency of food, service and quality. And when it comes to meeting these requirements, more and more food venues are turning towards the combi oven.”
Combi Oven Benefits
The benefits of a combi oven are myriad. Not only is the cooking enhanced but a combi oven reduces the number of appliances required within a kitchen, hence a smaller carbon footprint. This equates to cost savings in terms of energy, which is a key incentive for catering establishments.
In addition, continues Mr Norton, the versatility of a combi oven augments the variety of food able to be delivered. “Healthier foods are now a major requirement for both public and private caterers,” he explains.
“The RATIONAL Self Cooking Center oven can deliver a fully cooked breakfast with no additional fat or oil. Major catering names such as Premier Inn are now implementing the concept as they realise the cost savings in terms of reduced cooking times and fewer appliances such as separate frying pans, and a reduced number of kitchen staff.”
70% Combi Oven Market Share
RATIONAL still holds in the region of 70% of the UK combi oven market share, with growth expected to yet again reach double digits in the next twelve months.
“The catering industry received a major boost in 2014 with the introduction of free school meals, and this also had a positive effect on the private sector, which realised an exponential growth last year,” continues Mr Norton.
“We have seen an expansion in our own personnel:
- We now have 23 development chefs around the UK and a comprehensive service partner network, of which AC Services (Southern) is a vital player.
- We have more than 200 engineers providing same day coverage, with a first time fix rate in excess of 95%.
These are statistics of which we are very proud as we excel in providing excellent after sales service by trained and audited personnel in all areas, from chefs to engineers.”
What’s Ahead for RATIONAL?
“We are not sitting on our laurels,” concludes Mr Norton. “We still invest heavily in new product development.
We have recently produced the VarioSmoker, extending the functionality of the RATIONAL combi oven to produce smoked food. With a growing trend towards Mexican and Brazilian cuisine, this has been extremely well received”.
“And our most recent launch was the Cross and Stripe Grill Grate, which allows perfect steaks to be cooked in the oven, not in a pan or on a griddle, and with the traditional bar marks. This innovation provides a healthier and more cost efficient way to cooking the perfect meat.”
Consistency and quality are what customers look for in their food suppliers, and RATIONAL adopts these qualities in its everyday operations. If you cater for the public and are looking for cost efficiency, healthy cooking and a lower carbon footprint, look no further than a RATIONAL combi oven.
Christmas has finally come around with the big day a week away, and here at AC Services (Southern) we are eagerly awaiting the start of the holidays and some much-needed time off for fun and laughs! So these are AC Services Christmas opening times:
21st December – normal opening hours – 8.30am to 5pm
22nd December – normal opening hours
23rd December – normal opening hours
24th December – closing early for mince pies and mulled wine. If you have any problems, make sure it’s before 3pm please!
25th December – we’re afraid you are on your own.
26th December – couldn’t move if we tried: far too much turkey
27th December – engineer on call. Treat him nicely, he’s probably still recovering from the above
28th December – office closed, but an engineer will be on call
29th December – normal opening hours- 8.30-5.00
30th December – normal opening hours
31st December – normal opening hours. Although engineers will be looking for a party to gatecrash if they need to work late!
1st January – closed.
An engineer will be on call 2nd and 3rd January for emergencies and it’s back to normal working hours on Monday 4th January.
All you have to do in an emergency is telephone 01454 322222 and press the appropriate option so we can help you as quickly as we can. Or leave a message, if not urgent, for when the office is next open.
For stock parts and cleaning products, the last date for guaranteed Christmas delivery for an order to be placed is Tuesday 22nd December at 5pm. We recommend that you CHECK your stock now, to make sure that you have everything you need, because we know it’s not funny when you run out.
Or perhaps you are one of the lucky ones who have an advent calendar filled with expensive cosmetics from some of the more affluent stores, which is the current trend amongst the girls.
So it’s time to start thinking about food. It’s not just about buying an uber-sized turkey or getting the nut roast out of the freezer, there is so much more to prepare and cook for the week long traditional eating fest. Think of the vegetables: brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, peas, carrots, cabbage and not forgetting those all-important roast potatoes. Then there’s the stuffing, sausages and pigs in blankets.
The bird or its equivalent for vegetarians, vegans and pescetarians takes pride of place then you have to think of the pudding. Traditional Christmas pudding with brandy sauce and dollops of custard, or trifle, profiteroles or anything else that makes you so uncomfortable that breathing becomes a chore.
It’s All in the Timing
Whatever amount of food you have, the planning and timing of the cooking process is vital. There isn’t a household in the country that hasn’t faced the nightmare of cold, overcooked or undercooked food at Christmas at some point. And that’s where a good oven comes into its own. For commercial caterers, pubs, restaurants and hotels, it is essential that the kitchen has a reputable and reliable oven, such as the range from Rational Ovens.
Here at AC Services (Southern) we recommend the Rational range for its reliability, reputation, performance and maintenance support network. Over the years and in thousands of locations, Rational ovens have proved their resilience and reliability, as well as their cost efficiency.
Rational ovens are one of the best professional kitchen cooking appliances on the market today. Rational ovens can be pre-programmed to perform almost any combination of cooking methods, including roasting, grilling, frying and broiling. What could be better for a Christmas banquet?
The manufacturer has a long-term relationship with AC Services as an approved partner, with numerous maintenance and service packages available to suit any budget across South West England and South Wales.
In addition, we supply all the assistance you need to service and maintain your oven, from Rational Grill Cleaner, Rational Rinse Aid, Rational Oven Cleaning Tablets for the SCC (SelfCooking Center®) range and for those with Care Control, Rational Care Control Tablets and accessories.
So enjoy the countdown to the big day and if you have a Rational oven, make sure it is in working order and has been recently serviced. If it’s not been serviced recently, then call us now and we can talk you through the options available on 01454 322 222 to make sure the Christmas season goes ahead without drama.
The Dunkirk Memorial House in Taunton is owned by the British Legion and is one of the organisation’s care homes that provides for former servicemen and women or their dependents.
The Legion currently has six care homes providing short and long-term care around the country, including four with specialist dementia care.
Each provides long-term nursing and personal care, and the food is an essential element of the service; as Taff Davies, Head of Catering at the Dunkirk home explains, keeping all the residents happy all of the time requires skill.
Catering at Dunkirk
“We rely upon two Rational ovens to fulfil the catering needs,” he comments. “Both are in constant use and in my opinion, with many years experience as a catering manager in the armed forces, they are the best on the market.”
Dunkirk Memorial House has 60 rooms, as well as a 30-bed Dementia care wing and the emphasis within the facility is on independence. So having a varied menu from which the residents can make a choice is important to Taff, who since his arrival two years ago, has revolutionised the cooking arena!
“I prefer to make dishes from scratch, not serve up food that is pre-prepared,” he continues. “This led to many hours spent searching for suitable suppliers, but we eventually got there, and with the help of the ovens, we are now able to produce the highest standards when it comes to meals.”
The Rational ovens allow Taff and his team to bake, steam and roast a variety of meats and fish, enabling them to be able to produce locally grown and produced meals for the 84 residents who currently reside at Dunkirk. This to Taff is an important aspect of independent living.
“We refuse to serve up substandard food, as the residents at Dunkirk and all of the British Legion homes deserve the highest level of quality from their food.”
Should anything go wrong with the Rational appliances, Taff has organised a budget care package for the older oven, a Gas 62 2007 as the other, the G62 WE 2013 is still under warranty. Under the agreement, AC Services (Southern) make two scheduled services annually, and as always, are on call should anything go amiss, although as Taff admits, the majority of calls to the company are simply for new deliveries of cleaning tablets.
“The ovens have a variety of functions that help in everyday catering on a large scale, which were explained by the team from AC Services, and which help enormously in the preparation of healthy, fresh meals for the residents,” Taff concludes.
The British Legion home communities include men and women of varied ages and abilities, each with a dedicated social activity team who tailor activities to residents’ needs. As always, the charity is grateful for donations, so to make a donation, simply contact the British Legion on its website.
In common with the rest of the industry, we look forward to those two days of not having to worry about getting into the office, getting out on the road and getting down and dirty with Rational ovens!
Hopefully by now, you will have all done the sensible thing and taken advantage of the excellent AC Services Southern maintenance packages that we have on offer and have all sorted out your Rational ovens for the mad Christmas rush.
Remember to check your supplies: if you require any cleaning products for your Rational ovens at this peak period or stock parts, then you have only until the end of this week to order them with guaranteed delivery before Christmas.
Clients have also asked us when we will be open over the Christmas and New Year period and these are also given below.
Last order dates for guaranteed delivery before Christmas
Thursday 18th December 12 noon Liquid Cleaning Products
Friday 19th December 12 noon Cleaning Tablets
Friday 19th December 12 noon Stock Parts/Brita Cartridges
Office opening hours and engineers on call
We know things might go wrong sometimes, and Christmas rarely runs smoothly for anyone. If you need any help with your Rational oven repairs over Christmas or any emergency breakdowns, here are details of our Christmas working hours.
Our office is open over the Christmas/New Year period as below. Engineers are on call when the office is open and as shown on weekends for any emergencies.
Monday 22nd December 8.30am – 5.15pm
Tuesday 23rd December 8.30am – 5.15pm
Wednesday 24th December 8.30am – 3.00pm
Thursday 25th December CLOSED
Friday 26th December CLOSED
Saturday 27th December Engineer on call
Sunday 28th December Engineer on call
Monday 29th December 8.30am – 5.00pm
Tuesday 30th December 8.30am – 5.00pm
Wednesday 31st December 8.30am – 3.00pm
Thursday 1st January CLOSED
Friday 2nd January 8.30am – 5.15pm
Saturday 3rd January Engineer on call
Sunday 4th January Engineer on call
Monday 5th January BACK TO NORMAL!
In times of emergency for Rational ovens, we’re here to help. For the South, South West and South Wales, there is one telephone number for all your Rational Service and Spare requirements so call 01454 322222.
Basically, what this entails is roaming around the South West of England one day a week giving cookery demonstrations on his Rational SelfCookingCenter 5 Senses.
Tim visits four locations once a week: Gloucester, Bath, Bristol and Swindon (the latter two at the local football clubs) and shows his talents off to a diverse range of clients, from care home owners to restaurateurs to decision makers in schools. And he loves his job.
“You wouldn’t buy a car unless you test drove it first, and the same should apply to a combi oven” he explains. “My job as a skilled and highly trained chef is to show what a Rational appliance is capable of, and in addition, the clients can relate to me as I have a catering background, just like them.”
Rational has a strict policy of employing only staff who have experience in a kitchen environment, allowing them to empathise with the customer and understand what kind of problems are faced, chef to chef. Tim believes that this is what elevates Rational Ovens above all other competitors.
“I began with Rational a year ago, and have been over to the manufacturing site in Germany to see exactly what goes into a Rational appliance,” continues Tim. “The company knows what challenges face those working in a kitchen environment, and liaising with chefs and those with a catering background means that solutions to unseen and unforeseen problems are integrated into the design.”
Tim’s party piece is demonstrating how a full English breakfast can be cooked on a Rational oven in just seven minutes. Seven minutes to produce the perfect fry-up! “It’s because these appliances cook on average 30% faster than conventional ovens,” states Tim. “And that is nothing but good news for those who run a catering establishment.”
And the roaming Regional Development Chef concept works! Tim is proud to confirm that 80% of those who attend his demonstrations go on to buy a Rational oven. That’s an impressive turnaround and one that Tim puts down to the reliability, engineering and capacity of the appliances.
Rational produces the SelfCookingCenter® range of ovens with advanced automatic programming software that are reliable, versatile, come with a two-year guarantee and have fully automated self cleaning. Tim works closely with the team at AC Services (Southern), who service and maintain Rational ovens and who are one of Rational’s top service partners with a customer service record that is the envy of the industry.
So if you are considering purchasing a new oven, get along to one of Tim Calvert’s demonstrations throughout the South West. Call AC Services (Southern) on 01454 322 222 to find out when he will be in your area, and see for yourself how a Rational appliance can benefit your business.