Executive Chef and Director of Food & Beverage Michael Weisshaupt says RATIONAL ovens are irreplaceable in his kitchen at Fiddler’s Elbow in Bedminster, N.J.
Having worked with RATIONAL since the early ‘90s in Germany, Weisshaupt remains impressed by the products’ reliability and innovation.
“These machines have been continuously developed and reimagined; it’s incredible what they do,” he says. “They’re the self-cooking standard. That’s why I choose them.”
Although current RATIONAL models, including the iCombi Pro and iVario Pro, are extremely advanced, Weisshaupt says that even decades ago, RATIONAL’s products “had the valuable combo of roasting, baking and baking and steaming together, which made a big difference.”
That early lead in quality had staying power; Weisshaupt says RATIONAL is still the only oven brand he trusts in his kitchen today.
The biggest benefits, he says, include the quality and consistency of dishes, mainly due to the ovens’ superior technical capability. He can program them for exact time and temperature, with an alarm sounding when it’s time to move a product to the next step, from start to serving. This sets them apart from more conventional ovens.
“They help us to save time, prep and production,” he said. “I do a lot of overnight roasting. We can put the meats in at 10 pm before we go home, set the program, and the next morning, when the first person comes in, they simply take the product out of the unit.”
He recommends that chefs interested in quality and efficiency bring these products into their kitchens.
“Invest in it,” he says. “I recently went to a class at RATIONAL in Chicago, where they showed some of the brand-new machines. They are very efficient and time-sensitive, and when they’re programmed, they can be operated very simply.”
Efficiency, Quality and Consistency
Weisshaupt recalls bringing RATIONAL SelfCookingCenter 5 Senses into his kitchen several years ago. The addition made a huge impact on high-volume holiday service.
“We got the unit right before Easter Sunday so that we could use it for our holiday buffet,” he says. “Because of how quick and efficient RATIONAL is, it made a big difference to our service. We prepared food faster and with better quality in a short period.”
“If I cook a prime rib in a normal convection oven,” he adds, “I have to go in at a very high temperature, and at 450°F, the temperature drops dramatically down and takes 20 minutes to return to the original temperature. In contrast, within 2-3 minutes, the RATIONAL oven is back at the original temperature.”
RATIONAL’s multi-sensors and probes consistently cook food to a specific internal temperature—a huge benefit to a dish like prime rib. This temperature control is due to a sophisticated sensor that gauges meat temperature and keeps chefs on top of cooking times and doneness. Chef Weisshaupt notes that chefs can see results on meat, like caramelization and browning, within minutes.
“The six-inch probe has six sensors,” he said. “I can put that sensor right into the meat. I’ll still be hitting 110°F [on the prime rib], so it will read the lowest temperature, and the sensor will alarm me once I reach that temperature.”
Besides the critical benefit to food quality, RATIONAL’s self-cleaning feature is valuable for staff time and work efficiency. While it takes one staff member at least 45 minutes to an hour to clean a convection oven, what Weisshaupt describes as tedious and environmentally unsafe work, the RATIONAL is self-cleaning, making it safer and much faster.
“The oven knows whether there was much roasting at high temperatures, steaming or baking,” he says. “At the end of the shift, it tells you the soil level based on what cooking it did that day, what level to set the cleaning, and what amount of detergent you need.”
This type of cleaning, he says, means the stoves remain in better condition and last longer.
“I have a spic and span unit,” Weisshaupt says. “Even six years later, they look brand new.”
“Efficiency, quality and consistency” are the RATIONAL watchwords, and he recommends them to any chef or club operation.
“I cannot imagine not using a RATIONAL in my kitchen,” says Weisshaupt. “It would devastate us. We could run an operation like we do now without RATIONAL.”