Category Archives: Self Cooking Centre


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.


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


Published Date: 13th June 2017
Category: Blog, Catering Business, News, Ovens, Rational, Self Cooking Centre
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Rational Launches SelfCookingCenter XS

SelfCookingCenter XS launchUnder the motto of “Ideas change the world” and true to its slogan of offering maximum customer benefit, RATIONAL AG presented its new SelfCookingCenter XS on 1st September, at Twickenham to a packed audience, including a team from AC Services Southern.

This was the world premiere for the smallest-ever Rational unit: the SelfCookingCenter XS. It offers full Rational power and intelligence and integrated fresh steam generator despite its minimal dimensions of only 55.5 cm deep, 65.5 cm wide and 56.7 cm high.

Our units impress with their performance and precision, and together with the benefits of the fresh steam generator, Rational represents top food quality and we make no compromises in this regard.

We are therefore very proud to have developed, together with our physicists, engineers and chefs, a SelfCookingCenter of this size, which not only supplements our successful range of units, but which will occupy a class of its own within the market,” says Götz Sauer, Executive Vice President, Rational AG.

The SelfCookingCenter XS

With the SelfCookingCenter XS, RATIONAL has succeeded in expanding its already successful range with a 2/3 unit needing space of only 0.2 m3. The smallest unit in the SelfCookingCenter family is in no way inferior to the larger units in terms of features and performance. This is because the SelfCookingCenter XS equipped with a fresh steam generator, has all the familiar assistants:

  • iCookingControl, the intelligent support for the chef;
  • iLevelControl, the assistant for optional mixed loading;
  • HiDensityControl, guaranteeing top food quality through maximum performance and precise regulation of cooking cabinet conditions;
  • Efficient CareControl, the automatic cleaning and descaling system.

The XS is ideally suited to use as a station unit in à la carte, in supermarkets, petrol stations, cafés and coffee shops, or indeed any situation where space is at a premium. Whether this is a built-in, wall-mounted or standalone unit, the new SelfCookingCenter XS grills, steams, pan-fry, gratinates and bakes all food gently and with perfect results. This will produce delicious snacks, take-away dishes and baked goods, as well as healthy lunchtime dishes.

The optional high-performance elegant circulating air hood matches any design and application to ensure visual integration. A full range of two thirds size cooking accessories provides optimal support for the preparation of all types of foods. These include:

  • grilling and pizza tray;
  •  cross and stripe grill grate for grilling vegetables, steaks or fish;
  •  roasting and baking trays for bread rolls, Danish pastries, pan-fried and breaded products;
  • Multibaker, ideal for fried eggs, omelettes and hash browns.

SelfCookingCenter XS Product Highlights

The energy-efficient triple-glazed door has a cutting edge heat reflective coating to significantly reduce energy losses. Energy consumption is up to 10% lower compared to the previous model – saving costs and the environment. For cleaning, the panels are easily opened and closed, effectively preventing the usual dulling in triple glazing.

The LED lighting integrated in the door along with the interior lighting provide food-safe and extensive illumination of the food, allowing kitchen staff to visually monitor the food during cooking, as well as being attractive and appealing to customers.

The start screen has been modified and with a faster CPU, the new generation SelfCookingCenter units are even easier to operate. When in iLevelControl mode, rack signalling triggers a blinking LED to signal which rack needs to be loaded or unloaded. This provides even more support for inexperienced kitchen staff to safely and quickly unload finished food.

For those interested in seeing the SelfCookingCenter XS for themselves contact RATIONAL UK by phoning 01582 480388 to enquire about dates of their free events or book directly on

AC Services Southern’s View

Helen Hagger MD, AC Services Southern commented “As a RATIONAL Service Partner of many years, we look forward to helping install and service these smaller Rational ovens and the new generation of larger units.

From our clients across South West England and Southern Wales we know the SelfCookingCenter XS is precisely what is needed in kitchens and food preparation areas, where space is tight

Rational XS launch


Published Date: 6th September 2016
Category: Blog, Catering Business, News, Rational, Self Cooking Centre
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Rational UK in the News

Rational UK, Subsidiary of 2015Rational UK has been awarded Subsidiary of the Year by its parent company, Rational AG with the best sales growth of all the global subsidiaries. Understandably, this award has been received with pride but not necessarily surprise, by Lee Norton, MD of Rational UK.

It is extremely gratifying to be recognised as having the best sales growth over other much larger countries, such as China, Russia and the US,” he comments. “But we have worked hard in the UK over the past few years and this award confirms that.

This hard work is borne out by the current 70% market share in combi steamers in the UK, which represents a year-on-year increase, and, over the last three years, a rise from a 55% market share. This is higher than the overall global market share of 54%.

Mr Norton explains also that the number of the distributors buying 10 units or more has grown , “Our dealers sales performance has increased by 53%,” he continues. “And we are very selective, choosing our dealers based on their business model.

Focus on the Customer

He puts the company’s success down to focusing on the needs of the market and most importantly, the individual requirements of the customer. “We adapt to the customer: a chef in a large restaurant will have different requirements to a cook in a small kitchen, and because we are aware of the difference, we can supply the correct solution.

It’s not just in-house where Rational UK is rewarded. Beating all other competition, the company also won Restaurant magazine’s Chef Choice Award for Best Equipment. Being recognised by the industry, those with first-hand experience of using the equipment on a daily basis, is something of which Mr. Norton is particularly proud. “The future will be more of the same: we will continue to build on relationships with distributors and our customers”.

Rational Combi Steamer

What makes the Rational combi steamer so special? This professional cooking appliance is mainly used in restaurants, hotels, industrial kitchens, catering operations, the foodservice industry, and industry catering.

The SelfCookingCenter 5 Senses is the only intelligent combi steamer in the market, providing the user with practically unlimited possibilities. In conjunction with the right accessory, up to 95% of the foods produced in professional and industrial kitchens can be prepared without any problem.

Whether steaming, blanching, grilling, braising, baking, or roasting, the Rational SelfCookingCenter 5 Senses combi steamer enables all cooking methods which can be used individually, successively, or combined in just one appliance.

Our Congratulations

AC Services (Southern) offers its congratulations to Rational UK for its award-winning product and service offerings. As a long-term service partner of the Rational oven and appliance range, we are delighted to be associated with a company that continues to expand and improve year on year.


Published Date: 27th January 2015
Category: Blog, News, Rational, Self Cooking Centre



With Rational and then there were five

Rational SelfCookingCenter 5 sensesThey say there are seven ages of man. Well, now Rational has gone one better and created five senses of oven. The company launched its new SelfCookingCenter® 5 Senses earlier this year and since then, it has been going down a storm with those in the catering industry.

The product is the first intelligent commercial cooking appliance that actually interacts with chefs, combining five unique elements: sense, recognition, thought, learning and communication. Combine those together and the perfect cooking appliance is born.

Clever Cooking

The SelfCookingCenter® 5 Senses has the ability to sense current cooking conditions and food consistency. It recognises the size, load quantity and product condition and has the capacity to calculate the browning requirements. The appliance then thinks ahead to calculate the ideal cooking path, having learnt the chef’s preferred cooking habits. Finally, it communicates with you. Forget the reference to man at the beginning, this seems a far better option!

If you want to see it in action, then head to the NEC in Birmingham for GLEE 2014, 14th-16th September, where this innovation will be in full action. By actually interacting with chefs, the best possible cooking results can be achieved, thanks to the interactive cooking control (iCookingControl) technology at the core of the combi. If you want to see this explained in detail, simply visit the Rational website.

It is multifunctional too, having the capacity to perform a multitude of tasks, which means it is also space saving: a SelfCookingCenter® can replace 40 to 50% of standard appliances. And to ice the cake and cherry the top as they say, it’s self cleaning. The appliance has an upgraded automatic cleaning system, called Efficient CareControl that uses reformulated cleaning tablets that last 50% longer than previous versions.

Free upgrade

What more could you expect from a company that has been perfecting combi-steaming methods since 1976? Well actually, how about a free upgrade?

Rational is offering whitefficiency owners a free 5 Senses software upgrade via a USB stick to all those who have purchased a SelfCookingCentre whitefficiency. Lee Norton, managing director of Rational UK, says,

Here at Rational, we’re so excited about the new 5 Senses technology that we wanted to make sure that our whitefficiency customers didn’t miss out. By offering the free upgrade we are underlining our total commitment to customer care and satisfaction.

So that’s intelligence, thoughtfulness, sense, recognition, learning, communication and a self cleaning capacity. Now if only Rational did man…!


Published Date: 2nd September 2014
Category: Blog, News, Ovens, Rational, Self Cooking Centre
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Don’t Cut Costs on Rational Oven Installing & Risk Your Reputation

It always surprises us how many pubs, restaurants and catering businesses, who care passionately about the food they serve, and go to great lengths to source the very best ingredients they can, will take the most surprising shortcuts when investing in new equipment. Take Rational ovens, for example. Probably the best professional oven a chef could buy – and certainly a major capital investment which requires kitchen owners to plan ahead when making this major purchase.

And it’s not just a matter of safety. A Rational oven, indeed any professional oven that has not been installed correctly, could bring your kitchen to a halt at any time.

Installing a professional oven is not just a matter of checking to see if it fits and shoe-horning it in as you would a home cooker. Rational ovens, for example, are designed to meet very exacting national and international energy, water and safety standards and many of these are conditional upon the installation being carried out to the manufacturer’s specification.

If you are thinking of investing in a Rational oven, your first step should be to attend one of Rational’s CookingLive demonstrations – these are held regularly throughout the country and you will get to see exactly what one of Rational’s latest SelfCookingCenter® whitefficiency® ovens can do in the hands of one of Rational’s Master chefs.

There’s another good reason for attending. Rational is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year and is giving away a SelfCookingCenter® worth £8,000 to one lucky person who attends CookingLive demonstrations before November 30th. Click the Rational’s CookingLive demonstrations link to find the one nearest you.

If you’ve decided to invest, then the Rational Development Chef will put you in contact with a Rational dealer who will arrange for your nearest Rational Service Partner (AC Services if you are based in the South, South West England or South Wales) to carry out a site survey.

We will not only look at where the oven can be fitted but also check the access to make sure you can get it there in the first place. We will review electricity, gas and water and waste as well as the optimum space requirements for the oven – bearing in mind that it has to be accessible for maintenance. Ventilation is also vitally important and just as tightly controlled by regulations.

Once the survey is complete, we will liaise with you and your supplier to co-ordinate the delivery and installation and, once it’s all up and running, we’ll even take you through a product familiarisation session so you can start using your new Rational oven straight away.


Published Date: 21st August 2013
Category: Blog, News, Ovens, Rational, Self Cooking Centre, White Efficiency



The Pudding Club- like a medieval banquet with custard

If your dining-out days go back to the 80s, you’ll remember the sweet trolley; always full of promise but so often a bitter disappointment. Restaurateurs copped out of adding daily delights to the menu and instead delivered a gilded trolley to your table creaking with exotic names – most straight from the freezer. New York Cheesecake, Tiramisu, Black Forest Gateau, Mississippi Mud Pie, fruit salad and those awful stringy oranges swimming in a brandy-flavoured soup. I blame the sweet trolley for my dislike of all those puds, which I am sure taste wonderful in Manhattan or Milan.


What the sweet trolley had done was to run the traditional English pud out of town. And when Keith and Jean Turner, who ran the Three Ways House Hotel at Mickleton in the Cotswolds, realised what was happening they started something that was to become a world-wide phenomenon. In the winter of 1985, they held the inaugural meeting of the Pudding Club. Thirty passionate and pioneering pudding eaters enjoyed a light main course, no starter and no bread, and then feasted on no less than seven fine traditional puds such as Jam Roly Poly, Syrup Sponge, Spotted Dick and Bread and Butter Pudding.

Over the years that followed, the Pudding Club gained some local notoriety but it wasn’t until Jill and Simon Coombe took over the hotel nearly 17 years ago, that they began to spread the word (and the custard) with missionary zeal – taking the Pudding Club to the four corners of the world. They travelled to Japan and the Americas, published pudding recipes and even campaigned for Spotted Dick when Tesco tried to change the name to Richard. No surprise they attracted comments – “Like making love in a thunderstorm”, “It’s like a medieval banquet with custard”. It has even been described as “The eighth wonder of the world”.


Today the award-winning Three Ways House Hotel hosts a Pudding Club Meeting every Friday night (and sometimes on a Saturday too.) Self appointed Chief Pudding Taster, Simon describes these occasions as “fun, relaxed but indulgent evenings”. The format remains the same as in 1985. No starter, a light main course and seven glorious puddings washed down with lashings of syrup and custard. At the end of the evening the members vote for their “Pudding of the Night”.

And, to continue the pudding theme, if too much Roly Poly has made you a trifle lethargic, you could always book into one of their famous and exquisitely decorated pudding rooms – Sticky Toffee, Oriental Ginger, Syrup Sponge, Summer Pudding, Lord Randall’s, The Chocolate Suite or Spotted Dick and Custard.

Just in case you’re wondering if we have gone off our sweet trolley, the reason I mention Jill, Simon and the Pudding Club is that they, of course, use a Rational oven, which is serviced and maintained on contract with AC Services and has been since it was installed four years ago.


The oven is a ten grid Self Cooking Center and lies at the heart of their kitchen. The majority of the puddings are steamed in a traditional way, but most of the other dishes from the a la carte and brasserie menus are cooked in the Rational oven – breakfast, lunch and dinner. With 48 bedrooms, and up to 100 residents, the hotel may serve up to 150 covers on a busy night across its main restaurant, the Randalls Bar Brasserie and the Pudding Club itself.

We need to use the latest technology to improve our service, drive down our costs and make working conditions as good as we can for our 60 staff,” said Simon.

The oven is part of our investment behind the scenes of the hotel. It was an expensive piece of equipment that is used very heavily and we don’t want it standing idle because of some failure that could have been avoided. It made absolute sense to take out a Gold Maintenance Contract with AC Services. They have good engineers and we have had no major issues considering the use it gets.”


Published Date: 16th July 2013
Category: Blog, News, Rational, Self Cooking Centre, Service plan



Mass Catering with Fine Dining Cooking Standards

Mass Catering OvenMass catering doesn’t automatically have to mean the type of cooking that many people associate with canteen style cuisine. Before we get tons of comments from disgruntled canteen chefs, we’d better elaborate that that’s not supposed to infer that canteens cook badly. But they do tend to get put under a lot of pressure to serve food in bulk quantities, and things like al dente pasta and vegetables, and the quality of presentation can, and often do, suffer.

Technology Marches On
We all remember the jokes we used to make about mass catering and school dinners in particular, (and we expect they’re still being made). But things have moved on big time in terms of kitchen equipment in the past 2 or 3 decades. Technology now exists that allows mass catering and fine dining to go hand in hand. So if your dream business is to serve top quality cooking to a discerning audience, such as a large group of wedding reception guests for example, you can compete for cooking quality with some of the top restaurants in the country. Continue reading


Published Date: 21st January 2013
Category: News, Rational, Self Cooking Centre, White Efficiency
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Did your wish at Christmas for a new Rational oven come true?

Rational ovensIf not, then for 2013 make it your New Year’s Resolution to buy a Rational SCC White Efficiency or a Rational Combimaster Plus Oven.

Not sure what oven size you need or what model is right for you?

Then your first choice is to visit the Hospitality Show on the 21 – 23 January at the NEC Birmingham, where Rational UK have a stand and will be able to discuss your requirements and demonstrate the SCC White Efficiencies capabilities to help you decide what you need from your most important investment in 2013. For details on the Show visit the website. Continue reading


Published Date: 9th January 2013
Category: News, Ovens, Rational, Self Cooking Centre
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Rational whitefficiency® SelfCookingCenter® – Top Choice for Schools, Colleges and Universities

The Rational whitefficiency® SelfCookingCenter® epitomises modern catering. But it was only about 20 to 30 years ago that when you thought about food in the education sector, the horror of school dinners raised its ugly head. The food was so bad that most kids would rather take home-made sandwiches.

From a Pig’s Ear to a Silk Purse
The past couple of decades have seen a wholesale change in the quality of school meals. The the same goes for cooked meals in higher education establishments including colleges and universities. The reason? – Technology has marched on. The quality and performance of commercial ovens has come on by leaps and bounds – literally turning the pig’s ear into a silk purse. Take one of the top European oven manufacturers – Rational – based here in the UK, in Luton, Bedfordshire.

Automated Excellence
Rational produce the SelfCookingCenter®a range of ovens. They are so called because of their advanced automatic programming software. Also known under their trade name of whitefficiency® these ovens are capable of producing gourmet quality meals. Automation does not necessarily mean run of the mill, production line repetition. You may be surprised to know that some of the country’s best eating houses, like Raymond Blanc’s flagship restaurant Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons have Rational SelfCookingCenter® ovens in their kitchens.

So if you’re in the process of searching out the best commercial oven to buy for a school, college or university, Why choose Rational? What makes the Rational whitefficiency® SelfCookingCenter® better than the competition?

Top Reasons for Choosing a Rational whitefficiency® SelfCookingCenter®

• Reliability. Rational ovens are one of the most reliable ovens on the market. When you’re catering for schools, colleges and universities, having a reliable oven that won’t let you down is key.

• 2 year guarantee. The new Rational whitefficiency® SelfCookingCenter® ovens are sold with a no quibble 2 year guarantee. Also, if your establishment is based the South, the Southwest or in South Wales, you can appoint AC Services (Southern) to service and maintain your Rational oven thereafter. ACS are one of Rational’s top service partners with a customer service record that is the envy of the industry.

• Versatility. A new Rational SelfCookingCenter® is so versatile it’s difficult to believe. You can roast, boil, grill or steam any combination of dishes at the same time in the same oven. The range and flexibility of the programming is truly awesome.

• Health & Safety. A Rational whitefficiency® SelfCookingCenter® makes complying with health and safety, and industry regulation as simple as a stroll in the park. One of the great things about Rational’s whitefficiency® range, is that they all come with a pre-programmed, fully functional HACCP software program installed. HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) is the food industry’s bespoke regulation. A SelfCookingCentre’s programming ensures that the operational and services aspects are all correctly documented and recorded.

• Fully Automated Self Cleaning. A Rational whitefficiency® SelfCookingCenter® cleans itself. All you have to do is select the most appropriate program for how dirty the oven is. This will tell you the quantity of cleaning and care tablets that are required. Simply insert them into the correct places in the oven, and shut the door. The program will then run overnight, providing the most hygienic clean at the flick of a switch. AC Services (Southern) stock the necessary cleaning products. Another good reason for appointing them as your service partner.

The Time is Right
It’s that time of year again – when schools hold their open evenings – a time looked forward to by both pupils and parents alike. Well most of them anyway. It’s an opportune time to decide on the brand and model of that new oven. And with Christmas fast approaching, (the TV adverts are already priming us), what more could you wish for than a brand new Rational whitefficiency® SelfCookingCenter® in which to cook all that wonderful festive season food? Why not drop in on Rational’s website and find out more about whitefficiency®?


Published Date: 23rd October 2012
Category: News, Ovens, Rational, Self Cooking Centre, White Efficiency
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