“SelfCookingCenter’s user-friendly technology improves what we do.”
Catering for an 800 bedroom hotel, with over 30 function and conference rooms hosting a stream of events for up to 1400 guests, means the 70 chefs at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole must be amongst the busiest in the UK. Breakfast alone amounts to 168,000 covers a year! Catering equipment has to be efficient, reliable and able to produce a wide variety of meals.
Recently Executive Chef Paul Taylor replaced some old combi steamers with six of the latest Rational SelfCookingCenters, for the banqueting kitchen. He was so impressed that when it came to replacing the combination ovens in the lounge area kitchen, he chose SelfCookingCenters again.
The SelfCookingCenters were installed by Fatboys Catering of Stratford-upon-Avon.
“The Rationals help us with the sheer volume of what we do – we can have lunch and dinner for 900, on top of the day to day workload of the hotel,” says Paul. “We use them for a huge variety of foods, too, from buffets for hundreds to single a la carte dishes. They deliver quality, quantity, consistency and evenness of cooking.”
Breakfast is a case in point. The SelfCookingCenter 5 Senses has a feature called iLevelControl. This allows different products to be cooked at the same time, easily and with no transfer of flavour. “You can have different products on different shelves, and the Rational will tell you when each one is ready. We can do a full breakfast in one load, in one combi steamer.”
Paul says that the range of accessories that Rational offers makes a big impact, too. The MultiBaker tray combined with Rational’s ‘fry eggs’ automatic cooking process means chefs can prepare up to 80 fried eggs in just 90 seconds in one combi. “It’s quicker and easier than cooking on the stove and the results are excellent.
“We cook up to 1500 portions of hash browns every day for breakfast. We used to deep fry them, now we use the Rational and the CombiFry basket. They come out very good, crisp and not at all greasy. Plus we’re saving two to three drums of oil a week. We use the CombiFry for other products, such as wedges and French fries, with equally good results.”
Another accessory Paul likes is the GriddleGrid, which not only cooks product like burgers, steaks and chicken well but also gives them the classic sear markings, “It’s a very good effect.”
Energy efficiency is a key buying criteria for the Hilton Birmingham Metrolpole and the SelfCookingCenters are delivering big savings. “We ran tests that showed a 35% cut in energy consumption with the Rationals,” says Paul. “We also get big savings in water consumption, compared to our old combis.”
Cleaning ovens is a chore that the new Rationals do away with. “Not only is the self-cleaning programme very efficient and easy to run, it’s also cut our chemical costs because we clean the oven in a much more effective manner since the machine controls the cleaning levels. It couldn’t really be any easier.”
Another efficiency comes from greater yield from food. “We use the food probe and Rational’s pre-programmed processes to slow cook joints. The temperature accuracy ensures consistency and the yield is higher. The eye of the meat is always perfect and colouration is consistent throughout the joint – and it’s all done at the touch of a button.”
With so much banqueting at the hotel, Rational’s Finishing feature is a big bonus. “With plated meals, we use Finishing to regen and the results are excellent, with no drying out or condensation issues.” The Finishing process ensures no crossover of flavours, so vegetarian, meat and fish dishes can all be regenerated together.
The Rationals in the banqueting kitchen are the big forty-grid models. In the lounge, Paul went to the other end of the scale with two six-grid models. Although compact, they can get called on to serve up to 400 covers a night.
Before specifying the Rationals, Paul went to a demonstration. “I was impressed by what I saw. This is a very good oven. The features, the accessories – you could see the benefits they would bring to the kitchen. Now we have them, the team sees those benefits too. They’ve really bought into the way this new, user-friendly technology makes them more efficient and improves what they do.”