The heart of any commercial kitchen is the oven. In restaurants all over the world, the oven is turned on when the cooks arrive and is only shut down when the lights are turned off. In lots of restaurants, the oven is on all night, slowly roasting meats to be served the next day. Few other cooking appliances get the constant, daily use that ovens do, and using ovens is one of the oldest cooking methods in history. As technology has filled the world with marvels in the home and the workplace, the oven has also benefitted from new technology, and no other oven displays this better than the Rational.
Starting in Europe during the 1970s, a new type of oven was created. One that used both dry heat, found in conventional ovens and using wet heat to ensure perfectly cooked foods. These ovens, which are known as combi-ovens, quickly took commercial kitchens all across Europe by storm. One company, who currently holds 54% of the market share for combi-ovens, rose above the rest and created a technical marvel; the Rational combi-steamer. Rational AG, the creator of the combi steamer, is a German manufacturer of ovens, steamers, and most notably, their combi ovens. Throughout the years, they have perfected the design of combi-ovens and have created something that truly has innovated commercial kitchens all across the world.
Rationals fuse modern technology into the ancient tradition of cooking. In regular ovens, a plate is heated through gas flames or electric heat in order to create a warm environment and is regulated using a thermostat. Rationals do things a bit differently. Inside of the cabinet, a computer system is constantly checking on the cooking environment and adjusting itself depending on the conditions of the food. By doing this, dozens of different cooking techniques can be emulated within the cabinet; this is an oven that can pan fry fish, steam broccoli, or perfectly roast meat and hold it at a desired temperature. After it’s done cooking, it can even clean itself. The ovens come preloaded with hundreds of different methods that chefs can pick from easily and then customize to their desired results. Using a metal probe containing hundreds of sensors that’s inserted right into the food, the oven can guide any dish through hundreds of cooking phases. In many kitchens, the Rational produces the best results and is the hardest-working staff member.
Of course, all of this comes with a price and a steep one at that. Rationals are not cheap, despite the price coming down significantly over the years. They can range anywhere from $27,000 USD to cheaper models coming in at about $2, 000 USD. On average, a traditional commercial oven costs between a couple hundred USD up to $2,000 USD. While the Rationals certainly are more expensive, they can save a restaurant a tremendous amount of money per year by offsetting wastage losses, staff costs, and the cost of additional equipment, such as steamers.
What’s fascinating about Rational ovens is their ability to take so many classic cooking methods and styles, some of which have ancient origins, and seamlessly blend them with modern technology. Rationals are not inventing a new way to cook; they’re taking what has worked for centuries and putting it in a brand new package that consistently makes delicious food.