Rationalising cooking in East Sussex schools
East Sussex County Council is installing the new Rational SelfCookingCenter® whitefficiency® in all its kitchen refits
East Sussex County Council is responsible for approximately 20,000 school meals per day. The watchwords of the catering department are efficiency and quality. About three years ago East Sussex began replacing older kitchen equipment with Rational SelfCookingCenters.
“As a public sector buyer East Sussex has to look carefully at all options before making a choice but once we tried the SelfCookingCenter it was clear that we had made the correct decision” says Julian Breeds, Senior Contract Officer – Catering at East Sussex County Council. “We quickly realised the potential of the Rational units for streamlining our operation – we can cook better quality food in a much smaller space.
“The big plus is that we have changed many of our dining centres into production kitchens. Previously we transported food in hot boxes from central production kitchens to school dining centres. But with the introduction of the Rational SelfCookingCenter it has been possible to turn these dining centres into production kitchens in their own right. This has improved the quality of the food and subsequently increased the uptake of school meals.”
In their current programme of kitchen refits and upgrades, East Sussex are now rolling out the new Rational SelfCookingCenter whitefficiency alongside the many older Rational units already installed.
“We take out the old equipment of traditional cooker, fryer and steamer and replace them with one or two SelfCookingCenters and an induction hob. This is all we need in the kitchen now for a complete school meals service,” says Julian Breeds. “We can cook everything from rice, pasta, roast meats, vegetables, bread, jacket potatoes and puddings in the SelfCookingCenter. It’s all so easy.”
The new EfficientLevel Control® (ELC) on the new whitefficiency models means that mixed loads can be cooked together, further speeding up production. ELC is especially helpful in school kitchens because it ensures the best cooking results no matter who is doing the cooking. All the staff have to do is load up the individual racks in the SelfCookingCenter whitefficiency and select what is being cooked and how it should be cooked. ELC does the rest, calculating when each rack will be done and even indicating what items can be cooked together.
“Quality is our main focus for school meals,” explains Julian Breeds. “It is much better now with the Rationals and especially the vegetables – they are cooked perfectly every time.”
The SelfCookingCenters are installed over the holidays and once school starts a Rational chef visits to run through everything with the cooks. This gives all staff a chance to ask questions and see for themselves how easy it is to prepare all that is needed for the lunchtime serving.
“Staff have been quick to adapt to the technology as well,” says Julian Breeds. “Even staff who are sceptical at first wouldn’t be without their Rationals now. And the CareControl self-cleaning feature tops it all. Kitchen staff really appreciate that. All they have to do is drop in a couple of the cleaning tabs and the unit cleans itself while the staff go home.”