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Award Winning School Chef Supercharges Her Kitchen With Rational Equipment

Supercharging school catering with Rational

Rational helps award winning school chef do more with less

Woodlands Primary School in Formby is building a reputation for the quality of its food thanks to head chef Holly Charnock. Winner of the LACA School Chef of the Year 2020 and 2019 McDougall’s Young Baking Team of the Year, Holly is devoted to providing top quality, healthy food to her pupils.

Any school chef will know about the difficulties of using a traditional cookline. Preparing a range of healthy meals requires careful planning to ensure everything is ready at the same time, and Holly is always looking for ways to speed up the cooking process without compromising on the quality of the results.

Sally Davies of Sefton Council’s catering services could see the benefits of new equipment to Woodlands’ catering. “Holly is a very creative cook, but she was being held back by the old kitchen. We wanted equipment that would help her supercharge her talents.”

Recently the school kitchen was modernised, and Holly took this as an opportunity to add the latest multifunctional appliances from Rational to the kitchen. “The old equipment was really showing its age, it was difficult to get consistent results and it was tougher and tougher to find spare parts when they broke down,” says Holly.I was already familiar with Rational - other schools in the area use Rational equipment but after watching videos on Youtube and taking part in one of the online Education Live webinars, it was obvious how much the iCombi Pro and iVario Pro would help the team here.”

Working with Caterware, the company responsible for the redesign of the kitchen at Woodlands, she selected an iCombi Pro 10-1/1 and an iVario Pro 2-S.

The iCombi Pro and iVario Pro are the latest models of Rational’s market leading multifunctional cooking systems. Each uses multiple intelligent functions that monitor and control every stage of the cooking process, making it able to deliver perfect results in a fraction of the time of traditional equipment.

“The amount of time Rational equipment saves is incredible,” says Holly. “When I used to make Scouse, it would have to be put on at 8 in the morning and it would only just be ready at 11.30. The iVario can cook it in just 50 minutes, with the meat just melting in the mouth. Lovely!”

It also makes preparing more complex dishes much easier. “Preparing chicken curry the old way, you’d need at least three pans on the stove to sear the chicken, not to mention boiling other ingredients. The iVario allows me to sear all the chicken in five minutes, cook the sauce and vegetables in ten minutes and it’s ready in fifteen minutes!”

This speed is made possible by Rational’s technology. For example, the iVario Pro features iVarioBoost, which allows the unit to get up to working temperature in a fraction of the time of traditional equipment. Similarly, the iCombi Pro provides unprecedented control over the cooking process thanks to its intelligent systems.

The cooking technology is also helping to provide pupils with healthier food. “The old steamer used to take half an hour and would cook the life out of the vegetables,” says Holly. “In the iCombi Pro it’s ready in minutes, which makes it much more nutritious and lets us serve it as fresh as possible.” The intelligent assistant, iDensityControl, manages the flow of heat and humidity in the iCombi Pro ensuring perfect, consistent results every time.

“Rational has made our work here a lot easier,” says Holly. “We’ve got all our meals programmed in, so at the touch of a button any member of staff can start something cooking and not have to worry about checking them and moving them about in the oven to make sure they’re all cooking evenly.

“What’s more, it’s a lot cooler in the kitchen now as we don’t have to have two big ranges, a convection oven and a steamer operating all the time, it’s a more pleasant environment to work in.”

The new equipment has already exceeded expectations, which made the decision to upgrade them with Rational’s ConnectedCooking a simple one. ConnectedCooking allows for Rational cooking systems to be managed centrally, making it even easier to update and add recipes as well as providing full operating data, including HACCP.

“I think we’re only just scratching the surface of what’s possible with the iCombi Pro and iVario Pro,” says Holly. “When we changed over, I made the decision to keep a grill, deep fat fryers and one range because I wasn’t sure we’d be able to manage without them – but after three months of using Rational they haven’t even been turned on!”

For information and brochures, or to find out about free Rational Education Live online demonstrations, call +44 (0)1582 480388, freephone 0800 389 2944 or visit


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