Rational-a different kind of oven

rosenblumrMay 24, 2008

When a friend of mine who is a chef heard I was deciding between all sorts of expensive ovens, along with a steam cooker and a speed cooker, he asked me to take a look at this (I will warn you, pretty it is not):


(the link is from a reseller not the mfgr--But I highly recommend the videos).

After my friend explains to me how it works, and the price I start laughing. Something about starting at 30K, and having a ched come to my house for 2 days to program it. Then I see the price is 1/3 of what it was a couple of years ago, so I start thinking about it. It gives me everything I wanted from the Miele wall oven, the Gagg wall oven and the Gagg steam oven. Plus it holds more, and cleans more easily and will take up less room than 3 pieces.

I show it to my wife, she laughs, then starts watching the video and laughs some more. Then at the end of the 3 videos I get "I want that."

So I go trying to find out if it can go in a residential kitchen. Seems like it can with some minor modifications. I go for a live demo on Thursday.

Any chefs out there with any experience with this thing.

Taking all opinions, even the sarcastic ones.

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I have to say that although I am by a far a function first, aesthetics second person, that thing is pretty ugly.... There's something about the chicken and fish cartoony logos and the 50's space age styling that make me think that I'd be seeing this thing on an episode of Lost in Space.

If this isn't approved for residential settings, be sure to check your homeowner's insurance to be sure you'd be allowed to install it in your kitchen.

Let us know how the demo goes!

    Bookmark   May 24, 2008 at 6:31PM
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will you have another oven as well? or are you going to fire that thing up just for a frozen pizza? maybe a carpenter could make some sort of panel ...never mind, guess not!

    Bookmark   May 24, 2008 at 7:33PM
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I have used these at work and love them. It can cook many things in half the time or less, but the real benefit is total control over moisture and browning. Not only does it have all kinds of pre-set cooking programs you can use for every item, but it also lets you create and store your own programs. You can specify 4 minutes at 90% mositure, then 6 minutes at 50% moisture, then 2 minutes at no moisture. The Miele doesn't let you do that. Want beautiful breads with chewy crusts? Moist duck with crispy skin... I can't afford it now - maybe in a few years!

    Bookmark   May 24, 2008 at 8:13PM
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You might like something a bit bigger so here's a link. Maybe also a diesel generator to pick up the slack in case 3 phase power is hard to get. Many cruise ships use these units so you might want to see if you can get "close up and personal" on a working vacation/evaluation.

I'm getting one - when I win a lottery grand prize!

Here is a link that might be useful: Rational Dream Ovens

    Bookmark   May 24, 2008 at 10:36PM
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Who cares about cosmetics, if it can do all that, I think it sounds beautiful! Maybe it was the warning, but I didn't think it was that bad looking? Kind of an ugly price, though...

    Bookmark   May 24, 2008 at 10:37PM
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As a pro cook, let me temper some of the expectations of the previous posters. Yes, it can hold lots of programs, But remember, restaurants cook the same roast over and over and over and over. Most people don't do this at home.

Where I work, we order roasts that weight between 17 and 18 pounds and have them delivered daily. Can you get identical roasts every time you want one? No? If not, the program will be off. That's what the programming is for, cooking identical things (generally meats) day after day after day, especially when a chef is not around to monitor things.

As a long-time computer hardware guy (before I got into cooking for money) I can tell you that three-phase power is, at best, very, very, difficult to get in a home. So without getting three-phase power, you are stuck getting 240 Volt, 70 Amp single-phase power. This is a LOT of power-by comparison, most whole-house AC units are only 50 amps. It is doable, but expensive. You would probably need to up the capacity from the curb to your house, and get a new panel installed in your house. Again, doable-but expensive.

In short, I thing the unit is not well suited to a home.

Please, if you really want a combi oven, look at other makers of combi ovens, like Alto-Sham and Henny-Penny, among others.

Personally, a much better home unit that produces excellent food at a reasonable price is an Alto-Sham AS-250. See link. Note that this is NOT a combi-oven, but a cook and hold oven. Insert a roast or chicken, insert probe into meat, set desired temp and desired cooking temp (generally 200-250 F) and the unit will cook the meat until perfectly done, then hold it at 140 F (minimum safe temp) or whatever temp you specify for hours and hours. Much more practical, IMHO, for home users. Prep a roast at night, throw it in before you leave for work, and it will be perfect when you arrive home, no matter the time. Great at Thanksgiving.

Here is a link that might be useful: Alto-Shaam 'slow cooker' or cook and hold oven

    Bookmark   May 25, 2008 at 12:17AM
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cpovey - didn't realize the electricity requirements, thanks for pointing it out. I worked at a cooking school and got to experiment with our rational Combi oven. I got pretty good at eyeballing different items and coming up with one time guesses for custom 2-4 step programs for different items like breads, roasts, poultry... As long as I kept a close eye on them I could make mid-stream adjustments.

I still want something with a controllable steam program at home. Perhaps someone will come out with a lower power requirement/more affordable unit for home. I enjoyed looking at the alto-sham options. I've just about finished my kitchen remodel so we're financially tapped out and won't be getting anything any time soon. Still it's fun to look at the possibilities.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2008 at 1:47PM
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Hey, just wondering if you went with the rational after all.

A few things after research. A few months after you posted, rational introduced a new feature that descales the boiler when you put it into the automatic cleaning program (interior cooking cabinet cleaning).

You mentioned you guys laughed after you heard the price and what it does. This is a typical reaction when you don't know what you are paying for. Another poster mentioned most commercial chefs make the same roast repeatedly therefore not needing all the different programs. Another poster mentioned check with your insurance. you mentioned 2 days of programming. And another poster mentioned keeping a close eye and making steam adjustments.

These are all typical home cook methods of thinking. This is not what you do with a RATIONAL.

Ratioanl is a self-cooking oven. They claim to be the worlds only at this. You want to cook with a rational, take everything you know about using cooking appliances and throw it out the window. You don't need it.

With rational, you use the picto-grams (self-cooking programs). Then you select type of cooking (roast, grill, fried, broiled, etc.). Then you select you desired results (colour, internal temps, etc.) depending on what you are cooking. Then you walk away, forget about it until it buzzes at you indicating it is done. Why would you want to use it any other way? Yes, sounds like a lot of technology and that is what you should expect from Germany.

If you want to cook at home and the process is part of your entertainment, don't get a rational if watching it in the oven and monitoring it is part of that entertainment.

The ability to program is great and I think you can do over 100 manual programs. But why would you want to?

You also mentioned it was ugly??? Besides a lit up display, door handle and large glass, there is not much else to it. It is stainless steel and you can not even see 1 screw from the front (or any other side for that matter). Just wondering, what is so ugly about it? Compared to other domestic appliances, how does this compare? I think it is the best looking of all commercial appliances out there.

On the subject of residential, this is a commercial cooking appliance meaning chances are, your insurance will not allow it in a residence where people sleep. Some good insurance companies may give you guidelines that may allow you. A gas unit for sure would need to be under a hood that extends 6" on all sides and vented outdoors.

I saw a comparison to an Alto-Sham. i hope that unit is cheap because a cook and hold can not do anything more than just that. rational replaces 95% of commercial cooking appliances allowing you to shrink the kitchen. the only other thing you need is an open burner which I recommend an induction 2 burner. Now your cooking kitchen is complete if you learn to do everything in a rational.

I have to say I am jealous. I would love to do plated banqueting for my next Christmas or Thanksgiving gathering.

Fresh breads would be awesome and with the new unit they just released, they claim they can do fresh pasta and baking as well. I even saw a chef do creme brulé without the water bath (WTF?). i just came from a wedding that didn't know how to do it right (liquid flammable cover too which tastes aweful). They would definitely have benefited from a rational.

Note, you would probably also need the rational accessories which could add up. It is the only way to get the results they claim.

Unit requires water supply, electrical and drain for electric models. Smallest unit which you can do a small overnight roast turkey in requires a 35A breaker. When it is connected to potable water, you never need to descale (or clean the interior) as long as you use their cleaning tabs and clean it after ever cooking (approx. $2 per cleaning cost). The unit looks new again after the cleaning.

Lastly, in a home, the unit might never break for a long time considering it will not be used the amount of hours it is used commercially but everything breaks eventually. Given it would be installed in a residence, find out what service is available near you and if their insurance allows them to repair it in a residence.

Hope this helps and if you bought one, hope you enjoyed making the rest of us jealous.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2013 at 9:33PM
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