Category Archives: Ovens
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.
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.
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”
So 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.
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.
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.
- 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!
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.
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.