A Rational is ‘like having an extra chef’ for Bird of Smithfield
Alan Bird’s new venture uses SelfCookingCenters for ‘just about everything’
“We wanted a restaurant to give customers the space and ambience of a members club, without them having to be members,” says Alan Bird about his latest venture, Bird of Smithfield. “It took a while to find, but as soon as we saw this Georgian town house in Smithfield Street we knew it was right. Each of the five floors has its own vibe, and we have two kitchens, on the first floor for the main restaurant and the second floor for the private dining area. With the different areas and events, too, we can be feeding up to 250 people a day. We use Rationals for 80% of our cooking – I didn’t want any other ovens in my kitchens.”
Food at Bird of Smithfield is modern British. “We’re after classic dishes cooked very well, using the best ingredients, sourced seasonally from the UK.”
Alan has been working with Rational combi steamers for over twenty years – when he was at The Ivy he even tested prototypes of new models for the company. “It’s their flexibility, you can use them on so many different levels and for so many different foods, the accuracy, the control, the reliability, and the fact they are multifunctional.”
Bird of Smithfield’s main kitchen has two six-grid SelfCookingCenter whitefficiency models, the private dining kitchen has a ten-grid unit. “The new models have several features I really like,” says Alan. “HiDensityControl is brilliant for pastry. The Efficient LevelControl makes it’s easy to cook different foods on different shelves, with each shelf having its own timer. You can cook fish and meat together, with no transfer of flavours. We’ve even experimented with doing a full English breakfast, from toast to bacon to fried eggs, all at the same time in the Rational.”
Like many restaurants in London, space is at a premium and the kitchens in Bird of Smithfield are tight. “Conventional kitchens would have salamanders, ranges, solid tops and ovens belting out heat all day. We’ve got the Rationals, and our ranges have refrigeration drawers underneath. The Rationals save space not only because they take the place of so many other bits of kit, but also because, unlike most combi steamers, they don’t need separate water softeners. Descaling is sorted internally by the CareControl system. Because you don't need a softener it saves a lot of money, too, both in terms of up-front installation costs and ongoing servicing.”
Bird of Smithfield is a member of the Sustainable Restaurant Association. “We organise and recycle our waste, including oil, we don’t buy bottled water, we use our own water, filtered on site, and we specify energy saving equipment, including the refrigeration and the combi steamers. We try to be as green as possible. The Rationals fit in perfectly.
“We use them for everything: to roast, braise, for pastry and bread, for long cooking, baking, you name it,” says Alan. “We also use Rational’s accessories. They extend the combi’s flexibility even more, such as the flat plate for pizza, the rotisserie, and the griddle plate is great for cooking and sear-marking burgers and steaks, the non stick surface is excellent. We’ve used the Multibaker tray to make fried eggs, Yorkshire puddings and cookies.”
Alan is impressed by the automatic SelfCooking Controls. “Just chose the process, push the button and let the Rational get on with it. They are great for all sorts of food, from bread to roast beef.
“They can do so much, they’re a dream to work with. Having a Rational is like having an extra chef in the kitchen.”
In the second floor private dining room there’s a window looking into the kitchen, so it’s almost like a chef’s table. “The customers are gobsmacked when they see the Rational operating – it’s state-of-the-art technology, they just don't realise this kind of stuff exists! As for the staff, they love the SelfCookingCenters. They’re the best bits of kit we could possibly be working on – they bring a smile to your face.”
For information and brochures, or to arrange to come to a free SelfCookingCenter® whitefficiency® ‘Rational CookingLive’ seminar, contact your dealer, freephone Rational UK on 0800 389 2944 or see www.rational-UK.com. Visit the iPhone store for the Rational SCC Expert App.
Bird of Smithfield.docx – Aug-13
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The Rational units at Bird of Smithfield:
2 x 6 grid SelfCookingCenter whitefficiency SCC61, electric powered.
1 x 10 grid SelfCookingCenter whitefficiency SCC61, gas powered.
Bird of Smithfield is at 26 Smithfield Street London EC1A 9LB. There are five floors: the basement is a cocktail bar with a ‘speakeasy’ feel. It also hosts events. On the ground floor is the bar and lounge, where customers can relax with bar snacks, coffee and a drink. The first floor dining room has 46 covers, is open for lunch and dinner offering an a la carte menu. The second floor has a beautiful private dining room with lounge area. There are also facilities such as projector screens. The top floor roof terrace has a cocktail bar, large designer umbrellas providing shade and protection, a glass balustrade with views over Smithfield, a humidor and smoking area.