Tag Archives: AC Services
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.
We all forget something at this time of year. Sometimes the little things don’t matter, like forgetting to stock up on batteries for those annoying, noisy little gadgets that relatives take great delight in buying for the younger members of the family. But if you run out of cleaning products for your appliance, then it could be very costly indeed.
You must make sure that you have equipped yourself with plenty of oven cleaning materials.
Rational Self-Cooking-Centers have automatic cleaning programmes built into their software which makes life a lot easier. When combined with the right proprietary cleaning materials from AC Services, the ovens are not just clean but hygienic. A word of warning: using non-compatible products can cause long-term damage to your oven, can invalidate any warranty and can cause all sorts of costly problems, so make sure that you buy the products from us. It’s akin to putting petrol into a diesel car.
The most important thing is not to forget to place your order for your oven cleaning materials in sufficient time. If you are a catering establishment, there are so many things to consider at Christmas: the food, the décor, the orders, the extra staff…it all mounts up.
And most people have a tendency to leave things until the last moment. When they finally do remember, or simply get around to doing it, it’s often too late. So don’t leave it to the last moment to order your cleaning materials.
Lucky for you, our online shop is a lifesaver! Our aim, as always is to maintain the highest levels of customer service and although online sales may appear simply impersonal transactions, we still want to maintain the personal touch by making it a fast and simple process. It takes no time at all to enter an order and wait for the despatch of the goods.
The On-line Rational Cleaning Range
Our cleaning products are as follows:
- Rational Oven Cleaner Tab (x100): highly concentrated tablets specially developed. A new complex set of active ingredients designed to guarantee maximum cleaning power.
- Tablets for Rational Oven Care (x150) with special scale-dissolving ingredients contained to prevent limescale building up. They give reliability without a water softener and the need for time-consuming descaling.
- Rational Rinse Tablets (x50) highly effective care products ensuring active protection.
- Rational’s Grill Cleaner (10 litres) for use with a hand spray gun.
- Rational Rinse Aid (10 litres).
To order your Rational cleaning products, simply go to our online shop or call us on 01454 322222 for more advice.
11 November 2018 marks a significant date in the history of the world. At 11 o’clock on the 11th day of the 11th month, the First World War – the Great War – ended. Germany signed the armistice prepared by Britain and France and the guns fell silent. Britain, France and all of the countries that supported them, celebrated the end of a heinous war that lasted four years and four months. Millions died, not only in battle but from the terrible living conditions they faced during that time.
Since then, the red poppy has become a symbol of peace and remembrance used since 1921 to commemorate military personnel who have died in war. It was inspired by the WWI poem In Flanders Fields then adopted by military veterans’ groups in parts of the British Empire and then throughout the world.
Lest We Forget
Remembrance Day 2018 commemorations will take on a special centenary meaning for all those involved. Across the country, beacons will be lit and special services taking place to mark the 100 years since the end of the war. Weymouth is conducting a Beacon Lighting event, known nationally as the `Battles Over’ taking place at the Nothe Fort starting at 6pm on 11 November. The event will feature performances from the Bovington Military Wives Choir and the Decadettes followed by a service and will encompass elements of the traditional Remembrance Service normally held at Holy Trinity Church.
In Wales, Gwent’s St Woolos Cathedral will host a free day of events to mark the centenary with music from the U3A choir, Newport rugby club choir, and the local Boys’ Brigade band. Re-enactments will include a World War One surgeon, a Monmouthshire Regiment infantryman, and a member of the Royal Flying Corps. Caerleon Remembers will mark the centenary with a tribute of words and music from local choirs as well as an exhibition. The concert will take place on Saturday, November 10 from 7pm at St Cadoc’s Church. 100 red poppies will also be seen on the Wales Air Ambulance (WAA) aircraft as a sign of respect.
Poppy of Honour 2018
In Wincanton, a commemorative Poppy of Honour has already been unveiled. Over 250,000 individual volunteers and businesses have joined forces to create an eight-foot steel and glass poppy-shaped sculpture, the first memorial of its kind, dedicated to the 1,117,635 British and Commonwealth service personnel, killed or declared missing in action in the war. 1,117,635 individual poppies are contained within, all labelled with the details of the men and women who died. In early 2019, the Poppy will embark on a major tour around the United Kingdom and Southern Ireland, before being displayed at the Tower of London.
And in Bristol, The Bristol Festival of Remembrance will take place at Bristol Cathedral on 10 November, presented by Terry Waite CBE. The evening begins with orchestral pieces, choral works, readings and a performance by local children, and the night will finish with a performance of Karl Jenkins’ The Peacemakers, a piece dedicated to all those who have lost their lives during armed conflict. On 11 November, also at Bristol Cathedral is Duruflé’s Requiem performed by Bristol Cathedral Choir. Admission is free.
Finally, the annual act of remembrance at Wells Cathedral this year will feature John Rutter’s Requiem, a free event taking place from 3-4pm on 11 November followed by a devotional service, interspersed with War Poetry.
Autumn is well and truly upon us. With the best summer in decades behind us, it’s now time to look forward to the Christmas season. In the South West, plenty has been going on involving the food industry. Not least the beginning of construction on the new South West food innovation centre. And elsewhere in Wales food is in the news.
Wilmott Dixon secured the £11.3 million construction contract from North Somerset Council to build the FoodWorksSW facility in Weston-super-Mare. This will provide specialist facilities and technical support and will create around 250 new jobs.
The facility is designed to provide a range of specialist facilities and technical support for food and drink manufacturers across the South West region. It will help new businesses to get started and established producers to expand. A private sector-led project advisory group is liaising with the council on the ins and outs of the food industry.
In other news, it appears that the South West is on schedule for a record breaking year of exports. Somerset exported £10.5bn worth of goods in the first half of 2018, up on the same period last year. A lot of the credit is down to the region’s food and drink sector with new businesses popping up constantly.
One of these is a new wine school for the South West. This has just been launched with the support of a trio of the region’s well known wine experts. The South West Wine School will offer WSET Level 1 and 2 courses at Kenton Park Estate in Devon from the beginning of next year. The venture aims to make learning about wine “fun and enjoyable for enthusiasts of all levels”.
Wales Food Fights Back
Wales has also been in the news recently, with an alarming statistic about the presence of fast food restaurants. It seems that in part of Wales, a staggering 73% of all restaurants are selling fast food. The culprit is Blaenau Gwent with 55 out of 75 outlets takeaway venues. According to a recent report, Wales has seen a rise of 48% in fast food outlets from 2010 to 2018. While in the UK average increase is 34%.
Based on figures from the Office of National Statistics, Wales has had 670 fast food outlets open in the past eight years. Neath Port Talbot saw its numbers more than double from 50 to 105. People are simply too busy to cook, says Professor Haboubi, chair of the Welsh Obesity Society adding, “it is not the businesses’ fault, we have a societal disease“. However, Wales is not taking this lightly, with many initiatives planned to address the issue including the opening of a new food academy.
Recipe for Success
Celebrity chef Bryn Williams launched a Wales food academy offering Coleg Cambria students the opportunity to work and train in his restaurants. Launched last week at Cambria’s Y Celstryn restaurant in Deeside, the Bryn Williams Academy is aiming to help plug the ever-increasing skills gap in catering and hospitality.
“There are so many more places to eat, so many more kitchens and restaurants… the talent pool has spread so there is a very thin layer now and that needs addressing. It’s so important we inspire the children of today to become chefs in the future because the industry has grown beyond all comprehension,” he explains.
AC Services October News
Here at AC Services we’re investigating the advantages of the Rational connected cooking function. Launched last year this is an intelligent cloud-based networked solution that enables the setting of remote cooking functions and maintenance monitoring. We’ll let those in the SW and Wales food businesses know more in 2019.
Mince pies have been spotted in the shops and some stores have already set up their Christmas stock. Light yoghurt has been removed from WeightWatchers no-sin list. The oldest cheese in the world has been found in Egypt dating back 3,200 years.
Meanwhile closer to home, it has been revealed that South West food and drink exports have reached £838m which is very good news for the region.
Unsurprisingly, seafood has been the biggest export at £176m with dairy products the second most popular at £147m. Oil seeds and oleaginous fruits, including nuts and olives, showed the largest increase of any food and drink product, up 26% to £17m. This represents an increase year on year of 8.7%.
South West Triumphs
Paul Shand, head of exports in the South West for the Department for International Trade, said: “South West food and drink producers are rapidly developing a reputation around the world for their high quality food and drink.” It goes to show that the food and drink industry is thriving and despite the uncertain economic background, people are still demanding quality food from reputable sources.
In Wales, there are also a few pats on the back with Welsh food and drink businesses triumphing in this year’s Great Taste awards, proving once again that food and drink from Wales has a deserved reputation for quality and taste. A whopping 153 products from Wales, from independent artisan producers to larger distributors, were recognised in the awards, with 110 Welsh products achieving one star, 31 getting two stars and 12 being deemed worthy of the three-stars accolade.
Described as the Oscars of the culinary world, Great Taste is organised by the Guild of Fine Food and is the acknowledged benchmark for fine food and drink. Among the winners were Forte’s Ice Cream’s mascarpone and caramelised fig ice cream and organic Zambian forest honey from Tropical Forest Products. The latter was the first company to import organic honey and beeswax from Africa, nowadays importing honey and beeswax from forest beekeepers in Zambia, Ethiopia and Cameroon. Apart from the delicious flavour, the company’s development work makes a change to the livelihoods of beekeepers and their families, and ensures the continued protection of the forest by the local communities who benefit from them.
Forte’s finds the purest and finest ingredients in the world and use them to produce the best ice cream, sorbet and frozen yoghurt available. This has led to the creation of over 35 flavours of ice creams, sorbets and frozen yoghurts all made with fresh milk, double cream and only the finest ingredients.
Finally, a Somerset restaurant has been named the best in the whole of the South West, a nice surprise for the restaurant during its 25th year. The New Farm Restaurant in South Petherton stormed to two major awards: Best South West Restaurant and No 1 Place to Go – the latter being the biggest award of the night.
John Sheaves, chief executive of organisers, Taste of the West, said: “We are absolutely delighted with the response from the South West’s food and drink industry to our awards programme this year. These awards underpin our core values and strengthen our regional brand, a brand which is attracting considerable interest from new markets.”
Tradition states that local resources offered a diet to Wiltshire pigs that gave their flesh special flavour. This is supposed to be acorns from the plentiful oak forests nearby or imported molasses.
In its heyday, Wiltshire in the 19th century had a far superior cheese-making heritage than Somerset although cheese-making died out almost completely after the 2nd World War. But today both counties have some great complementary food producers.
Today, however, there are many food producers and artisans who supply the county with fantastic food, from bread to cakes to pies and cured meats. Lovett Pies has a popular regional following, with the owners claiming that the pies are meticulously designed with well-balanced fillings encased in homemade shortcrust pastry. The ingredients are all sourced to bring out the very best flavours, with recipes such as beef, bellringer ale and Bath blue cheese to puy lentil, Welsh rarebit and kale. Vegetarian options include sweet potato, goats cheese, squash, spinach and plum chutney.
The Somerset Charcuterie uses traditional artisan methods with a Somerset twist with owners, Andy and James having been hobby charcutiers for several years. Over a pint of cider at a local lawn-mower race, the idea for a quality British Charcuterie business was conceived. Today, the friends have a range of products that follow traditional Spanish, French and Italian methods but are adapted to the British market. Everything is handmade to preserve the artisan texture, flavours and look.
Cheese and Pickle
White Row Farm’s motto is ‘from crop to shop’. This farm deli stocks cheeses such as Bath soft cheese, Wyfe of Bath, Cheddar Gorge cheese, Bath blue, sheep’s milk cheese, organic cheese, goats cheese, quince jelly, Snowdonia cheese, Wookey Hole Cave aged cheddar. It also stocks meats and cured meats such as sliced White Row ham, chorizos, cured sausages and homemade terrines.
Finally, if you are looking for a pickle, then look no further than Wiltshire’s Rosie’s Relish and Pickle. We all like a bit of relish to accompany our pies and cheese and Rosie has a range of interesting flavours that perfectly suit any food. All chutneys, pickles, relish and preserves are all handmade in small batches using traditional and innovative recipes. Bread and Butter Pickle comprises sliced cucumber and onion in a spiced vinegar, delicious when added to a salad or sandwich and suitable for vegans.
Look out for AC Services next blog on local food producers in our region to help catering businesses with local sourcing and ideas.
Actually, he loves them so much that he has two in the main kitchen of his restaurant, one in the sandwich kitchen, one in the pastry kitchen, two in the wedding venue and one in the farm shop.
Lowden Garden Centre is located in Shaw, Wiltshire and exemplifies everything that a garden centre needs to be to be sustainable. Among the plants, flora and fauna can be found the main restaurant which serves locally sourced quality produce all day.
The farm shop acts as the restaurant’s larder packed with the freshest local produce, alongside the Lowden butchers and the brew store with its carefully sourced wide range of craft beers and cider, all brewed within 10 miles of Lowden.
The newest addition to Lowden is the events marquee, the ideal venue for any occasion, for weddings, parties, private events, funeral reception, business conferences and exhibitions.
“I have been using Rational ovens for many years having first acquired one 13 years ago,” explains Jonathan. “I was overwhelmed by its performance and capacity. As the garden centre has grown, it was a natural conclusion that I bought more Rational ovens to cope with the demand on our chefs.”
Attract the Best with the Best
The garden centre employs eight chefs and Jonathan is firmly of the belief that the Rational ovens were the major factor in hiring the best.
“In an industry with so many top class chefs, businesses need an edge to attract the best and providing them with the optimum cooking facilities is a major advantage,” he continues. “We alter the menu daily and on a day to day basis, we serve over 100 breakfasts and lunches as well as 250 Sunday lunches. Reliability and performance are priorities.”
Taking the Sunday lunches as an example, the Rational ovens allow the chefs to prepare and cook the meat and vegetables for the lunches in sequence for a full three and a half hour service, with all food piping hot and cooked to perfection throughout the whole lunch period.
Of course, the problems come when and if the ovens break down, but Jonathan has it covered. “We have now taken out one of AC Services(Southern) excellent packages for biannual servicing,” he comments. “If anything happens to any of the appliances between services, the company is simply a phone call away. Swift service, swift solution, no down time. The service spots any small problems, down to a broken light which gives us peace of mind that the ovens will continue to function perfectly.”
With a turnover in the millions, the Lowden Garden Centre is constantly upgrading and innovating, with the family’s younger generation becoming involved in marketing and daily running. “The garden centre concept has evolved from merely a place to buy perennials to a day out,” concludes Jonathan. “We provide first-class, locally produced catering for our customers to enjoy on-site or to take away.”
Food and drink have hit the headlines again over the past week. With the sighting of a nine-foot shark off the coast of Cornwall and four smaller, but nonetheless impressive sharks caught in Devon. SW food buyers are checking supermarket fish carefully for fins.
The nut industry has been given a boost with the news that a diet rich in nuts could improve male fertility. According to a new study, “nut-rich diets produce a higher sperm count and more powerful swimmers.” A clinical trial was conducted over 14 weeks that found better sperm in the healthy young men aged 18-35 who supplemented their usual diet with 60 grams/day of mixed nuts, including almonds, hazelnuts and walnuts. Those in the nut group had significant improvements in their sperm.
Scorching New Flavours
It’s good news for ice cream manufacturers too, with retailers reporting a sales increase of over 100% on this time last year. Waitrose has experienced a massive lift in sales with ‘adult’ ice lollies topping the frozen treats charts with an increase in sales of 188%. This is a perfect example of diversity: from Fab to Ab Fab! Ice cream manufacturers have found a new grown up market although a frozen old-fashioned orange jubbly is still hard to be beat when it comes to cooling down.
SW Food Exports
Food and drink have been in the news in the South West and Wales this week with news that exports of SW food and drink have increased year on year to £760 million to March 2018. This is an increase of 7% compared to the previous 12 months, according to the latest HMRC figures. Meat was the most popular product (£97m) followed by dairy products and eggs (£148m).
It appears that China is benefiting the most from these exports, perhaps capitalising on the Brexit uncertainty and the trade tariffs enforced by the Trump administration. 24% more food and drink was exported to the country compared to the previous 12 months.
Food Minister George Eustice said: “Our food is known for its high quality and great taste and there has been a huge growth in the worldwide demand for British produce. Through the Food is GREAT campaign the government provides invaluable support to food and drink companies in the South West so they can access foreign markets and see their businesses grow.” It seems to be working then.
Finally, Bristol is being defiant in the face of fears that cheese, milk, butter and yoghurt imported from the EU could become much more expensive after Brexit. Yes, haloumi is at risk. But a Bristol-based agricultural expert has said it is an “opportunity” for those West Country dairy farmers and businesses to expand and diversify.
Food and drink industry expert, Graeme Fearon said: “before Wallace and Gromit think about emigrating, perhaps the market can be relied upon to save itself. In theory, every EU producer which finds itself unable to sell competitively to the UK is an opportunity for West Country farmers and businesses to expand their ranges and diversify their offerings.”
And the news from AC Services this month is our engineers are saying “if you think it’s hot in your kitchen, try driving my van in this weather to get to you on time!“
So far this year we have been spoiled rotten. Not only have we had the best run of good weather since 1976 but the World Cup has boosted the country like never before…well, not since 1990. Images of English football fans enjoying themselves have been flashed around the world.
There is no doubt that had we won the World Cup, the economy would have benefited exponentially. In the short term it has provided a major boost for pubs and clubs as people gathered to watch the games. These are the sort of in-country tourists that are often forgotten.
And don’t forget Mr Trump’s ‘I’ll Fix Brexit Singlehandedly’ tour. His controversial presence in the UK has sent pictures around the world, with people from all nations curious to see how he was received. The myriad snaps of him in Marine One on his way to iconic locations such as Blenheim Palace, Chequers, Windsor Castle and the inside of the Sun newspaper offices put the UK at the forefront of the world’s media.
2018 Inbound Tourism Forecast
The VisitBritain forecast for 2018 is for 41.7 million visits, an increase of 4.4% on 2017 which saw record highs with overseas visitors reaching 40.3 million. £26.9 billion in visitor spending is forecast, an increase of 6.8% on 2017.
Brexit looms with uncertainty as always and the ongoing value of the pound is a key variable. In financial terms, the pound remains much lower than its pre-referendum level and is forecast to continue to be weak throughout the medium term, indicating that Britain will remain a good value-for-money destination.
A spokesman from GlobalData commented: “The pound’s Brexit drop has rendered business and leisure trips to the UK more affordable, luring a growing number of European travellers.”
The UK economy has been boosted also by the emergence of countries such as Russia and Brazil from recession. China, India and much of South East Asia are continuing to grow at a rapid pace and residents of these countries are making plans to visit Britain.
Regional Success and the Future
Figures show 2017 was a record year for tourists in the South West, with South Devon particularly bolstered by a rise in tourism numbers. Some of the towns that attracted the most attention were Teignmouth, Dawlish, Salcombe and Exmouth, with 75% of visits to the website in 2017 from new visitors.
Bristol is hoping that its new museum, Being Brunel will attract more visitors. And the amazing weather has led to more and more people heading for the South West beaches.
With all indications that tourism will remain constantly buoyant over the next five years, it is an ideal opportunity for the food industry to capitalise on the current food diversity trends. Street food, pop-up restaurants and alternative food venues can help to create a Britain that can be lauded for its food as well as its locations. Catering should remain confident in its future investments to profit from tourists from home and abroad.
The Bath Bun, sprinkled with sugar and coloured with saffron is as famous as the doughy Sally Lunn Cake, piping hot with lashes of cream. The Bath Oliver cracker biscuit goes nicely with Bath Chaps. These are pigs cheeks or lower jaws salted and smoked then boiled and coated in breadcrumbs.
But it is the Cheddar brand that has been a favourite for centuries. When poor imitations started to crop up by the 18th century, stringent rules were put down to protect it.
Cheddar is the most popular type of cheese in the UK. Its accounts for 51% of the country’s £1.9 billion annual cheese market. It is also the second-most popular cheese in the US (behind mozzarella).
Not Just Cheddar
The first cheese made at Willet Farm near Taunton was a sheep’s milk cheese. This was shortly followed by the product after which the company is named and which is the flagship of the business; Exmoor Blue. Made from Jersey cows’ milk, it was the forerunner of the range of cheeses now produced on the site of the farm.
All cheeses, including Somerset Blue, Partridge’s Blue and Buffalo, are handmade to traditional recipes and methods using only the milk from local herds. To the milk is added vegetarian rennet, starter cultures, penicillin roqueforti (which gives the characteristic blue tang as the cheese is matured) and salt. Exmoor Blue has been awarded Protected Geographical Indication status. This ensures that the cheese is made to specified standards using local milk from within the designated area.
Honey and Vegetables
Honey, the natural sweet nectar is also produced in quantity in Somerset. Sedgemoor Honey is situated on the outskirts of Taunton. It produces the finest Somerset honey available through local shops, farm shops and National Trust outlets.
From two hives on the back garden in the 1970s, owner Chris Harries now runs 300 colonies of bees. Divided between 20 apiaries, they forage for nectar in the fields and hedgerows of Somerset. During the summer months many of the hives are relocated to changing nectar flows. This includes the purple heather of Exmoor, with its distinctive aroma and flavour. As well as providing a much desired pollination service for local farmers and growers, the company also rears queen bees and nucleus colonies for sale to other beekeepers.
Stoneage Organics specialises in organically grown produce. In addition to a farm in Oake, the family run business also has a farm near Bishop’s Lydeard. This has been fully organic since 1st January 2001, where the majority of the growing is now done.
Stoneage has been growing organic vegetables since 1988 and introduced the Vegetable Box Scheme in 1993. Each week, a selection of fresh, seasonal produce is packed into three sizes of box. Potatoes and carrots appear virtually every week, and onions most weeks. The remainder of the box is made up of various items depending on the time of year from aubergines, Brussels sprouts, beetroot, broad and runner beans, cauliflower, celery, chard, Chinese leaves, courgettes, fennel, pak choi, parsley, parsnips, peppers, radish, spinach, squash and more!
There are many more local food producers in Somerset that need a shout out. So no doubt the AC Services series will feature some more soon.