Category Archives: Ovens

01 
Apr

We’re Still Open for Key Sites

AC Services Open for Key Sites

While this will be our last blog for a while due to the impacts of coronavirus, we are still open for key sites with our core crew. If you’ve had to close please follow our Rational oven close down tips below.

So, if you’re a hospital, care home or an off-site food company with a maintenance contract with AC Services you’re still covered for any breakdowns that occur. If this does happen please call the normal number 01454 322 222 and speak to Helen. She will arrange for our engineer to visit to repair the breakdown.

If you’re already a connectedcooking kitchen, we are able to remotely monitor and identify the fault, which can minimise the time we need to spend with you.

New Customers

If you’re a not a regular AC Services customer, but have a breakdown on a Rational oven in the area we cover of South West England and Southern Wales; we might be able to assist you if you are a key site such as a hospital or care facility.

As we’re sure you understand, we are prioritising our established client base and responding to their breakdowns. This unfortunately means we cannot promise to assist you as promptly as normal and may mean our engineer will be diverted elsewhere. But for key facilities, we will try to help repair your Rational breakdown if we can.

Continuing Business and Key Sites

Obviously, we need to continue to operate within the guidelines issued by the government to minimise the spread of coronavirus. We are considering what impacts this has on the need to regularly service Rational ovens to prevent breakdowns and how we can deliver this over the longer term.

In the meantime, we’d urge customers to ensure that the weekly and daily maintenance routines are adhered to using the approved products. These are available from our on-line shop if your stocks are running low.

Rational Oven Close Down Procedures

If you have closed your kitchen then please do the following for your Rational oven close down.

For Rational SH, SI and Combi Master Plus please watch these handy videos first. Steam tank emptying. CM P tank emptying which is a download.

  1. Find the water supply and isolate the unit.
  2. Use the Handshower until it is empty.
  3. Power off unit and leave door partially open

When returning unit to operation, return power and water

  1. Use hand shower to rinse water feed system
  2. Run unit in steam for 30 minutes
  3. Run short cleanjet

Or for Rational CareControl SG range

Rational oven close down for Carecontrol
  1. Find the water supply and isolate the unit.
  2. Use the Handshower until it is empty.
  3. Follow instructions above to empty tank. If this does not work with the door closed, repeat with door open
  4. Power off unit and leave door partially open

When returning unit to operation, return power and water

  1. Use hand shower to rinse water feed system
  2. Run unit in steam for 30 minutes
  3. Run short cleanjet

Keeping in Touch

While there won’t be any blogs for the next few weeks, please follow us on Facebook for any updates. Or if you are spending time creating a new strategy for your business why not check out our earlier blogs on trends in catering businesses and show reports.

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Published Date: 1st April 2020
Category: Blog, Catering Business, Cleaning Products, News, Ovens, Rational, Self Cooking Centre
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04 
Feb

Rational’s VarioCookingCenter

Rational VarioCookingCenter at a cooklive demo

As an authorised Rational Service and Spares Partner, AC Services Southern repairs and maintains the complete range of Rational units. This includes the VarioCookingCenter previously sold under the Frima brand. So this week we’re focusing on that as one of the units we service for clients across South West England and South Wales.

Rational’s VarioCookingCenter® is the ideal multi-functional appliance for any kitchen because it can do a multitude of cooking tasks at the same time. The beauty of the appliance is the value it offers – savings in time, cost, speed and ultimately, profits.

The VarioCookingCenter® is suitable for any catering requirements, from small caterers to high-end restaurants. With over 95% efficiency, it cooks up to four times faster than conventional appliances. And uses up to 40% less power consumption.

Moreover, it has cooking versatility, letting you cook several different dishes quickly at the same time. The multi-functional cooking technology lets you bake, boil, roast, toast, braise, deep fry and a host of other cooking techniques. So if you are serving a full English breakfast; you can serve up the fried bacon, boiled eggs, sautéed tomatoes and toast all at the same time.

Pressure Cooking

The appliance also offers a pressure-cooking feature, enabling the reduction of cooking times for a range of dishes. Times for soups, stews, casseroles and braised dishes can be cut by 30% without compromising taste or quality. The built-in cooking intelligence VarioCookingControl® ensures the desired cooking level is achieved precisely.

Another major benefit of the VarioCookingCenter is its space-saving value. If you are tight on space, then this system is the perfect solution. It has an integrated water outlet which allows draining without any movement to the pan. This prevents scalding and allows the appliance to be installed without a floor channel drain. Furthermore, because nothing sticks or overcooks, cleaning time is minimised.

Expert Design

The appliance has been designed by experts using intensive R&D, testing and analysis to attain the optimum cooking intelligence. As a result, the VarioCookingCenter works day and night with minimal monitoring or checking required. Because the appliance sensitively regulates the temperature at the touch of a button, you get a perfect cooking result the next morning. This is a major boost for larger cuts of meat that need overnight boiling like ham or cured pork, beef and brisket.

The VarioCookingCenter is a sustainable and holistic approach to everyday cooking designed for resource savings using the very latest technology. Contact us here at AC Services (Southern) for more details if you need it serviced or maintained on 01454 322 222.

If you’d like to buy one, contact Rational UK or attend a local cooklive demonstration to see its suitability for your business.

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Published Date: 4th February 2020
Category: Blog, Catering Business, News, Ovens, Rational
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14 
Jan

Top Tips for Catering Businesses in 2020

Top tips for catering

This year has started somewhat explosively, with concerns about the environment, bush fires, international political escalations and the future of certain members of the monarchy in jeopardy. But people still have to eat. So putting the news aside, it’s time to consider the next twelve months for catering businesses. Here are our top tips for catering businesses for 2020.

Firstly, there are no guarantees about the impact of Brexit. The best route to take is the one that is already benefiting your business directly. Top of the list is the maintenance of your appliances. Put in place a maintenance programme for your ovens. This will ensure that whatever disasters or decisions may befall us over the next twelve months; a substandard, under-performing oven won’t be one of them.

It’s All About the Planning

Secondly, plan for regular and irregular annual events. There are always catering opportunities linked to traditional dates, such as Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Christmas, food festivals and so on. Take a look at our sporting calendar for additional opportunities in 2020. It’s an Olympic year as well as Euro 2020 for football fans and the start of the new cricket Hundred game. So if you are catering for sports fans, take advantage or provide an alternative for non-sports fans.

Staff training is essential. Don’t stint on training because if something goes wrong, the consequences can be catastrophic. Make sure that your staff are fully familiar with all relevant health and safety requirements and appliance operation, and make this an ongoing exercise. There is a plethora of H&S legislation and come Brexit, there is bound to be more. Educate your staff so that in your absence, your business will still thrive.

Goal Setting

Set goals in terms of time management and profit and loss, and make them realistic. There is nothing more demoralising than not reaching your target within the time frame allotted but be reasonable on yourself. We have endured a turbulent and uncertain few years politically, and it’s not over yet. Continue working to the highest standard professionally and don’t cut corners.

Invest in catastrophe training. As we have seen from the traumatic scenes in Australia, sometimes we are at the mercy of unforeseen and unpredictable forces. These may be natural or man-made but either way, they can cause the loss of business. Be prepared. If you are a mobile catering company, plan for both rain and shine at events. If you live in flood-prone areas, check weather predictions and plan for the safe removal or protection of appliances and staff.

Trend-Spotting

The last of our top tips for catering businesses and perhaps most importantly, keep an eye on current trends. We have seen a momentous rise in vegan and vegetarian demands for restaurants and fast food outlets in the past few years. With culinary trends changing constantly, there is always an opportunity for savvy operators to gain a foothold in a new market.

Don’t be afraid to be bold and always check out the news on AC Services Southern’s blog and like our Facebook page.

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Published Date: 14th January 2020
Category: Blog, Catering Business, News, Ovens
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26 
Nov

Last Service Call for Christmas

Black Friday kickoff for Christmas countdown for Rational oven servicing

In the good old days, we used to all be aware of the number of shopping days till Christmas. But now every day is a shopping day. On-line and in the real world, we’re able to get most things within 24 hours of ordering them. Increasingly we have become reliant upon that.

Problems arise when that last-minute expectation cannot be met for perfectly valid reasons. Like a finite number of service engineers and everyone suddenly needing their expertise. This is the problem we face every year at AC Services Southern; when catering businesses suddenly realise in December they need their Rational oven servicing before peak Christmas use.

Black Friday Reminder

Black Friday sales seem to be launched earlier each year. One UK retailer started theirs in October this year! Black Friday is the Friday after Thanksgiving, which is the last Thursday in November. Thanksgiving is the big American turkey dinner with all the trimmings followed by pumpkin pie for the whole family; while Black Friday signifies the start of the countdown to Christmas not the biggest sales.

Indeed it’s called Black Friday from all the heavy and disruptive vehicle and pedestrian traffic. This caused gridlock on the streets of Philadelphia, as the whole family went shopping on their free day. It sounds a bit like a cross between a Boxing Day walk and the start of New Year sales!

For AC Services, it’s almost become a tradition that on the Tuesday nearest Thanksgiving, we blog our gentle reminder to Rational oven users in South West England and South Wales. This is to not delay and book your pre-Christmas Rational service today on 01454 322 222.

This way both of us can tick your equipment off our to do list early and concentrate on the real Christmas dramas later in December. We can guarantee that up until Christmas Eve, our engineers will be working flat out to cope with the inevitable panicked last-minute rush of breakdowns and servicing!

Buy On-line

Now is also a good time to check that you have all the cleaning products you need to ensure that your Rational ovens continue to function at their highest efficiency. Rational Self-Cooking-Centers have automatic cleaning programmes built into their software. When used with the right cleaning materials you get cosmetic and hygienic cleanliness.

Our on-line shop enables you to purchase these at whatever time of day you remember or have free in the forthcoming rush. But please be aware as these are delivered by delivery firms and they may be affected by their delays caused by volume of parcels and weather. Again earlier purchase enables greater peace of mind.

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Published Date: 26th November 2019
Category: Catering Business, Cleaning Products, News, Ovens, Rational, Self Cooking Centre, Service plan
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19 
Nov

Are You Aware of ConnectedCooking

Rational's ConnectedCooking is the way forward for catering businesses

The world is becoming increasingly technology-enabled. Nowadays there seems to be an app or a Smart solution for almost everything. While some leave me wondering why there is a need, the same is not true of Rational Oven’s ConnectedCooking.

Since March 2017 Rational has been enabling its SelfCookingCenter® units with ConnectedCooking functionality and equipping them with Ethernet ports. More recently they’ve launched an app to create the world’s most state-of-the-art cloud-based networking solution for professional kitchens. It’s available on iTunes and Google Play Store . These advances bring real benefits to professional catering businesses.

Increasing Convenience

The app and the ports enable all your Rational SelfCookingCenter® or CombiMaster® Plus units to be connected to a single network completely automatically. As a manager you will always know what is going on in your kitchen through the dashboard. Even when you’re off-site and can make adjustments remotely through your own device in real time.

It also makes sharing your cooking programmes across all your units easier and quicker. This in turn removes time-consuming activities and ensures the consistency of food safety in your kitchen.

But ConnectedCooking is not just for larger kitchens. The secure remote access enables software updates to be installed, quickly like those on your laptop, so that your Rational is always running optimally. The app also makes it easier to access inspiration for new menus through new ideas from other foodservice professionals and Rational chefs.

Security of Food and Data

Food safety is a demanding challenge for modern kitchen operations. Ever-increasing government requirements and stringent hygiene standards require a great deal of administrative work. It’s also important to eliminate operator error as much as possible. ConnectedCooking automatically captures all the key HACCP information and displays it in a dashboard with the option to download and print.

The remote access can be authorised for your Service Partner, such as AC Services, as part of a service contract. This enables remote diagnostics for problems and can fix issues without the need for an engineer to visit. It also alerts AC Services that there might be an issue. As you would expect the system uses state-of-the-art encryption technology to keep all data secure and compliant with GDPR.

New Year Opportunity?

If your SelfCookingCenter® units were made after March 2017, you just need to connect them to your network by a LAN cable or wireless module and download the free app to get started by registering the units. If not then we would be delighted to come out in 2020 to retrofit them with the Ethernet interfaces.

Either way give the AC Services team a call on 01454 322 222 in January to discuss further ConnectedCooking functionality and how it benefits all sizes and types of kitchen. We can then make your maintenance issues even easier to solve, saving more time in 2020.

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Published Date: 19th November 2019
Category: Blog, News, Ovens, Rational, Self Cooking Centre
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12 
Nov

Rational Cleaning Routine

Ensuring service through Rational oven cleaning products

It might be mid-November but it’s getting perilously close to Xmas. Which means you should start making lists of everything you need to make the season progress as smoothly as possible.

If you are in charge of catering, then remember to add Rational cleaning products to the list. They may not be as glamorous as some of your requests to Santa, but they are an oft-overlooked necessity.

Rational Cleaning Products Save Time

Your Rational oven needs to be cleaned regularly in order to perform to its optimal capacity. And you need to ensure that the correct cleaning products are used.

At AC Services, 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.

If you have more than one oven, then you may need different cleaning product combinations. As a reminder, we supply:

  • Rational Oven Cleaner Tab (x100): highly concentrated tablets specially developed with a complex set of active ingredients designed to guarantee maximum cleaning power.
  • Rational Oven Care Tablets (x150) with special scale-dissolving ingredients contained to prevent limescale building up. These give reliability without a water softener and the need for separate time-consuming descaling.
  • Rational Rinse Tablets (x50) highly effective care products ensuring active protection.
  • The Rational Grill Cleaner (10 litres) for use with a hand spray gun.
  • Rational Rinse Aid (10 litres).
  • For water filtration, the products are either the Brita Purity 1200 Quell ST Filter Cartridge or the Brita Purity 600 Quell ST Filter Cartridge.

Be Prepared

You may think you have plenty of time but it never hurts to be prepared. And that means BOOKING A SERVICE now if you haven’t already to avoid the inevitable last-minute panic rush. We would be delighted to come out and check your oven over and pre-empt any problems that might arise.

Otherwise to order your Rational cleaning products, simply go to our on-line shop. Or call us on 01454 322222 for more advice of how to keep on top of your Rational oven cleaning.

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Published Date: 12th November 2019
Category: Blog, Cleaning Products, News, Ovens, Rational, Self Cooking Centre, Service plan
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05 
Nov

Don’t Delay Service Today

Don't delay service today

We were rather hoping to bring good news this week, if not about Brexit then about the Rugby World Cup. Instead, we have a runners-up medal and a delay. But fear not, we also have a pre-Christmas general election to look forward to.

And unless you have taken a break from reality this weekend, you will notice that the Christmas and New Year countdown is beginning in earnest.

It’s time to start planning and where better than the annual service for your Rational appliances.

Spiralling Costs

There are two issues for all catering businesses to remember:

  1. you want to keep your oven in pristine condition for maximum and reliable performance.
  2. you don’t want to spend any more money over the festive period than you have already budgeted for.

The cost element can be far-reaching. It’s not just the expense in downtime if you have an oven failure, but also the cost of calling out an engineer if you don’t have a contract in place. Emergency call outs for one of AC Services’ engineers can be 1.5 times or double the normal rate if it has to be the weekend.

Not having a service contract is not cost efficient. Servicing is the key to optimum performance. Here at AC Services, we constantly reiterate this point. Simply put, don’t delay service today!

As an example, we had a customer last Friday with a problem. Unfortunately, the oven had not been serviced for a few years and as we couldn’t get to them on Friday, we dispatched an engineer on Saturday. The bill for an out-of-hours call out an unwelcome £500. A problem with the steam hose and subsequently the drain hose affected the cleanjet pump. This expensive crisis could have easily been averted with a service, which would have pinpointed any problem with the steam hose.

Don’t Delay Service Today

Helen Hagger, MD of ACS offers some friendly advice. “Even though some ovens may still be in warranty, you should still organise a twice-yearly service because we know from experience that a lot can go wrong in six months,” she explains. “We often see where one small thing goes wrong, if it is not put right, it has a knock-on effect. Don’t forget that our engineers have immediate access to the majority of parts which minimises any delay. It’s all about peace of mind and pre-empting potential problems.

For further details and a no obligation quote for your Rational oven maintenance contract telephone 01454 322222 or email us today on service@acservicessouthern.co.uk.

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Published Date: 5th November 2019
Category: Blog, News, Ovens, Rational, Service plan
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15 
Jan

A Rational Year Ahead?

A Rational Year Ahead

Rational UK enjoyed a steady year in 2018 despite the ramifications, as yet unknown, of Brexit and global economic uncertainty.

The amalgamation of the Rational combi-steamers and Frima VarioCookingCenter® units under the umbrella Rational brand has successfully operated for almost a year. It has done what it promised by providing a complete solution for kitchen requirements from a single, reliable and reputable source. Everyone involved in the merger has applauded its successful and seamless implementation.

On Tour

In the meantime, Rational UK is continuing its physical presence across the country with many shows and exhibitions already booked for 2019.

Locations include The Professional Kitchen Show at the NEC Birmingham in January; the Source Show in Exeter in February; and Expowest in Cornwall in May. Rational UK will also be exhibiting at the Restaurant Show and the Takeaway Expo in London later in the year. It’s always good to stop by the stand and find out what’s new for Rational UK.

Brexit

As with industry as a whole, Rational UK’s future plans will be influenced by the outcome of Brexit. As an authorised Spares Partner at AC Services, we are keeping a wary eye on what might be impacted when the March deadline arrives. Currently some parts are guaranteed to be shipped from Germany within 24 hours. But whether this will change post-Brexit remains to be seen. And if it does what that will stretch to in the short term is anybody’s guess. We are committed to trying to maintain our current high spares supply levels.

To avoid post-March delay and to help us gauge the increased stock levels needed, we recommend that services are booked now. We can then create suitable buffer stocks of high-demand items to continue to offer our customary seamless service to all our customers. In addition, we’ll know what has been replaced recently in our customers’ units and what might need replacing later in the year. We can include this in our stock calculations to minimise disruption.

AC Services Team Update

On a more personal level, we are happy to report an excellent 2018. Our personnel are key to our continuing growth. Denise returned last year after ten years to the role as Service Administrator. Carolyn has been in her role as Accounts Administrator for a year. Kelly returned from Maternity Leave last year.

At our Christmas Party held at the Egypt Mill, Nailsworth we celebrated Senior Engineer Jon working for AC Services for 20 years. Helen said “20 years’ service is a remarkable achievement in most industries. But particularly amongst catering business that have seen significant change over that time. I’m glad we have Jon’s professionalism, experience and dedication to rely on”

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Published Date: 15th January 2019
Category: Blog, Catering Business, News, Ovens, Rational
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11 
Dec

AC Services Christmas Opening Times

AC Services Christmas Opening Times 2018So the big day is not far away, for which the country stocks up on totally unnecessary items for the festive period just in case they are needed. It’s amazing what you find on your shelves in February.

But rejoice, it’s at least another year before we hear those dreaded words again – Black Friday – and to put it in a political context, it’s only two more Brexit ministers till Christmas.

Shops have initiated Operation Santa Claus Frenzy and kids are busy writing lists using the Argos catalogue as a template.

If you followed my advice, you will have ordered the necessary cleaning accessories and booked to have your oven checked over before the holidays begin. If you haven’t, then get on to it today. Put it on that list! For those who live by the chaos theory, although the offices are closed on the key dates, we will still have engineers on call on the days in between because we know that sometimes bad things happen at the worst possible time. But just in case you are in any doubt, see below for clarification of our Christmas working hours.

AC Services Christmas Opening Times 2018

Here are AC Services Christmas opening times for 2018:

  • Thursday 20th December – normal opening hours – 8.15 a.m. to 5.15 p.m
  • Friday 21st December – normal opening hours – 8.15 a.m. to 5.15 p.m
  • Saturday 22nd December – office closed – Engineer on call for emergencies
  • Sunday 23rd December – office closed – Engineer on call for emergencies
  • Monday 24th December – Christmas Eve – office open – 8.15am to 3 p.m
  • Tuesday 25th December – Christmas Day, CLOSED
  • Wednesday 26th December – Boxing Day, CLOSED
  • Thursday 27th December – office open 8.30 a.m. – 5 p.m. (engineers available)
  • Friday 28th December – office open 8.30 a.m. – 5 p.m. (engineers available)
  • Saturday 29th December – office closed – Engineer on call for emergencies
  • Sunday 30th December – office closed – Engineer on call for emergencies
  • Monday 31st December – office open – 8.30am to 3 p.m
  • Tuesday 1st January – CLOSED

It’s back to normal working hours on Wednesday 2nd January.

If you have an emergency with your appliance telephone 01454 322222 and press the appropriate option so we can help you as quickly as we can. If you have a non-urgent issue, leave a message for when the office is next open.

LAST CHANCE

Importantly, don’t forget to order stock parts and cleaning products. The VERY LAST DATE for guaranteed Christmas delivery for an order to be placed is Wednesday 19th December at 5 p.m. We recommend that you CHECK your stock now, to make sure that you have everything you need.

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Published Date: 11th December 2018
Category: Blog, Cleaning Products, News, Ovens, Rational, Service plan
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13 
Nov

Christmas Catastrophe or Planned Perfection

AC Services keeping chefs using Rational ovens happyThe countdown is on. We’ve had Halloween and Armistice Day, not to mention a mid-term election in America plus a spate of excellent TV dramas, so now thoughts turn to the Christmas season.

When does the party season start for you? And when does it finish? New Year’s Day? What’s on all the menus? Turkey? Goose? Beef? Vegan platters? These are all pressing decisions! And let’s not forget the most important one – is your Rational oven Christmas-ready?

For those in catering, the oven is the most important gift over the festive season. If it breaks down, no amount of batteries or prayers will put it right. And few will be willing to sacrifice their own Christmas spirit to rush over to fix it.

There you have it, best case scenario – Christmas dinner ruined. Worst case scenario – frustrated and angry diners, potential court cases and an establishment with a very bad reputation. For restaurants and eateries who are planning to serve sumptuous banquets on and before the day, this could be catastrophic.

There is a solution: get your oven serviced now. Don’t wait for December, call AC Services (Southern) and avoid any last minute rush. We can guarantee that up until Christmas Eve, our engineers will be working flat out to cope with the inevitable panicked last minute rush!

Moreover, why not consider setting up a regular contract so that you can have peace of mind that your oven is looked after all year round? We have a number of options that suit both budget and business.

Value for money

What will you get for your money? Typically engineers will sort any of those annoying little faults that can compromise performance, if left unchecked. We keep our vans fully stocked so we can deliver a fix on the first visit in more than 95% of call-outs whilst we are with you.

Servicing comprises:

  • function testing and commissioning of elements
  • checking the operational mode of water, gas and electrical connections
  • testing electrical components, gas specific parts and steam generation.

You don’t even have to fret about forgetting the date of your scheduled Rational oven service. Every customer who gets their oven serviced will be issued with a reminder the month before it is due next year. So there’s no reason for you to conveniently forget!

Order Now

Finally, make sure that you have plenty of oven cleaning materials in stock. Rational Self-Cooking-Centers have automatic cleaning programmes built into their software. When used with the right cleaning materials you get cosmetic and hygienic cleanliness.

Be prepared and make sure your Rational oven is in working order for Christmas service. Call us now and we can calmly talk you through the options available on 01454 322 222. Then you’ll have peace of mind that the Christmas season will go ahead as planned.

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Published Date: 13th November 2018
Category: Blog, Catering Business, Cleaning, Ovens, Rational, Self Cooking Centre, Service plan
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