Loudons plans for the future with Rational

Popular Edinburgh restaurant uses advanced multifunctional equipment as blueprint for future expansion

Based in Edinburgh, Loudons has established a reputation as one of the city’s most popular restaurants since opening in 2011. Its ethos is to create a friendly yet relaxed place, and to be as inclusive with its menu as possible. Director Douglas Humphrey explains. “When we first opened we wanted to cater for as many people as we could,” he says. “We didn’t just want one vegan option, one gluten free option and so on, we wanted to offer a varied menu accounting for as many different dietary requirements as possible.”

The success has allowed them to open a second location, but this expansion is dependent on the procedures they’ve established behind the scenes to allow them to scale their business. “We operate a cook-cool system here,” says Douglas.  “All our food is produced in our central production kitchen, it’s then sent out to the service kitchens each day. The food is reheated and then finished on site. This system lets us handle a large, a la carte menu serving up to 600 meals a day, while minimising cooking times in the service kitchen.”

With so many variables on the menu, they knew they needed equipment that gave consistent results and enabled them to work synergistically. “From the start we were looking at modern multifunctional appliances as the best way to achieve what we wanted, and after we went to one of Rational’s CookingLive demonstrations, we knew we’d found the right brand.”

Following on from a redesign of their kitchen into an open plan space that allows customers to see everything happening, Loudons has a selection of Rational appliances across its sites. The Rational units combine the functions of a wide range of traditional appliances, providing enormous flexibility in kitchen design and use.

The equipment chosen by Loudons includes a Rational VarioCookingCenter 211, a single pan unit with a 100 litre capacity capable of preparing up to 300 meals a day. Loudons also has several Rational SelfCookingCenters including an XS, a 101, a 201 and a 202. The XS can hold six 2/3 GN pans, the 201 can hold twenty 1/1 GN pans and the 202 twenty 2/1 GN pans. “It’s a very efficient setup,” says Douglas.

The XS is a compact table top unit with a footprint of 55.5cm x 65.5cm. This makes it ideal for locations with less space, or multiple units can be stacked together to expand the production capacity of bigger kitchens. At Loudons it is used in our smaller service kitchen, providing the ability to deliver the same a la carte menu but at a different scale. The 201 and 202 are floor standing models capable of producing up to 300 and 500 meals a day, respectively which enables them to produce large batches of food on a daily basis.

The equipment at Loudons has ConnectedCooking technology installed, Rational’s powerful networked control system. This allows operators to manage and control each unit centrally. “It’s tremendously useful for us, working over multiple sites,” says Douglas. “We can create detailed instructions for each recipe, before uploading it to all our appliances. This takes all the guesswork out of the process for our staff, they know when they start cooking that they’ll get the desired results.”

Executive Chef Peter Christensen is equally impressed. “Our process has changed dramatically since we got the new equipment,” he says. “It’s much easier to experiment with different recipes, and making changes to menus can be done instantly. It has simplified staff training, too, just press the right button and away it goes!”

He is also impressed with the flexibility of the Rational appliances. “The VarioCookingCenter is just tremendous,” says Peter. “It only takes 25 minutes to cook 35kg of potatoes, which is astonishing. Our unit has the pressure cooking option, which helps save time when making things like our lamb casserole. Using the stove it would take over three hours, it’s considerably less in the VarioCookingCenter.”

The SelfCookingCenter is equally efficient. “The great thing about that is you can fill up each shelf in a unit with different foods, and it will automatically adjust how long each tray needs to get it perfect,” says Peter. Rational’s iLevelControl is one part of the powerful monitor and control systems built into the SelfCookingCenter “The fact that we can do everything together saves time, and we’ve also noticed significant drops in our energy consumption since switching over.”

When purchasing new equipment, being able to rely on the quality of the after sales support is essential. Douglas has no complaints in that regard. “The ConnectedCooking system is tremendous for that,” he says. “It can automatically send reports to our service providers if anything does go wrong, and they can either send someone out to fix it, or even fix it remotely. Anything that reduces downtime is good, but this is excellent.”

With the opening of Loudons’ second location being treated as a test of further expansion, Douglas is already pleased with the results. “The kitchen here is the blueprint of our future, and it seems that with Rational’s help we can easily expand from this foundation.”