Rational equipment helps New Forest care home face the future
Multifunctional equipment streamlines procedure and reduces staff stress
Hartwood House is a residential care home based in the village of Lyndhurst in the New Forest, part of the Cinnamon Care Collection, with space for fifty permanent residents. Providing them with high quality meals is one of the most important priorities, as head chef Danny Bree explains. “For our residents, we prepare two separate three course meals a day, with two options for each course, as well as alternatives for any dietary requirements.” Flexibility is an important consideration when choosing equipment. “We also cater for guests and visitors, so we need to be able to respond to changes quickly.”
During a recent refurbishment they chose to replace conventional kitchen equipment with modern multifunctional appliances. “Our old combi oven was constantly letting us down,” says Danny. “It would keep clogging with limescale, and half the time it couldn’t produce steam. We needed to modernise.”
The decision was easy. “Every chef knows how good Rational equipment is,” says Danny. “It’s the best money can buy.”
After careful consideration of their requirements, Danny selected a SelfCookingCenter 101e, the electric powered version of the market leading combi steamer, and a VarioCookingCenter 112+, a two-pan unit with pressure cooking and augmented with the optional VitroCeran hotplate. Both are multifunctional units capable of replacing a wide range of traditional appliances, with powerful but easy to use control systems that deliver consistent results.
The new equipment has already had noticeable effects on how the kitchen at Hartwood House operates. “The amount of time we need for preparation has reduced dramatically,” says Danny. “Overall cooking times are much quicker too, and we’ve been able to add new dishes to the menu with the new cooking processes open to us.”
For example, the ability to use the VarioCookingCenter (VCC) as a pressure cooker has opened up a range of new possibilities for Danny. “We’ve been able to use some really tasty cuts of meat such as shin of beef and oxtail, it really brings out the tenderness that conventional appliances take a long time to achieve he says. “We can make a delicious stew with slow cooked Oxtail, the residents love it.”
The addition of a hotplate on the VCC further increases its capabilities. “It’s a very useful extra,” says Danny. “For example we use it to hold sauces once they’re done, which allows us to continue using the two pans. It all helps to keep things running smoothly.”
The SelfCookingCenter (SCC) is equally flexible. Its advanced control and monitoring system allows each rack to be used independently, with operators being notified whenever action is required. Constant sensor feedback adjusts cooking time to take account of changes inside the cabinet. “Being able to prepare each element of a cooked breakfast in the same appliance is a real game changer,” says Danny.
Both Rational appliances come pre-loaded with a range of recipes, and each can be changed according to your requirements. New recipes can be created from the ground up. This feature has also impressed Danny. “It’s superb, it gives you simple instructions every step of the way. And it’s genuinely good – it makes the best rice pudding I’ve ever tasted!”
The support and training Danny and his staff have received from Rational has also been key to the success. “It’s been second to none,” says Danny. “We’ve had training days, cooking demonstrations, in-house visits to make sure we’re getting exactly the information we need, it’s marvellous. If we’ve got a problem we can give them a call and we’ll get specific answers to any questions or issues we have. I can honestly say we’ve not been supported by any company as well as Rational has?”
Some of the training focusses on how to use both appliances together. “We make the best chips with them,” says Danny. “We blanch them in the SCC, use one of our custom programs to fry it gently at 140°, then once they’ve rested deep fry them in the VCC. They come out wonderfully, soft on the inside but crispy on the outside, it would be a lot more time consuming without our Rational gear.
“I would recommend them to other chefs without hesitation,” says Danny. “Not only have we cut out gas use in our kitchen completely, it’s helped reduce staff workload on less important tasks, allowing us to work on improving the menu. The staff spends less time cleaning equipment, the residents love the meals, and I feel extremely well prepared to face whatever challenges are ahead of us!”