Category Archives: Rational

13 
Jun

The Catering Equipment Show 2017

Catering Equipment ShowThe NEC at Birmingham played host to the Catering Equipment Show last week from 5-6 June.

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.

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Published Date: 13th June 2017
Category: Blog, Catering Business, News, Ovens, Rational, Self Cooking Centre
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30 
May

Care Home Crisis Continues

Care home cateringThe care home sector is hitting the headlines at the moment with the run-up to the election. Focus is on the over-65s with care needs, which is set to rise by a quarter by 2025. This will mean 2.8 million people in England and Wales requiring help and care. 

There is a worry that due to the shortage of care workers and the poor state of social care, the impact on people on lower incomes unable to live independently will increase.

Professor Eric Brunner of UCL says: “We find that ageing of the population in the next 10 years will cause an increase in burden of disability that we must not ignore.”

Dementia is currently the biggest growing cause of disability and rates are predicted to increase by 49% in over-65s between 2015-2025. This means that 700,000 people will have dementia care needs in 2025. This is a rise of 231,000, when compared to 2015. The second largest cause are mental health problems, diabetes, musculoskeletal disorders and other chronic diseases. These will increase by 37% over the decade.

Investment Needed

A study in the Lancet suggested that more investment is needed in health and social care. One of the areas that was highlighted was the need to tackle poor diet. Lead author Dr Maria Guzman-Castillo from the University of Liverpool said: “Spending on long-term care will need to increase considerably by 2025, which has serious implications for a cash-strapped and overburdened NHS and an under-resourced social care system.

However, those involved in the care home sector have already raised standards when it comes to food and nutrition. The National Association of Care Catering (NACC) have been running a competition for many years to find The NACC Care Chef of the Year . This year’s final is held on 7th June at Barking & Dagenham College. Sponsored by the Worshipful Company of Cooks and Premier Foods, the NACC Care Chef of the Year competition highlights the care catering sector and the talent of the numerous chefs operating within it.

Zone In to Care Homes

June will also see the launch of Health+Care’s new Catering & Nutritional Zone in association with the National Association of Care Catering. Taking place at London’s ExCeL on Wednesday 28th and Thursday 29th June 2017, Health+Care expects nearly 5,000 senior care professionals over two days for a seminar on ideas, sourcing and networking opportunities.

The Catering & Nutrition Zone at Health+Care is aimed at helping care business managers, directors and owners to “increase catering standards, share best practice and network with chefs and catering creatives”. Key issues that will be addressed across the two days include hydration, nutrition, procurement, dysphagia, menu planning, mental health residents and hygiene.

Neel Radia, national chair of the NACC, said: “The NACC is committed to sharing information, insight and guidance with care providers across the UK to ensure that catering within the sector reaches the highest standards possible and meets the specific needs of the elderly and vulnerable served. Education and training is crucial in achieving this, as is the exchange of ideas and best practice between care professionals.”

AC Services (Southern) maintains many Rational appliances in the care home sector around the country. We recommend Rational to other similar establishments that are looking for reliability, performance and quality with their cooking requirements.

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Published Date: 30th May 2017
Category: Blog, Catering Business, News, Rational
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16 
May

Cruise Control Service

Meamina Rational oven serviceSometimes 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

Rational cook stationHelen 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.”

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Published Date: 16th May 2017
Category: Blog, Case Study, News, Ovens, Rational
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11 
Apr

Money for School Meals?

School meals fundingThere 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.

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Published Date: 11th April 2017
Category: Blog, Catering Business, News, Ovens, Rational
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04 
Apr

What’s Happening at AC Services Southern

AC Services Southern 's new vanWe spend a lot of time here at AC Services Southern talking about current events and our customers so we decided to update you about our team. The last year has been extremely busy with innovations and new schemes introduced on both professional and personal levels.

Firstly, we purchased another new van. The old one served its purpose well but was frankly getting too small for the expanded range of stock that our engineers have to carry. This is due mainly to the launch of new Rational ovens, which inevitably leads to extra parts. Because these new ovens are so new and made by Rational, there is not much likelihood of unreliability. But we like to be prepared just in case, which is why the extra stock parts need to be on hand should the occasion arise.

Helping You, Helping Us

Secondly, we have inaugurated our new proactive service scheme. This has been introduced as a part of our extended customer service. The office will make a courtesy call to those who have had appliances serviced within the last 12 months as it approaches the year anniversary. This timely reminder helps in two ways: it spreads and compartmentalises the AC Services Southern’s workload and it minimises the risk of clients calling us out as an emergency or at the last minute.

There are also fewer staff currently in the office. Kelly is on maternity leave until October and you will be delighted to hear that both mother and daughter doing fine. We are eagerly awaiting the first visit of the baby to the offices. Vicky’s duties have been undertaken by Sian Vaulters in AC Services Southern Accounts Department. A trained book-keeper with a career in admin and support, she relished the chance to have a job closer to home in Yate as this allows her to walk to work. Our MD Helen Hagger has also been stepping into the breach more frequently, helping to maintain the high response times and quality of service that has never wavered.

Slim and Trim

On a personal level, the office has been trimming down. There are numerous members of staff who have embarked upon a health, fitness and slimming regime. Dave and Helen have been battling it out to see who can lose the first stone, a victory claimed by Helen with Dave not far behind. Helen has taken a leaf out of Sian’s book and has undertaken the walk to work, when she does not have to deliver parts out to engineers in the field or go to other appointments.

While we’re on fitness it was great to see the honours equally split with the Boat Races at the weekend. We have a number of clients in the Oxford Colleges and despite having a daughter at Cambridge, who is also a rower, Helen managed to put aside her maternal loyalty in support of Oxford in the men’s races.

So in conclusion, we are delighted to report that all is well in AC Services Southern and we are continuing to thrive. We look forward to the unknown challenges that face the catering business within the next few months.

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Published Date: 4th April 2017
Category: Blog, News, Rational
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17 
Jan

Rational UK Frima Developments

Simon Lohse MD Rational UK & FrimaFrom 23rd to 25th January 2017 RATIONAL UK will be exhibiting at the Great Hospitality Show at the NEC in Birmingham.

As usual it is a great opportunity to see what’s new and to meet the RATIONAL Head Office Team led by MD Simon Lohse pictured left.

1973 and all that…

Since 1973 RATIONAL has secured successful  relationships with many countries around the world. The group is the world market and technology leader in the field of hot food preparation for professional kitchens, employing more than 850 people in Germany and a total of over 1,600 worldwide.

RATIONAL has been listed in the Prime Standard of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange since its IPO in 2000, and is currently included in the MDAX.

According to RATIONAL UK’s managing director, Simon Lohse, the new relationship being unveiled now is about to improve customer benefits for both RATIONAL and its sister company FRIMA.

From January 1 2017, FRIMA activities will be integrated in the local RATIONAL organisation enabling faster penetration of the market and offering existing customers more comprehensive after sales services and local partners better support locally for the FRIMA products.

Says Mr. Lohse, “this is an exciting change taking place within the RATIONAL group joining together two leading and knowledgeable expert sales teams, delivering maximum customer benefit to our partners.

Frima relationship

FRIMA is part of the RATIONAL Group and with more than 22,000 units installed in Europe alone; it is the undisputed market leader in multifunctional cooking equipment. Its patents include the VarioCooking Center® which is already on an exemplary road to success in the UK due to its unique customer benefits. Energy savings of up to 40% compared to conventional technology can be achieved thanks to the patented heating technology and the built-in cooking intelligence.

Under the new arrangement, specialised sales staff for RATIONAL and FRIMA will have joint access to the local RATIONAL support functions such as application consulting, technical service and customer service. For customers and partners, there will be competent local points of contact for both segments of the RATIONAL Group without any change to the market presence.

At AC Services, we are delighted with the new arrangement which consolidates RATIONAL’s intention to provide the highest level of customer care across the board. MD, Helen Hagger is confident of the move.

It goes to show that despite uncertainty about domestic economic, some organisations such as Rational and Frima have proven that intelligent partnerships can be achieved successfully and to the benefit of the economy as a whole,” she comments.

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Published Date: 17th January 2017
Category: Blog, News, Rational
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20 
Dec

2016 Highlights and Lowlights!

2016 Highlights2016 will certainly go down in history as one of the most bizarre 12 months that we have witnessed in decades.

Perhaps the most notable effect is the loss of so many celebrities. Just as we reeled from the loss of David Bowie in January came the shock of Alan Rickman.

Followed throughout the year by Victoria Wood, Terry Wogan, Prince, Denise Robertson, Kenny Baker, Leonard Cohen, Andrew Sachs, Peter Vaughan, Robert Vaughn, Pete Burns, Caroline Aherne, AA Gill, Ronnie Corbett, Muhammad Ali and sadly many more.

Politics

But the world was hit by other shocks throughout the year, with turmoil and scandal in politics. Britain left Europe via a democratic referendum. Which immediately prompted calls for another vote by those who didn’t accept the verdict of the first. It also led to the resignations of the prime minister, the leader of UKIP and Boris Johnson. Interestingly, more people googled Brexit after the referendum than before.

However, the backlash over Brexit soon paled into insignificance. As America took to the polls and we watched in growing disbelief as the new president was announced, a candidate with no previous political experience. His plans to seal off the United States from immigrants and build a rather large wall separating the US from Mexico are ambitious and yet to be confirmed.

Sport

In sport, Leicester City proved the theory of David and Goliath by winning the premiership. The majority of Russian athletes were banned from international competition thanks to a government-run drug campaign.

Rio hosted the Olympics and we saw world records smashed in track, pool and velodrome events. Double doubles and triple triples were finally achieved by Mo Farrah and Usain Bolt respectively. Although the stadiums were half full, the Games were heralded a success.

Show-business

In show business, Cheryl hooked up with a lad from One Direction and allegedly is making babies. Angelina Jolie who has a lot of babies with Brad Pitt decided she didn’t really like him after all. Jennifer Aniston maintained a very dignified silence when the news of the split was revealed although we suspect the word karma hovered on her lips.

David Attenborough’s Planet Earth II drew in more young viewers than the X Factor, proving that as far as reality shows go, he is king. And Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize for Literature but he wasn’t unduly impressed.

And on to 2017

As 2016 draws to an end, the only thing left for us at AC Services (Southern) is to wish our loyal customers and others in catering businesses a very merry Christmas. And best wishes for a prosperous and profitable New Year.

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Published Date: 20th December 2016
Category: Blog, Catering Business, News, Rational
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13 
Dec

Christmas 2016 opening hours

AC Services Christmas 2016 Opening HoursIt has been a long and strange year and here at AC Services (Southern) we are looking forward to the Christmas 2016 festivities and spending some quality time with friends and families.

We haven’t forgotten you: although we are having some time off, we are still working both in and out of the office before the holidays begin.

Here are AC Services Christmas 2016 opening times:

  • Wednesday 21st December – normal opening hours – 8.30am to 5pm
  • Thursday 22nd December – normal opening hours
  • Friday 23rd December – normal opening hours
  • Saturday 24th December – office closed
  • Sunday 25th December – if you’ve done the wise thing and had your appliances checked, then the day should go without a hitch as we are closed!
  • Monday 26th December – another day off for us leafing through the cookery books for leftover turkey recipes.
  • Tuesday 27th December – office closed, engineer on call
  • Wednesday 28th December – and we’re all back normal opening hours 8.30-5.00
  • Thursday 29th December – normal opening hours
  • Friday 30th December – normal opening hours
  • Saturday 31st December – takeaways will be doing a roaring trade. Office is closed , engineer on call
  • 1st January – closed.
  • 2nd January- office closed, engineer on call

It’s back to normal working hours on Tuesday 3rd January for the new year.

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. Please be aware there is no on call service on Christmas Day, Boxing Day or New Year’s Day. If you have a non-urgent issue, by all means leave a message for when the office is next open.

REMEMBER Check cleaning stock now

For stock parts and cleaning products, the last date for guaranteed Christmas 2016 delivery for an order to be placed is Wednesday 21st December at 12 noon. We recommend that you CHECK your stock now, to make sure that you have everything you need. Leave nothing to chance!

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Published Date: 13th December 2016
Category: Blog, Catering Business, News, Rational
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15 
Nov

Rational Oven Cleaning Products Sale

One week Rational Oven cleaning products winter saleThere have been a few changes in the world in the past few weeks, some good, some worrying, some downright outrageous. Toblerone restyled falls into the latter category. Pre-Christmas sales are firmly in the good category, we all love a sale and particularly just before the festive season hits with full force.

AC Services (Southern) is entering into the spirit as it does every year and is repeating last year’s ONE WEEK ONLY sale on its cleaning products for the Rational oven range. It’s a simple concept: order any cleaning product (excluding water filters) and get 10% off at the checkout using the voucher code clean16.

Last year, the offer was warmly and eagerly received by customers. It was a timely and cost-effective reminder for caterers and kitchen owners to stock up on products before the seasonal rush.

As Helen Hagger, MD of AC Services explains, customers often don’t realise that they are running low or forget to order in time. “We want to encourage people to be organised and stocked up with their cleaning requirements in advance,” she says. “Paying by debit card on the website using the voucher code takes just minutes! We intend this to become an annual pre-Christmas event where our customers can also book a service if they need it.”

Rational Cleaning Products

AC Services provides a full range of Rational oven cleaning products targeted at ensuring long-term care as a key to lifetime performance. Remember, if you have more than one oven, then you may need different cleaning product combinations.

The range includes:

  • Rational Oven Cleaner Tab (x100): highly concentrated tablets specially developed with a new 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, giving reliability without a water softener and the need for time-consuming descaling.
  • Rational Rinse Tablets (x50) highly effective care products ensuring active protection.
  • Rational Grill Cleaner (10 litres) for use with a hand spray gun.
  • Rational Rinse Aid (10 litres).

For water filtration, which is not in the sale, the products are either the Brita Purity 1200 Quell ST Filter Cartridge or the Brita Purity 600 Quell ST Filter Cartridge.

Daily Tasks

There are some simple tasks that can be carried out on a daily basis to ensure optimum performance of Rational ovens. We urge customers to introduce them into their daily routine.

  1.  Avoid downtime by cleaning your appliance every day with the relevant Rational Oven Cleaning Products so that the high quality of stainless steel is maintained for hygiene reasons.
  2. Wipe down the door gasket at least daily with non-abrasive cleaning agents.
  3. Clean the drip tray collector.
  4. Check the air filter regularly: your appliance will let you know when the air filter needs cleaning. On table top units the customer can clean this themselves in the dishwasher; on floor units, AC Services will need to replace it.
  5. Apply vegetable oil or grease to the inside of the cooking cabinet at regular intervals (every two weeks or so) to prevent corrosion.

This is a ONE week sale ONLY. We know that you have lots of other things on your mind at this time of year, but this is also the time when we all forget the routine tasks like ordering your Rational oven cleaning products.

To order your Rational oven 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 and to book a service.

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Published Date: 15th November 2016
Category: Blog, Cleaning Products, News, Online Sales, Rational
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18 
Oct

Theme Parks’ End of Summer?

Theme ParksThe summer is drawing to a close and after the last half term of the year, theme parks and attractions across the UK will be closing down for the winter.

Despite the current economy, theme parks are still one of the most popular visitor attractions with new rides pushing us to the limits in terms of fear and thrills.

And figures from VisitEngland have shown that so far, the Brexit effect has been positive. Only a minority of businesses have so far seen any referendum impact and this is mainly confined to accommodation rather than attractions businesses.

The impact of leaving the EU to date is on balance positive for domestic visitors, but slightly negative for overseas visitors. What this means is that in the UK, we are still visiting attractions and still spending money.

Review Your Oven

Catering at theme parks is big business. It’s hard to gauge how many burgers and hot dogs are flipped throughout the summer months! Winter is the ideal time to review ovens and other catering appliances.

Here at AC Services, we recommend that caterers take advantage of the down time and book a full service. We can check over the ovens and run diagnostics to ensure that they are in excellent working order, ready for next season’s opening.

Diversification

Although many venues will be closing to the public, others will be embracing the seasonal festivities ahead, such as Halloween and Christmas. These events pull in thousands of attendees and for caterers, it is a busy time. Halloween is usually when the fun starts. Although with the trend for killer clowns sweeping the country, it may seem that Halloween has started earlier this year.

Many theme parks and attractions diversify and stage themed dinners and parties. To be a good caterer, you need a good oven that can handle the extra workload. So if you are struggling with your old oven, think about investing in the Rational range such as the SelfCookingCenter XS. This was only launched last month. It is the smallest-ever Rational unit which still offers full Rational power and intelligence and an integrated fresh steam generator. It is ideal for use as a station unit where space is at a premium.

Every caterer has to adapt to the seasonal load. Autumn and winter are traditionally seasons where mass catering is at a premium. Take the time now before the rush starts to check your oven and your cooking environment. If you haven’t already done so, book a service. Simply call AC Services on 01454 322222 and we will help you with our advice and expert knowledge

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Published Date: 18th October 2016
Category: Blog, Catering Business, News, Rational
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