Tag Archives: Case Study


Hollybush Inn Open for Food

HollyBush InnThe Hollybush Inn on the Bristol-Bath border has been open for business since 2014 after a major refurbishment that saw the formerly derelict site transformed into a welcoming and popular venue.

An independent family run public house, it is now owned by James Prangell, whose vision to renovate the pub that had been closed for several years has been hugely successful.

One of his aims was to offer food, but having no existing kitchen, this was no easy task. Undeterred, he took a look at the assets and targeted an old garage. After extensive refurbishment, this became the kitchen, linked to the restaurant via a walkway.

Second Hand Oven

His first purchase, and in hindsight, perhaps his best, was the oven. According to James, it had to be Rational. “We got a very good deal on a second-hand Rational SCC101 which was perfect for our requirements,” he explains.

Being second-hand, we were slightly concerned about its condition and performance but our fears were ungrounded. In the past two years, it has proven to be invaluable.

On advice from AC Services (Southern), James has the appliance serviced regularly twice a year. In the meantime, should anything need attention, then he calls out the company on an ad hoc basis.

We cannot afford for the oven to go wrong, as we rely upon it for the food that we produce on a daily basis,” he continues. “So we use AC Services as and when we need them to ensure the appliance is always working at its optimum capacity.

Food on the Table

And the menu on offer is extensive: fresh, locally sourced ingredients go into homemade dishes ranging from light lunches, evening meals, daily specials or Sunday roasts.

Enjoy a trio of mixed beetroot salad with apple and Somerset goats cheese, duck liver pate, gooseberry chutney and toast or Brixham Bay mussels cooked in garlic and shallots, served with crusty bread.

Main courses include haddock cooked in light beer batter with proper chips and chunky mushy peas or summer chicken with mushroom sauce, courgettes and jersey royals. Or go overboard with an 8oz West Country Sirloin with wild mushroom, tomato, garlic butter and proper chips!

We have a reputation built up over the past two years of excellent cuisine, superb hospitality and a friendly environment,” concludes James. “The lynchpin of our operation is the Rational oven without which we would be floundering. It just goes to prove that even second-hand, Rational is the best choice for cooking a range of food and for the Hollybush Inn, it’s the ideal choice.”


Published Date: 22nd March 2016
Category: Blog, Case Study, News
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Somerset’s Royal Oak

Royal Oak Over Stretton SomersetPies are the order of the day at the Royal Oak  in Over Stratton, Somerset, courtesy of chef and owner, Jill Leaver. Her delicious and succulent pies have been delighting the diners at the historic pub for over 13 years since she and her husband, Chris took over ownership.

Jill readily admits that the acquisition of a Rational oven eight years ago has been instrumental in the success of her food.

We invested in a Rational and rely upon AC Services (Southern) to ensure that the appliance runs perfectly and cooks to perfection,” she says.

The value of the oven for me lies in its combination qualities: not only does it cook the food to perfection, but the reheating ability is second to none. This is particularly useful for the pies, with the pastry coming out as crisp when reheated as when first cooked. No soggy bottoms for my pies!

Royal Oak and Rational

Originally built in the 1600s as a farmhouse, the Royal Oak became farm workers cottages before it received a licence to become an alehouse on the 1850s. Since then, it has enjoyed a reputation as a fine example of a typical picturesque English country pub. The venue itself is idyllic: attractive thatched roof with its Ham stone walls, flag stone floors and solid oak beams, which attracts visitors from far and wide.

The Royal Oak hosts events throughout the week, with Wednesdays and Thursdays are SURF, TURF, SWINE & WINE nights and a full Sunday lunch menu. But Jill’s pies are always on the menu and are always home cooked.

Before we had the Rational oven, we had a different combination oven but it was unreliable,” she comments. “It was forever breaking down and frankly, we were uncertain of its abilities. But with the Rational, everything is clear and easy.

The service we get from AC Services is invaluable. It is regularly serviced and in the event of any problems, the engineer not only comes to fix the initial problem but checks everything as standard to ensure that nothing else is amiss.”

Jill maintains the oven carefully, cleaning it meticulously whenever it is used. The Royal Oak is renowned for its food and any deviation from quality will impact on its reputation.

We had an extremely busy Christmas and New Year, with diners from the local Somerset community and further afield,” she continues. “And just one week into 2016, we are busier than we have ever been. Long may it continue!

Count on AC Services

AC Services (Southern) is delighted to count the Royal Oak as one of its valued customers. The company believes that keeping a regular eye on the equipment and responding to any query, be it small or large as well as keeping in constant contact with the client is the secret to pre-empting any major problems.

The question is, does the engineer get rewarded with a pie? According to Jill, a cup of tea is reward enough!

AC Services (Southern) operates across the South of England, the Southwest, and South Wales. If you run a pub and are interested in a Rational oven, why not give them a call? You can reach them on 01454 322 222.


Published Date: 12th January 2016
Category: Blog, Case Study, News
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The Dunkirk Spirit

Dunkirk Memorial HouseThe Dunkirk Memorial House  in Taunton is owned by the British Legion and is one of the organisation’s care homes that provides for former servicemen and women or their dependents.

The Legion currently has six care homes providing short and long-term care around the country, including four with specialist dementia care.

Each provides long-term nursing and personal care, and the food is an essential element of the service; as Taff Davies, Head of Catering at the Dunkirk home explains, keeping all the residents happy all of the time requires skill.

Catering at Dunkirk

We rely upon two Rational ovens to fulfil the catering needs,” he comments. “Both are in constant use and in my opinion, with many years experience as a catering manager in the armed forces, they are the best on the market.

Dunkirk Memorial House has 60 rooms, as well as a 30-bed Dementia care wing and the emphasis within the facility is on independence. So having a varied menu from which the residents can make a choice is important to Taff, who since his arrival two years ago, has revolutionised the cooking arena!

I prefer to make dishes from scratch, not serve up food that is pre-prepared,” he continues. “This led to many hours spent searching for suitable suppliers, but we eventually got there, and with the help of the ovens, we are now able to produce the highest standards when it comes to meals.

The Rational ovens allow Taff and his team to bake, steam and roast a variety of meats and fish, enabling them to be able to produce locally grown and produced meals for the 84 residents who currently reside at Dunkirk. This to Taff is an important aspect of independent living.

We refuse to serve up substandard food, as the residents at Dunkirk and all of the British Legion homes deserve the highest level of quality from their food.

Oven Care

Should anything go wrong with the Rational appliances, Taff has organised a budget care package for the older oven, a Gas 62 2007 as the other, the G62 WE 2013 is still under warranty. Under the agreement, AC Services (Southern) make two scheduled services annually, and as always, are on call should anything go amiss, although as Taff admits, the majority of calls to the company are simply for new deliveries of cleaning tablets.

The ovens have a variety of functions that help in everyday catering on a large scale, which were explained by the team from AC Services, and which help enormously in the preparation of healthy, fresh meals for the residents,” Taff concludes.

The British Legion home communities include men and women of varied ages and abilities, each with a dedicated social activity team who tailor activities to residents’ needs. As always, the charity is grateful for donations, so to make a donation, simply contact the British Legion  on its website.


Published Date: 22nd September 2015
Category: Blog, Case Study, Catering Business, News, Ovens, Rational
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Three Counties Hotel, Hereford

Three Counties Hotel HerefordA picturesque hotel in the heart of rural Hereford, the Three Counties Hotel is a family run venture, offering everything for the discerning visitor, from accommodation to food to a stunning event venue.

The hotel stands in landscaped gardens with over three acres for the guests to relax and unwind, and the location lends itself perfectly for weddings, which is a hotel speciality. The venue has banqueting and conferencing facilities for up to 450 guests, with 60 bedrooms, with means plenty of room for the happy couple and all their guests!

Best Venue

To cope with the demand which has led to the hotel being nominated as Best Venue in the Herefordshire Wedding Supplier Awards, the hotel uses Rational ovens. There are two in constant use in the hotel, both running on gas, and according to sales and admin manager, Michelle Standell, they are huge contributors to the successful events that go on all year round.

We have an excellent reputation not only for the venue but for the catering which is often on a very large scale, so it is essential that the ovens are constantly and consistently in full working order,” she comments.

We use AC Services Southern expert engineers to regularly service the appliances on a standard 12-month labour contract. It’s for total peace of mind because should the ovens fail for any reason, as ovens tend to do, we know that we are covered by AC Services at all times.”

The Three Counties Hotel offers an extensive menu, with trademark dishes involving local Herefordshire Beef, and traditional and international menus offered in the form of finger buffets up to sit-down four-course meals.

Three Counties DiningWhen you have such pressure to provide the very best for the guests, any failure in the kitchen, particularly with the cooking appliances, is unacceptable,” continues Michelle.

We have the normal problems associated with cooking appliances, not heating up or steaming etc. But as soon as we realise there is a problem, we call out the experts and it gets fixed every time.

We’ve been operating this way for over a decade and it perfectly suits the way we run the hotel.”

If you want a venue for your birthday party, dinner dance to christening or wedding, or any other occasion to celebrate, then check out the facilities at the Three Counties Hotel and be assured that the food and catering will always be of the highest standards thanks to the support from AC Services (Southern).


Published Date: 1st July 2015
Category: Blog, Case Study, News
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The Crown of Crucis

The Crown of CrucisTranquillity doesn’t come much better than a 16th century inn, nestled in the heart of the Cotswold countryside, with facilities that offer the guest and visitor far more than just a day or night away.

The Crown of Crucis is idyllically located beside scenic Ampney Brook, a mere five minutes’ drive from the historic town of Cirencester. And as it overlooks the cricket pitch, guests can actually hear the sound of willow on leather: a quintessentially English venue!

Owner, Hugh Calvert has built up an excellent reputation for his cuisine, with the Crown of Crucis offering everything from corporate events to romantic weddings, and his secret is his Rational ovens. Both of them. And guests keep flocking back, whether for a fireside pub meal or fine dining in the restaurant, or a catered conference in the Cotswold Suite, which can accommodate up to 140 delegates in a theatre-style layout.

Reliable Partners

As Hugh explains, the quality and reliability of the ovens are central to the success of the inn, as food is constantly served throughout the day, from sandwiches and fish in the bar in the daytime to succulent meals in the evening.

Reliability is paramount,” he explains. “We have been using Rational ovens since 2008 and not only can we rely upon them but the cooking quality is exemplary, with exactly the food we require produced time after time to perfection.”

The ovens are serviced by AC Services (Southern) for whom Hugh has nothing but praise. “We use them on an ad hoc basis,” he continues. “We have complete peace of mind that if anything happens, then we are immediately on the phone to AC Services. Sometimes they talk us through any problems so that we can sort them out or they send an engineer. Either way, the problem is always solved. The diagnostic ability of this company is second to none: they know Rational ovens!

The Crown of Crucis underwent a refurbishment three years ago, and business has boomed ever since. “The consistency of the standards of our cuisine is a major priority for us,” concludes Hugh. “The Rational ovens have allowed us to produce our best at all times.

Any deviation from the regime could cause untold problems. AC Services (Southern) believes that keeping a regular eye on the equipment, reporting any fault, however small it may seem, and keeping in constant contact with the client is the secret to solving any problem before it becomes an issue.

AC Services (Southern) operates across the South of England, the Southwest, and South Wales. If you operate Rational Ovens in your business, why not give them a call? You can reach them on 01454 322 222.


Published Date: 26th May 2015
Category: Blog, Case Study, News, Rational
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The Rational Life of Pie

Pieminister Chicke of Aragon pieAs a nation we love pies. Pork pies, savoury pies, apple pies, even Mrs Tweedy’s chicken pies, and a company in Bristol has perfected not only the recipe but the execution of producing the perfect pastry.

The company is Pieminister which makes all of its pies in Bristol, sourcing local ingredients from as close to its South West base as possible. Not only does it only use free range British chicken and pork but it is the only British pie company to hold three Good Farm Animal Welfare Awards from Compassion in World Farming! Now those are the ingredients of a good pie maker.

And of course, the company only uses the best ovens. The Rational CPC, which have been solid, reliable and utterly invaluable over the past seven years in the kitchens based in Westbury-on-Trym where they make the pies. Indeed, according to Geoff Martin, the Engineering Manager, the support from AC Services (Southern), has saved the bacon quite literally, on a few occasions.

Recipe for Success

All equipment goes wrong at some point, usually at the most inconvenient time,” he comments. “For a company like ours, not only supplying pies daily to shops, pubs, restaurants and cafes, but also to events such as weddings and festivals, oven failure is the biggest concern.

Geoff has been using A C Services for the last three years on an ad hoc basis, which means that should anything go wrong, then a call to AC Services is all that is required. He readily admits that over this time, the response has been excellent; even at the last minute, when he has had an emergency, an engineer is immediately dispatched. “The level of service is fantastic and the engineers are very professional in the way they go about their work,” he enthuses.

Wedding Drum Pie

And only last week Pieminister saw its hard work pay off with the award of the prestigious Gold Medal for 2015 in this year’s Innovation Class at the British Pie Awards,  making it into the top three Bride’s Pies with its Wedding Drum Pie.

What is a Wedding Drum Pie, you may ask? The Pieminister Wedding Drum Pie is the inspiration of the founder of the company, Tristan Hogg, and comprises a “drum of silky smooth olive oil pastry which is filled with Ziti pasta, tender meatballs, chunks of Genoa salami and Provolone, Picante and Pecorino sardo cheese and quails eggs, combined with a painstakingly slow-cooked rich Ragu sauce made with beef shin, pork ribs, fresh oregano, garlic and plenty of Chianti.” Not just any old pie, then.

Pieminister has gained a well-deserved reputation for taste and innovation, with its pies found throughout the UK, from prestigious restaurants in the heart of trendy London to farmers markets in the South West to the fields of Glastonbury and other festivals. At the core of the operations however, lies its kitchens, where day after day, succulent pies are conceived, created and baked using Rational technology and relying upon AC Services (Southern)’s support.


Published Date: 5th May 2015
Category: Blog, Case Study, News
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Worcester Sourced at Diglis House Hotel

Diglis House Hotel WorcesterIt has been two and a half years since general manager Steve Pirone installed a SCC201 electric WE Rational oven at his venue, the Diglis House Hotel in the heart of Worcester.

Firstly, the location is staggering: behind the historic and iconic cathedral, the hotel is almost hidden from sight overlooking the River Severn but although discreet, it has one of the best reputations in the county for both food and accommodation.

This impressive Grade II listed Georgian building was originally built way back in the mid 18th century as a private residence, and boasted guests that included John Constable. Today, guests and visitors can relax in the riverside terraced gardens and the Seymour Suite, a dedicated conference centre.

Perfect Setting

The hotel uses its banqueting hall and conference centre to host many many events throughout the year. Steve Pirone has already taken 37 wedding bookings for the summer of 2015 alone, and although the prospect of successfully catering for such a large number of guests may daunt some, he is not fazed in the slightest.

We installed the oven specifically for the purpose of catering for guests on a large corporate scale,” he explains. “What the appliance has done is significantly improve our speed and quality of service. The combination of an excellent chef and an appliance that can multi-task in terms of keeping food hot while other food is cooking, has been invaluable for our reputation.

It’s not only weddings and celebrations that attract people to the Diglis. Steve is particularly proud of the conference facilities: especially the breakfasts that have become increasingly popular for attendees.

They can expect a full English breakfast, with every item on the menu served hot, even though they cook at different speeds,” he enthuses. “That is the beauty and value of the Rational oven. One oven, one chef, full breakfast.”

And Steve never worries about the oven malfunctioning. After the initial two year automatic warranty expired, he uses AC Services (Southern), as the authorised partner to Rational, on an adhoc basis, on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, should anything go wrong.

Severn Value Venue

The location of the Diglis House Hotel gives it an advantage, but as Steve points out, if the food, accommodation and overall service was not up to scratch, then there would be no guests. And the 37 weddings already booked in for summer as well as the nine parties booked last Christmas prove the hotel’s quality in all areas.

With the support of AC Services (Southern), the hotel can be assured that the catering equipment will always be kept in peak condition to serve the superb food with which the Diglis has become associated.


Published Date: 21st April 2015
Category: Blog, Case Study, Catering Business, News
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Urban Peace of Mind

Urban Beach InteriorThe Urban Beach hotel in Bournemouth has impressive credentials: Best Small Hotel and Best Bar at the 2008 Bournemouth Tourism Awards and 2014 Winner of the Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor. The hotel is owned by Mark Cribb who has invested a lot of time and money into the hotel and its bar and bistro, not to mention the Urban Reef, its sister beachfront venue.

Urban Reef was opened in 2009, five minutes from the hotel, as a hugely popular bar, cafe, deli and restaurant with views over the stunning Boscombe bay. It has a 90 seater sun deck right on the promenade, a ground floor cafe, bar and local produce deli and a 100 seater first floor restaurant.

Oven Ready

Urban Reef foodThe one thing that the hotel, bistro and restaurant have in common is the Rational ovens: Mark has two 2009 ovens with care control SCC61 and 101 Electric in the Urban Reef kitchen and a CM101G Rational in the hotel kitchen. All three are regularly serviced on a bi-annual basis by AC Services (Southern), and the company is constantly on hand to cover anything that may go amiss in between.

The food at both the hotel and the Reef is legendary. Food at the Urban Beach is served in the ground floor bar and bistro. The chefs pride themselves on providing locally available produce with simple, fresh ingredients cooked well. And they also have their own farm, the Urban Farm where they grow fresh fruit and vegetables.

Urban Reef has a 1950s inspired interior and design furniture, described by one customer as “the best place in Boscombe! Seriously cooler than cool, good food, good drink.”

Regular servicing

Mark has been using AC Services since 2012 to service his Rational ovens and the service is exemplary. Without the ovens, then neither the hotel nor the restaurant would be able to function, and in order for everything to go to plan, the service contract is essential.

AC Services (Southern) has over 40 years of Rational servicing experience and each service involves thorough inspection and servicing, guided by detailed manufacturer’s specifications and checklists. It has numerous benefits including protection of the manufacturer’s warranty, increased machine reliability because of planned servicing and a reduction in repair costs.

The Urban Beach hotel and Urban Reef restaurant have a reputation for being laid back and has a philosophy of quality not formality. However, in order for the chefs to produce mouthwatering cuisine such as glazed whole lobster thermidor with chips, rocket and parmesan salad and slow braised feather blade steak, creamed potatoes, seasonal vegetables, button onion and bacon jus, they cut no corners when it comes to checking the equipment. Whatever else happens, you can be assured that the ovens are up to scratch.


Published Date: 9th October 2014
Category: Blog, Case Study, News
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Oven Ready with River Cottage

Frances Taylor Photography_Rivercottageevening036Delicious food in a unique setting – that’s the River Cottage Canteen at Bristol, the newest of the brand’s venues.

Opened just over a year ago, the Canteen is housed in a fully restored Grade II listed 19th century church building in Clifton and since its opening, the venue has been living up to the River Cottage reputation for fine food and a unique cooking philosophy.

In fact, the awards are already rolling in: winner in the Taste of Bristol category at the Destination Bristol Tourism and Hospitality Awards, and winner of the 2014 Open Table Diners Choice Awards. Not a bad start, but with the calibre of pedigree it has behind it, it’s hardly surprising.

Canteen Origins

The River Cottage name first burst onto our small screen in 1998 when Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall brought his own brand of cooking to the, frankly, slightly over-subscribed celebrity cookery brigade who introduced glamour to the cooking pot! Ah, who remembers the days when there was just Fanny Craddock and her Johnny to watch?

Although the River Cottage headquarters in the south-west is perhaps the most familiar venue, with its Cookery and Chefs’ School and fine dining experiences, River Cottage Canteen at Bristol  has joined the other two such outlets, at Plymouth and Axminster to offer the very best in contemporary dining.

River Cottage Canteen serves people in the true meaning of the phrase: daytimes offer a dedicated children’s menu and for those who want to sample the goods, there is the option of ordering half portions (just in case the Asian spiced southwest whiting curry with steamed Oshitoshi vegetable salad is too much for your taste buds!)

Alive with the Sound of Music

Frances Taylor Photography_Rivercottageevening023And in the evenings, the place comes alive with fortnightly live music, seasonal cocktails and a place to chill out and enjoy the ambiance.

The Canteen is always offering something different, including monthly regulars Veg Out, Spice Night, Cocktails and Sharing Boards along with a host of River Cottage evenings, the next being Veg and Hedge with John Wright.

And to cook the meals, the Canteen uses a Rational SCC101 electric WE machine, which comes with an automatic two year warranty  should anything go wrong. Not that the Canteen is particularly concerned, as they have AC Services (Southern) to call on should the need arise.

As Hugh himself pointed out at the time of the Canteen opening,

“The best seasonal local produce is always at the heart of the River Cottage approach to cooking, and we are very much looking forward to celebrating and contributing to the vibrancy of the local food community in Bristol.”

Job done so far, Hugh. Veg and Hedge, a dining experience hosted by River Cottage TV series favourite, John Wright is taking place on Tuesday 30th September . Why not trot along and see what the fuss is all about?


Published Date: 19th August 2014
Category: Blog, Case Study, News, Ovens
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Long Distance Service at the Old Vine Hotel

Old Vine Hotel, WinchesterPicture the setting: a Grade II listed 18th-century inn within sight of the iconic Winchester Cathedral and the vibrant city centre, with an award winning restaurant serving succulent delights such as risotto of English asparagus, butternut squash, spinach with Grana Padano cheese or the self explanatory King of Pork Pies. Now imagine what would happen if the oven breaks down!

For some establishments this fate would be catastrophic in proportion, but for the Old Vine Hotel, oven breakdowns hold no such fear. The hotel, which was established in 2005, has enjoyed the services of AC Services (Southern) since the installation of a Rational SCC 61G four years ago. The fact that AC Services is based in the South West and the Old Vine Hotel in Hampshire is of no consequence to either party, as Ashton Gray, one of the directors at the hotel explains.

“We installed the oven a few years ago as a replacement for an old range and since then, it has been invaluable in opening up new cooking and catering options for us,” he comments. “The one problem we encountered, however, was sourcing a company to help us should anything go wrong.”

Problem? No Problem

As standard, Rational ovens have a two year warranty, but general wear and tear and unforeseen problems often arise, as with all large appliances so having someone to hand was a priority.

Unfortunately, we were unable to find anyone locally who met our criteria in terms of providing the required level of support,” continues Mr. Gray. “So we looked further afield and AC Services (Southern) had exactly the right credentials.”

Regardless of the problem, small, medium or large, AC Services prides itself on its immediate turnout and repair service for those in the area it covers of Southern and South West England and South Wales, whether it is a planned service agreement or on an ad hoc basis, as with the Old Vine Hotel.

Our oven is the workhorse of the kitchen. And without it, we are in trouble. So we have to rely on someone who knows what they are doing and who can do it as soon as possible. That’s AC Services – always reliable, always expert,” concludes Mr. Gray.

The Old Vine stands on a historic site that has seen the building change for Saxon and Norman Royal Palaces to become a tavern in the mid-14th century and now a well-established and award-winning hotel.

The Old Vine’s reputation has been built on its use of local produce and the quality of its food, and the kitchen has won in the Hampshire Hospitality Awards for the past six years. And although AC Services (Southern) does not fall into the category of local produce, it still provides the highest standards of excellence and quality that the hotel owners demand.


Published Date: 22nd July 2014
Category: Blog, Case Study, News, Service plan
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