Tag Archives: AC Services
If you venture deep into the heart of Cheltenham, you will find a hidden gem in the form of the Manor By The Lake. This exquisite Victorian mansion is located within seven acres of award-winning gardens and is a visual delight.
Picture perfect for any kind of celebration from corporate away-days to lavish weddings, the Manor By The Lake has a few tricks up its sleeve. Behind the intricately carved oak panels, ornately painted ceilings and marble fireplaces lies a pulsating and busy kitchen.
“We installed Rational ovens when the venue was converted five years ago as we had limited space. The building is also Grade II listed which brought with it restrictions on equipment usage. The ovens suited us perfectly in terms of providing an arena to produce our dishes. But once a month, Rational uses our venue as a Cook Live demo site.”
“80% of our core business is weddings, so on the days without events, we are able to accommodate the training staff and also learn more about the capabilities of the ovens ourselves,” he comments.
Because of the versatility of the Rational ovens, Norbert and his staff are able to offer total precision to guests. “Consistency is key,” continues Norbert. With upwards of 200 guests at a wedding, it is vital that all of the food choices arrive at the same time and at the correct temperature. The pre-programming function of the Rational ovens makes this possible every time.
Maintaining the Quality
The Manor retains AC Services (Southern) to monitor and maintain the equipment on a yearly contract. Sometimes, things go wrong such as a recent problem with a door. But as Norbert explains, AC Services solved the problem and a new part was ordered and delivered overnight. “Obviously things can go wrong in a busy kitchen but any problems are quickly and efficiently sorted.”
In the first year of opening, the Manor By The Lake covered 60 weddings ; last year for all events the total produced by the Rational ovens was 24,000 covers.
Norbert puts this down to the venue’s attraction as well as the ability of the kitchen to produce what the client wants. “We pride ourselves on delivering the client’s culinary requirements,” he continues. “The versatility of the Rational ovens allows us to cater for the current trends in diversity when it comes to food.”
Manor History Provides Venue
The Manor By The Lake began life as Arle Court, built between 1854-1858. In 1904 Arle Court and its contents went under the hammer in a two-day sale and was bought by a Herbert Unwin, a Yorkshire businessman. During the 1950s, Arle Court stood empty until it was purchased by Ealing Studios as headquarters and film location set.
In 2010, the Manor was put up for sale again and was purchased in 2013 by Tammy Madge and Michael Chittenden. They restored the Manor back to its former 1858 glory with enhanced facilities to create an exclusive use venue for weddings, special occasions and business functions. All of which makes it a truly picture perfect venue in which to serve high quality catering consistently.
The headlines are currently dominated by Brexit, the snowy weather, the great American stand-off and the Oscars. But what is making the headlines in the world of food and drink?
There is a greater call of allergen labelling following the death of a schoolgirl from an unlabelled baguette. Proposals unveiled by environment secretary Michael Gove would see all prepackaged food labelled to help the UK’s two million food allergy sufferers decide whether they can safely eat it.
There are celebrations down in Devon as a popular fish and chip shop has been crowned as the best chippy in the UK. Krispies Fish & Chips in Exmouth has “battered its way to the top” winning the coveted award as UK’s best fish and chip shop at the National Fish and Chip Awards 2019, organised by Seafish. Krispie’s is owned and operated by husband and wife team Kelly and Tim Barnes, offering “true excellence in the fish and chip industry” with factors such as “sustainability, menu innovation, catering for special dietary requirements, customer service and marketing activity” all part of the judging process.
It’s also been getting spicy down in Devon with the humble ketchup being the focus of attention. The South Devon Chilli Farm has been listening to market research and is giving fans their signature chilli twist to the UK’s favourite condiment. Three new delicious chilli ketchups – cool jalapeno, smoky chipotle and hot habanero –have been added to the range as an alternative to the tomato option. Presented in a smart glass bottle, the range is suitable for vegetarian, vegan and gluten free diets and contains no artificial ingredients or preservatives.
Over in Taunton, the newly-introduced ‘bleeding’ vegan burger has been a new year triumph for TGI Friday. The completely meat-free burger, which was one of the most talked about burgers in the USA last year, is high in protein and has zero cholesterol. As well as beetroot, which gives it the iconic bleed, the flame-grilled burger is made from coconut oil, mushrooms, herbs, plant proteins, and spices.
Terry McDowell, TGI Fridays’ head chef, said: “Friday’s flame-grilled, hand-crafted burgers are one of the most popular dishes on our menu and now everyone can enjoy their legendary taste, whether they are vegan, vegetarian, trying to cut down on meat, or anything in between!”
Over in Wales, the Welsh government has just published a consultation considering a range of proposals to encourage people to change their eating habits and be more active. As well as banning energy drinks to under-16s, other measures in the ‘Healthy Weight, Healthy Wales’ include “restrictions on the positioning of products in stores, restrictions on the amount of marketing of certain products in stores, restrictions on promotions and discounting of certain products in stores, mandatory calorie labelling for food purchased and eaten outside of the home.” If you want to be heard then respond to the consultation.
And staying in Wales, following the huge success of the inaugural event in in 2017, BlasCymru / TasteWales returns March 20 and 21 2019. The show will bring together buyers, producers and food industry professionals for this signature international food and drink trade event and conference, held once again at the world-class Celtic Manor Resort.
Rational UK enjoyed a steady year in 2018 despite the ramifications, as yet unknown, of Brexit and global economic uncertainty.
The amalgamation of the Rational combi-steamers and Frima VarioCookingCenter® units under the umbrella Rational brand has successfully operated for almost a year. It has done what it promised by providing a complete solution for kitchen requirements from a single, reliable and reputable source. Everyone involved in the merger has applauded its successful and seamless implementation.
In the meantime, Rational UK is continuing its physical presence across the country with many shows and exhibitions already booked for 2019.
Locations include The Professional Kitchen Show at the NEC Birmingham in January; the Source Show in Exeter in February; and Expowest in Cornwall in May. Rational UK will also be exhibiting at the Restaurant Show and the Takeaway Expo in London later in the year. It’s always good to stop by the stand and find out what’s new for Rational UK.
As with industry as a whole, Rational UK’s future plans will be influenced by the outcome of Brexit. As an authorised Spares Partner at AC Services, we are keeping a wary eye on what might be impacted when the March deadline arrives. Currently some parts are guaranteed to be shipped from Germany within 24 hours. But whether this will change post-Brexit remains to be seen. And if it does what that will stretch to in the short term is anybody’s guess. We are committed to trying to maintain our current high spares supply levels.
To avoid post-March delay and to help us gauge the increased stock levels needed, we recommend that services are booked now. We can then create suitable buffer stocks of high-demand items to continue to offer our customary seamless service to all our customers. In addition, we’ll know what has been replaced recently in our customers’ units and what might need replacing later in the year. We can include this in our stock calculations to minimise disruption.
AC Services Team Update
On a more personal level, we are happy to report an excellent 2018. Our personnel are key to our continuing growth. Denise returned last year after ten years to the role as Service Administrator. Carolyn has been in her role as Accounts Administrator for a year. Kelly returned from Maternity Leave last year.
At our Christmas Party held at the Egypt Mill, Nailsworth we celebrated Senior Engineer Jon working for AC Services for 20 years. Helen said “20 years’ service is a remarkable achievement in most industries. But particularly amongst catering business that have seen significant change over that time. I’m glad we have Jon’s professionalism, experience and dedication to rely on”
Sometimes things go wrong. The best laid plans and all that can be thrown into total disarray for the most unforeseen reasons and, having carried out a recent poll amongst close friends, maybe I can make you understand the importance of pre-empting Christmas disasters.
Most of us can cook: although we may not in the league of genius then again, we all have at least one recipe which we claim as our signature dish. Most of our knowledge has been gained either by practice, by copying or by experience but sometimes however careful you may be, things go wrong.
Take Doris for example. Her first attempt at Christmas dinner could so nearly have ended in disaster. She planned everything to the letter, from ingredients to cooking times to presentation. On Christmas Eve, it horrifically dawned on her that her oven was too small for the Jurassic-proportioned bird she had so naively ordered from Mr Cleaver, the local butcher. Mr Cleaver had assured her that a 25lb turkey would be perfect for the four of them.
Luckily, a relative offered to cook the bird and bring it round on the day which would have worked perfectly had Edna not indulged in a few breakfast eggnogs causing her to trip and drop the bird on the road outside. With nothing else to do, they quickly scraped it up, transported it unseen to the kitchen and spent half an hour picking out the most obvious stones and debris. Surprisingly given the circumstances, Doris’s first Christmas dinner was deemed a triumph. No-one was any the wiser until many many years later.
Light Bulb Moment
Then there was the occasion when Chardonnay ran out of shallots while preparing her famous signature gravy at her sister Ava-Louise’s house. She asked sister if she had any more, eliciting a puzzled response.
“No, sorry, I forgot to buy shallots.”
“But I’ve just peeled loads of them!”
“Eh? Where did you find them?”
“In a bag on the floor, next to the fridge.”
“WHAT?? Those are my spring flowering bulbs I bought from the garden centre last week!”
“Alexa, are daffodil bulbs poisonous?!”
They’re not by the way.
Praise to the Caterers
I’ve muddled through over the years but this year, I am praising the caterers for the following reason. Having been lumbered with hosting Christmas dinner this year, I decided to ask the guests, all family, for their preferred choices.
My eagerness to please soon turned to horror as it dawned upon me that I was in no way, shape or form cut out for mass catering. Within our close-knit family, one is fully-fledged vegan, two vegetarian, one caffeine intolerant, two lactose intolerant and one is borderline type 2 diabetic. One suffers from coeliac disease, one from Crohns, another can’t eat gluten and two won’t eat ANY vegetables WHATSOEVER. Put any form of nuts within smelling distance of the mother-in-law and one of us will need to be sober enough to apply an epi-pen.
A frantic group chat to sympathetic friends solved the problem. Last minute booking for twelve at the local hotel it is. I am simply not prepared to take the risk. Let the experts take the strain.
So if you are eating out this season, make sure you appreciate what it takes to cater for a diverse clientele in terms of training and learning and applying the knowledge to produce mighty fine food for all. And if you are a caterer, just make sure the Rational oven is Christmas ready!
Have a wonderful Christmas from the team at AC Services (Southern).
NB All names have been changed to ensure a happy family Christmas!
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.