As the industry continues to search for ways to do more with less, James Haberstroh, Executive Chef of Glen Ridge (N.J.) Country Club, has found an equipment solution in RATIONAL—a market leader in combi oven technology—that not only helped him improve quality and consistency but also allowed him to add a third shift and build out the pastry department.
When Haberstroh came to Glen Ridge in 2016, the club was embarking on a massive $12 million renovation. Included in that was the opportunity to build new à la carte and banquet kitchens. Because he had experience using RATIONAL in prior clubs, Haberstroh knew he wanted to bring the combis into Glen Ridge.
He started with two consignment units and, as expected, the many benefits and capabilities were quickly realized. In 2021, Glen Ridge upgraded to all brand-new units.
Today, the club’s kitchen features three SelfCookingCenters, an iCombi Pro and an iVario Pro. Haberstroh has also become a RATIONAL Certified Chef and helps train other chefs on how to properly use the units in their own operations.
He and his team use the equipment to prepare most food items, from meats and seafood to pastas, vegetables, broths and stocks. He also hired a pastry chef who uses the combis to do most of the baking in the mornings, prior to the club’s busy dinner shift.
Club + Resort Chef (C+RC): What were some of the biggest challenges these units have helped you solve?
James Haberstroh (JH): Being able to rely on this equipment to cook or clean itself overnight during what would essentially be a ‘third shift’ has helped us establish a better work-life balance. We were also able to improve consistency, quality, speed and efficiency. And because the equipment is so versatile, we were able to free up some much-needed space in the kitchen, too.
C+RC: What units do you have at Glen Ridge?
JH: We have one iCombi Pro 6-half, one iVario Pro 2-S, one SelfCookingCenter® 20-full and two 2x SelfCookingCenter® 6-full.
C+RC: What are some ways you use your equipment?
JH: The iVario Pro replaced our old tilt skillet, and we use it for things like chili, risotto, sauces and potato latkes. We use the iCombi Pro to prepare most food items, from meats and seafood to pastas, vegetables, broths and stocks. We use the VarioSmoker for BBQ and the steaming function for things like octopus. The iCombi Pro has been instrumental in helping us expand our pastry department, too. Our Pastry Chef can use it in the morning to prepare all sorts of pastries even though we don’t have a bakeshop or dedicated equipment.
C+RC: What would you tell a chef considering adding a RATIONAL to their kitchen?
JH: You won’t regret this purchase. This is the ‘technology of now,’ and it can help you establish greater consistency in your kitchens and with your menus, no matter how understaffed you may be. The iCombi Pro and iVario will help you to enhance already skillful dishes, while also freeing up your culinary team to do even more for your members.