Rational combi ovens help St George’s school scoop healthy eating awards
Established in 1888, St George’s School is the only ‘all-through’ girls’ school in Edinburgh, catering for 800 pupils from 2 – 18 years. St George’s prides itself on delivering education and pastoral care expressly designed for girls.
St George’s School is also committed to giving pupils healthy, freshly cooked food – morning, noon and night. It has won two NHS Scotland healthy living awards to prove it. Meals are packed with nutritious ingredients and cooking methods keep fat, salt, additives and sugar to a minimum.
“One way we have been able to produce such healthy food is by using Rational combi ovens in our kitchen,” says James Ferguson, Foodservices Director. “For example, these allow us to make home cooked potato wedges with a fraction of the fat of traditional methods.”
The Rational combi ovens are used for most of the cooking at St George’s as they can roast, poach, bake, toast, braise and pan fry – and all at the touch of a button.
St George’s staff had read about about Rational ovens and then found out more through a CookingLive event at Martin Wishart’s demo kitchen in Leith.
“Once we’d seen the Rationals in action we knew they were just what we needed in our kitchen,” says Margaret Imlah, Facilities Director. “We initially ordered one 20-grid model and followed the next year with another two. A Rational expert came to help get us going and pre-program in popular items. But really the combis are so easy to use.”
Ingredients at St George’s are sourced locally, directly from producers and suppliers, with an emphasis on using seasonal vegetables and fruit. 14 full and part-time catering staff produce over 950 meals a day in the Rational combi ovens.
“The speed of cooking in the Rationals is phenomenal,” says James. “Lunch service runs from 11.30am through to 1.30pm. Now, with the Rationals, we can cook throughout the service time so the last to be served get the same consistency as the first. For example, battered fish only takes 12 minutes to cook so we can constantly replenish the serving dishes.
“On National Breakfast Day we fried eggs in the multi-baker tray – they only took two minutes and came out perfectly. We’d never have been able to do that before. Homemade beef steak or chicken pies are very popular as well, but before we had the Rationals we couldn’t produce the quantity needed. Now it’s no problem.”
The consistency of cooking is another aspect in which the Rationals score highly.
“The beauty of them is that cooking is so straightforward,” says Margaret. “In the summer there’s just a skeleton staff in the kitchen. But we can still make decent meals, anyone can use them. It’s very impressive.”
Building on the success in the main kitchen with the Rationals, St George’s invested in two smaller 10 grid models for the boarding house. Here breakfast and suppers are served for 56 boarders and 6 staff.
“We love them,” says Margaret. “We can cook pancakes on the flat griddle trays. It’s so much easier, less labour intensive and more reliable than using a pan.”
Healthy eating doesn’t mean the exclusion of tasty, wholesome home-made puddings such as chocolate brownies and apple crumble and custard. These are also greatly enhanced by cooking in the Rationals.
“One of our specialities, shortbread, is now really simple to get just right. We’ve programmed the settings into the memory so no matter who does the cooking we get perfect results,” says Margaret.
“These really are the Porsche of ovens,” says James. “Their reliability is second to none and they are extremely efficient. Another thing that’s great for us is that they record everything that’s cooked, temperature, times etc. We can transfer this onto a memory stick to produce printout for the Environmental Health Officers.”
“And what’s more they are self-cleaning,” says Margaret. “The staff love it and visitors say they’ve never seen such clean ovens!”
The latest Rational SelfCookingCenter 5 Senses includes:
- HiDensityControl uses patented dynamic air mixing technology, which precisely controls the speed of the unit’s fan to channel the heat and humidity to exactly where it is needed. This not only delivers outstanding cooking quality, but also allows chefs to maximise output, since they can load more food into the same size cooking cabinet. It also reduces energy consumption and cuts production time compared to previous models.
- iLevelControl tells the user which different foods can be cooked together at the same time and intelligently controls the cooking time for each rack. It means that everything is cooked to perfection, every time.
- iCookingControl regulates the cooking processes – even the most complex of cooking routines can be initiated at the touch of a button, thanks to the simple control system. However, numerous new cooking options allow chefs to adjust the cooking process according to their own recipes. They always know exactly what’s going on, since they can see the status of the cooking process via the control panel. This means no more time-consuming routine tasks, such as monitoring food, and more time for essentials such as creativity.
- Efficient CareControl further enhances efficiency by detecting the build up of cooking residues in the SelfCookingCenter and always suggesting the appropriate cleaning level. This saves up to 40% in terms of energy, water and chemicals.