“Brilliant” Rational combi steamer is a hit with staff and customers
West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds prides itself on the quality of its food – nearly all of which is freshly cooked in house. With three meals a day for the 450 patients, plus feeding the hospital’s staff and visitors, work is demanding for the 14 chefs and 57 catering staff. The main kitchen has Rational combi steamers, which cook most of the food.
In the busy Time Out restaurant, used by staff and visitors, there are some additional cooking facilities. Recently the hospital decided it needed to expand the menu and speed up the customer experience in the restaurant, but budget was an issue. At which point West Suffolk won a six-grid Rational SelfCookingCenter 5 Senses which, says catering manager Brodrick Pooley, was the perfect solution.
“It came totally out of the blue,” says Brod. “We’d entered the competition for a Rational combi steamer but hadn’t dreamed we’d actually win! We can cook loads of different foods in it and it’s very fast. For example, a batch of sausages takes about 8 minutes, compared to 15 or 20 in conventional ovens.”
Time Out is open 8 till 8 and serves around 300 meals a day. The menu is the same as is served to patients, plus a choice of specials of the day and snack meals. A lot of the food used to be cooked in the main kitchen, which sometimes caused delays. Now more and more can be put through the new Rational in the restaurant. “The freshness and quality of our food is what makes our catering so popular,” says Brod.
When the new combi steamer first arrived a Rational expert came to help Brod and head chef Steve Landells programme it with their own recipes. “All the restaurant catering staff were involved in the programming process, to make sure they were happy with the cooking results. It helped get them used to the equipment and they really enjoy using it now. They don’t have to keep checking the food, the Rational tells them when it’s ready. And they love the fact it produces really good quality meals for their customers, at the touch of a button.
“We cook all sorts of dishes in it,” says Brod. “Lasagnes, pies, jackets, braised casseroles, pizza, scones, breakfast pastries, croissants… During the football World Cup we had a special from each of the participating countries. Everything comes out perfectly, and it’s very easy for staff, thanks to the Rational’s automatic iCookingControl.”
Time Out is open plan and the new Rational is front of house. “Customers love the theatre of seeing food being cooked in such a high tech appliance. Thanks to the self-cleaning system, it always looks sparkling.”
Brod has noticed the advanced features of this latest SelfCookingCenter. “The HiDensityControl means that everything is cooked exactly the same, no matter where you put the tray in the cabinet, so the consistency is outstanding. Also, with iLevelControl we can easily cook all sorts of different foods at once. It tells us when each rack is ready and there’s no flavour transfer. We are looking at doing full breakfasts in it.”
Brod is also planning to start cooking roasts in the new Rational. “I’ve run tests in the past and I know that not only does the meat come out more succulent, there’s also more portions because you get less shrinkage with a Rational compared to a convection oven.
“That’s not the only money-saving aspect, either. The speed, ease of use and energy efficiency are all major benefits. Plus, the cleaning system is so simple – you just pop in a couple of tablets, push the button and leave.”
At West Suffolk Hospital at least 70% of all food is cooked in a Rational and both Brod and Steve are very impressed by the latest version. “Overall it’s a brilliant piece of kit. Given the choice, it’s exactly what we would have specified. So we are over the moon to have got it for free!”
The new Rational combi steamer at West Suffolk Hospital was installed by Combi-Fix Solutions of Bourne, Lincolnshire.
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.