Category Archives: Self Cooking Centre
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Under 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 www.rational-online.com.
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 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.
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.
They 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.
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.
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…!
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.
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.”