Tag Archives: AC Services
In May 2017, she expanded her company, the Pudding Kitchen from producing her products in the family home into a converted milking parlour and took possession of her biggest asset: a Rational electric SCC WE 61 oven. It was, she readily admits, one of the best decisions she has ever made.
The Pudding Kitchen began from an idea Rachel had 20 years ago for her own little cottage industry making puddings. In 2011, the dream came to fruition and Rachel opened the Pudding Kitchen for people to buy homemade cakes and puddings to eat for themselves or pass off as their own.
The company’s expansion to new premises gave Rachel the opportunity to purchase a new oven and having taken the recommendation from a renowned chef and one of her best customers, she attended a Rational demo with an open mind. The capabilities of the Rational oven convinced her of her need and as luck would have it, an ex-demo appliance became available.
“The initial installation wasn’t without its challenges,” confesses Rachel. “The appliance needed some work to get it into full working order and AC Services rose magnificently to the task. The engineers cleaned and tweaked it until it was fully operational and I couldn’t be happier with it.”
AC Services On Hand
AC Services have been a constant for the Pudding Kitchen and its progression. From a major incident where a power surge took out the oven, the fridge and freezer to repairing small faults and supplying cleaning materials, the company has kept the new oven performing to its capacity.
“The value of AC Services is that they employ real people who know my history,” continues Rachel. “Regardless of the fact that I am a relatively new customer, they are willing to come out at a moment’s notice to check the appliance. Once the warranty on the oven is up, I shall take out a maintenance programme with AC Services so that I can have peace of mind, knowing that should anything occur with the oven, I have full support.”
The Pudding Kitchen’s cakes and puddings are legendary in Somerset. Customers can choose from a number of cheesecakes, such as the silky coffee cheesecake topped with Italian meringue ‘froth’ and chocolate sprinkles or walnut and butterscotch cheesecake, with chopped walnuts throughout. The ginger and mango flavoured cheesecake is infused with warming ginger and swirled throughout with mango, all sitting on a ginger nut base and topped with tiny pieces of ginger stem.
Citron tarts are made with fresh lemons, free-range eggs and locally produced double cream, encased in all butter crispy pastry with the pear and chocolate tart featuring poached pears and shards of chocolate “nestling under a blanket of frangipane and almondy loveliness”.
Roulades come in amazing flavours, such as the beautifully rich, tangy lime and cream filling encased in a light as air meringue, topped with almonds for a crunchy finish and passion fruit and seasonal berries, a meringue roulade filled with vibrant tasting passion fruit curd, fresh cream and seasonal berries.
The company also produces individual puddings and maintains a presence for its homemade desserts in North Somerset at the Midsomer Norton Farmers’ Market.
For details on AC Services Southern and how we can help your catering company with your Rational and Frima equipment, call us on 01452 322222.
Wales has over 78% of its land surface given over to agricultural use. The vast majority of which consists of permanent grass pasture or rough grazing. This has led to the world famous Welsh lamb. Other traditional dishes include laverbread (made from edible seaweed), cawl (a lamb stew) and bara brith (fruit bread).
However there are literally hundreds of Welsh food producers that offer succulent and exotic food to pubs, restaurants and other eateries which are worth a look.
Cider making is big business for Hallets. At their headquarters at Blaengawney Farm, the company uses old traditional methods of cider making from fresh cider apples borrowing a few techniques from wine makers along the way. Ancient oak barrels with cider ageing inside work alongside stainless steel wine fermenters to produce real and draught cider.
“We make a number of different draught ciders and a perry… all of which are pure juice. We ferment each variety of apple separately and then blend into the ciders listed below. Our limited edition ciders are also produced in smaller quantities as opposed to our standard products of Heartbreaker, Blindfold and National Treasure which are available all year round,” says a spokeperson.
If cupcakes are your thing, then Ridiculously Rich by Alana had a good start in life, having won the Apprentice Show and the backing of Lord Sugar. Every Ridiculously Rich cake is meticulously hand-crafted in Wales using the finest ingredients. Gooey Chocolate Brownies, Chunky Rocky Road and Salted Caramel Slices are just a few of the delicious flavours on offer. Originating from a little country kitchen, Ridiculously Rich’s approach in the kitchen is described as “perfectionist, experimental, flavour-obsessed, and motivated by all things indulgent.“
Cheese is everyone’s favourite and Caws Cenarth is a family business started in 1987 in response to Milk Quotas. Six generations of cheesemaking tradition go into the manufacture of the Caws Cenarth cheeses, which include the creamy, fresh-flavoured Caerffili. In fact, it lays claim to being the oldest established producer of Welsh Farmhouse Caerffili. Also on the menu are Garlic and Herb Caerffili, Smoked Caerffili and Brie-like Perl Wen, a creamy blue, Perl Las, and Golden Cenarth, a washed-rind cheese.
Chutneys, curds, preserves, jams, jellies and marmalades are all available at Little Grandma’s Kitchen a family-run business based in St Clears, Carmarthenshire. The company manufactures mouthwatering chutneys, including Mulled Spiced Apple, Caramelised Red Onion, Grumps Spicy Apple and Apple, Carrot & Ginger. For those brave enough, there is the Inferno Chutney with Naga Chilli and Weapons Grade Chilli! All products are made in small batches to retain their individual flavour using seasonal, local produce where possible.
Last of the Welsh food producers today is The Food Assembly at Abergavenny. This is an award-winning food community delivers the best produce from local Welsh farmers and foodmakers. It works via an online market, where customers to place their orders for vegetables, fruits, eggs, dairy products, meat, bread, honey and fish. The choice ranges from exotic spices to mackerel fillets to organic meat, all locally sourced.
AC Services (Southern) has again received the SafeContractor accreditation. This seal of approval is issued by Alcumus and is testament to the company’s health and safety arrangements, policies and qualifications of contractors. This third party accreditation scheme confirms a company’s competency in the practice of health and safety.
AC Services received the accreditation following a stringent vetting process which examined all health and safety procedures and their track record for safe practice. It is used by thousands of organisations in the UK including SMEs and FTSE 100 companies.
Indeed there are a further 300 nationwide businesses, from several key industries, who have signed up for a separate scheme to select only accredited contractors for services including building, cleaning, maintenance, refurbishment or electrical and mechanical work.
Seal of Approval
AC Services will continue to use the SafeContractor seal of approval on their documentation and marketing material and will be included on the SafeContractor website, accessible only to registered users and signed up client organisations, enabling them to choose a potential accredited contractor.
Gemma Archibald, Director of Alcumus SafeContractor said: “Major organisations simply cannot afford to run the risk of employing contractors who are not able to prove that they have sound health and safety policies in place. More companies need to understand the importance of adopting good risk management in the way that AC Services has done. The firm’s high standard has set an example which hopefully will be followed by other companies within the sector.”
Helen Hagger, MD of AC Services is delighted but not surprised at the accreditation. “We take health and safety extremely seriously and our organisation has adhered to the highest standards both in the office and in the field when we service our clients. We are proud to consistently employ best practice in our operations and the SafeContractors seal of approval is testament to this.”
Clients often ask AC Services Southern why we recommend a full annual service on their Rational appliances. Surely regular cleaning and standard maintenance practices are enough to maintain the performance of the ovens?
The truth is that however much and however meticulously you clean your oven, like your own car, there is still the need for a regular Rational service to optimise or replace the parts which wear.
So for the diligent as well as those absent-minded oven owners out there, we have a solution. We have been using a new system since April. We now log when ovens are serviced and sending a timely reminder when the next service is due.
At AC Services we like to give back to our loyal customers so read on to see how you can SAVE £10 on online orders. We are the Rational Service Partner for South West England and South Wales. Our team of engineers only repair and maintain Rational ovens and Frima Vario Cooking Centres. That places us in the very safe position of knowing exactly what we are looking for and what we are doing.
Our engineers have over 40 years’ experience between them and as we only work on two pieces of equipment, all the engineers have a van full of Rational original parts. What this means is that in the majority of cases (more than 95%), our engineers will have any parts that may be required so we will be able to quote you the price and fit them there and then, if given the go ahead.
So what happens in a service and how long does it take? Ideally, our engineers will spend at least 1½ hours and often two hours fully checking the appliance. Why so long? Check out the key points on our service checklist.
- Door function tests
- Interior cabinet tests
- Control panel function check
- Exhaust/vent hood function test/commissioning
- Electrical safety test
- Water-drain function test
- Steam generator electrical components
- Gas specific parts
- Gas analysis
- Software update
The second question is cost. Is it cost effective in the long term?
The cost of a full Rational service carried out by one of our fully qualified Rational Engineers starts from £165 plus VAT (depending on age and size of the oven) plus the cost of any parts required, which are discussed and costed before fitting. Any extra hours are charged at £44 plus VAT, in increments of 15 minutes.
A breakdown or repair callout costs £121 plus VAT inclusive of the callout and one hour’s labour, with further labour charged at £44 per hour in increments of 15 minutes. For those who feel this is too much of a layout, just add up the costs of loss of business, of reputation, of loyal customers and of the profit margin should you be unable to use your oven to provide food for customers.
Finally, we love offering our customers discounts. So save £10 per shop on our range of Rational Cleaning, Rinse and Care Tablets for the relevant ovens and Rational Grill Cleaner using the code JUL10 in our on-line store before 12th August 2017.
Wiltshire boasts numerous attractions including Stonehenge and Salisbury Plain. It is a favourite for visitors through its pre-Roman archaeology and rolling hills as well as towns and cities that thrive on tourism.
Hospitality plays a key role for pubs, restaurants and hotels in Wiltshire and the region is proud of its culinary heritage. There are numerous food suppliers in Wiltshire who serve the catering industry and who provide excellent food and beverages, many of them sourced locally.
The Fine Food Company has been supplying speciality food to catering establishments for many years, delivering produce that is sourced fresh and picked by hand directly from speciality food markets and manufacturers.
The company runs monthly promotions on some delicious products, for example this month on offer is exotic flavours from Lovingtons Ice Cream and a Chutney of the Month from The Bay Tree Food Company. Regular food includes prepped vegetables, fresh mushrooms and truffles, fruit purees, charcuterie, terrines, pates and pies as well as speciality poultry and meat.
Offering a personal service and locally sourced produce, is Lovejoys. The company specialises in requests from chefs for specialist crops such as Pink Fir apple potatoes, Ruby Red chard or Stripy beetroot. A statement from the company says: “we are unique in the industry in our desire only to supply within 90 minutes from our base in West Wiltshire”.
Lovejoys also offers its own prep room for chefs with limited time. A large amount of the vegetables are grown exclusively in Bromham and the surrounding area, and all eggs are laid just three miles from the premises. In addition, all milk and cream come from farms in Wiltshire, Devon, Dorset, and Somerset.
Award-winning organic lamb and mutton can be found at Langley Chase Organic Farm. It is reared on a small organic farm in the Wiltshire countryside from rare breed Manx Loaghtan. Langley Chase has already won 19 National Organic Food Awards including Best Organic Meat, Best Organic Lamb and Best Organic Mutton in the UK.
Manx Loaghtan is a distinguished rare breed that is high in flavour and greatly lower in fat and cholesterol than commercial breeds. According to the company, “each lamb and mutton is selected and butchered to each customer’s requirements and delivered direct to the door.” The company also makes chorizo salami, and uses the rest of the animals to make beautiful sheepskin rugs, wool and clothes.
Wiltshire Food & Drink
For food and drink look no further than Ashton Farms, with over 700 lines of fresh, chilled, frozen and ambient foods and an extensive range of soft drinks. This family business prides itself on its customer service, with little touches such as cheese and eggs being still packed on site. Time is spent sourcing the very best quality and time is also spent on building relationships with suppliers.
Wiltshire eateries have an enormous range of food suppliers that can cater for the traditional and the exotic. With the weather in the last week reaching record highs, summer has officially arrived and the great British public are heading outdoors. For catering establishments, offering a wider choice of food has to be an extra incentive to attract visitors!
Look out for the next in the series of AC Services Southern’s spotlight on local food suppliers with South Gloucestershire and Bristol in August.
Organic is a trademark of certain suppliers in this region such as Langford Farm, a family run beef and dairy farm. This has been run organically for over 20 years. Pedigree-sired cattle including Aberdeen Angus, Devon and Hereford provide meat that is grass-fed in natural clover-rich pastures and hay meadows, making the beef beautifully marbled and tender. Complying with the Soil Association and Red Tractor Farm Assurance, the beef is dry aged on the bone for at least 28 days.
Cheese All Round
Of course the region is famous for its cheese. A.J & R.G Barber Ltd is a long-established Somerset cheesemaker producing West Country Farmhouse Cheddar and other traditional cheeses. The Barber family have been making cheese in Somerset since the early 1800´s and currently has about 1700 dairy cows. The company is the sole guardians of the country’s last remaining traditional cheese starter cultures. These are the ‘friendly’ bacteria that begin the cheese-making process giving it the final aroma, texture and taste.
The flagship cheese is Barber’s 1833 Reserve Cheddar with a creamy texture and smooth finish, containing naturally occurring crystals for a crunchy texture. Barber’s Farmhouse Vintage Cheddar is matured for around 18 months, with the Barber’s Farmhouse Mellow Cheddar matured for around four months. The Barber’s Farmhouse Waxed Truckle Cheddar is matured for around 12 months then packaged in black wax for a rounded and rich flavour and creamy texture.
Another cheesemaker of repute is the Glastonbury Dairy. This is farmed by the Clapp family who can trace their roots in Somerset back to the 11th century. Now settled in the Brue Valley, the company is renowned for its cheese and especially its butter. Butter making is a natural part of any cheese dairy. The liquid draining off the curds is collected, and the butterfat separated from the whey as cream. After pasteurisation, the cream is used to make the butter.
Now we all love sauces and Rose Farms of Somerset have an extensive range to suit every palette. The small family-run business offers a wide range of jams and pickles handmade in open pans with no artificial additives. Delicious flavours are available such as honey & mustard and orange & rosemary dressing, mustard with Somerset cider, Harvest chutney, onion and pineapple chutney, and peach and pear jam. Try the range of pickles such as vegetables preserved in brine and spiced vinegar and good old fashioned pickled onions in Somerset cider.
Finally, there is Burns the Bread an award-winning family bakery based in Glastonbury making a wide range of loaves, using both organic and non-organic flour. The company produces a range of baked goods, from Christmas puddings to savoury pastries. Established in 1983 Burns the Bread has quickly become an integral part of Glastonbury’s rich heritage. It produces loaves such as multi seed, French grain, honey and spelt bread.
To find out about other regional food producers in AC Services Southern’s regular series please like us on Facebook or bookmark our site.
We 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.
From now until the end of summer, the South Coast will be busy with tourists and visitors from far afield. All hoping to take advantage of the beaches and seaside events that the region offers. It started early in Bournemouth, with the International Centre hosting the Hotel, Catering and Retail Trade Show on 14-15th March.
Featuring innovative products, plentiful food and drink product tastings, and discussions on the latest trends and developments, the show was as always a chance for suppliers and key industry players to interact and exchange ideas and advice.
Over 100 exhibitors took centre stage with many launching new products and services. Curio Spirits Company launched its Cornish Cup, a drink inspired by the traditional punch used in the British Navy during the 17th century. The five main ingredients are all natural, and sourced locally: spirits, water, sugar, citrus and tea.
The Pampas Plains company was new to the show. It has just launched the flatiron steak to both trade customers and catering customers and sources meat from around the world.
Piddle Brewery introduced Dorset’s first Gluten-Free Beer. Independently tested and certified by Coeliac UK, the brewery has taken its existing 4.3% best seller, Cocky IPA and made it gluten free.
New for 2017, the Purbeck Ice Cream team has introduced three new flavours of ice cream – Dorset Truffle, Salted Maple and Chai Latte and an incredible new Pineapple sorbet. All made on the farm in Dorset. Not to be outdone New Forest Ice Cream unveiled two brand new, wonderfully indulgent ice creams, Choc Chip Cookie Dough and the Berry & Apple Crumble Ice Cream.
However the show was not all about products. Leading chefs demonstrated their favourite signature dishes and culinary skills in the Demo Kitchen. Mixologists sprang into action in the Liquid Hall. Artisan Producers from Dorset and Hampshire exhibited in both halls, bringing some local flavours which appealed to both retail and food service buyers.
Seminars included a Food Allergen Masterclass. This was an introductory session on how to ensure that providing for the free-from customer is not an afterthought. An excellent talk on Food and Culture, Heritage and Tradition focusing on the iconic cream tea. How we see it today, tomorrow and potentially how we will see it in 20 years time.
Other talks included how surplus food can help change lives from FareShare UK. Every day eight million people in the UK struggle to feed themselves. FareShare depots nationwide help to tackle this problem, providing a positive solution for surplus food.
There was something for everyone at the Hotel, Catering and Retail Show which will return to the same venue next year. Not just a product platform, the show encourages anyone involved in the industry to network and exchange information. This helps the catering corps provide the best to the public. And the importance of those information exchanges is why AC Services Southern shares these show reports.
From beer to fish to fruit and meat (not forgetting cheese of course), Gloucestershire has it all when it comes to local food producers. Uniquely situated in the heart of England, the county is renowned for its fine food and beverages and suppliers are plentiful.
Let’s start with cheese. Gloucestershire has a well earned reputation for excellent cheeses, ranging from the conservative cheddar to more exotic varieties, such as chilli and smoked. One of the most popular suppliers is Godsells Cheese, who makes handmade cheeses at Church Farm, in the Gloucestershire village of Leonard Stanley. The company uses milk from its own herd of cows, producing such delights as Double Gloucester, Single Gloucester, Hooded Monk, Leonard Stanley, Three Virgins, Holy Smoked, Singing Granny, Nympsfield and Scary Mary Cheeses.
The company is one of only four cheesemakers in Gloucestershire able to make Single Gloucester cheese with a Protected Designated Origin. This means it can only be made in Gloucestershire. The Cheddar is aged for a minimum of seven months, while Scary Mary is a Nympsfield (a fresh soft cheese) left to go mouldy!
Moving onto meat and Macaroni Farm supplies a range of organic meat to suit all tastes. The farm dates back to the late 1600’s, and has been in the Phillips family since 1891. The farm supplies extensively and traditionally reared organic beef, slaughtered locally to keep ‘food miles’ to a minimum. It is hung for 28 days to allow the meat to tenderise and reach maturity. Its award winning organic lamb is available as whole or half lambs direct from the farm. Pheasant and partridges are available throughout the shooting season.
If its venison you are after, look no further than the Withington Estate for Withington Wild Venison, which is hunted from the estate’s managed woodland. All of the venison (roe and fallow) is truly wild, neither farmed nor from a deer park.
Fruit and Veg
Gloucestershire is also famous for its many varieties of fruit and at Bentleys Castle Fruit Farm you are assured of a huge range. Plum varieties include Herman, Opal, Reeves Seedling, Avalon, Victoria, Valor and Marjorie Seedling. There over 12 seasonal varieties of apples, two varieties of pears and seven varieties of cherries. There are a range of juices, sauces, syrups and relishes all made from freshly pressed apples, pears and plums .
For farm grown fruit and vegetables, Over Farm grows more than 20 different crops throughout the year which are sold in its farm shop, from asparagus in spring, strawberries in the summer, pumpkins and squash in autumn and sprouts in the winter.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning Cheltenham’s David’s Chilli Oil “created with passion and a commitment to enliven food with delicious heat.” Perfect for drizzling over hot or cold food, marinating, cooking and dipping. The heat of the chilli comes from the capsaicin oil which is present in the chilli found mostly in the seeds and the ribs of chilli peppers. Here’s a little known tip: drinking water to cure a burning mouth is useless. Try fat instead such as milk, yoghurt and even peanut butter!
AC Services Southern believes in supporting local food producers in Gloucestershire and the other counties we serve. Look out for our next spotlight in our local food producers series.
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.
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.
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.
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.