When it comes to patents and innovations in professional cooking, combi oven maker Rational is up there with the best of them. The most recent example of this is ConnectedCooking 2.0 – the latest digital networking for the kitchens of today. In a special Q&A, Dr Peter Stadelmann, CEO of Rational, explains how the company is seeking to reinvent the future of cooking and why the digitisation of kitchens cannot be ignored.
What is behind ConnectedCooking 2.0?
Like the basic version of ConnectedCooking 1.0, which we released in March this year, version 2.0 is an important step on the way towards the digitisation of the professional kitchen. We want to show our customers that we know the challenges that they are facing, and demonstrate that we can solve some of their issues with networked kitchens. In addition, we have integrated Club Rational and My Frima into ConnectedCooking, allowing over 100,000 members to link up their appliances smoothly and transfer the recipes from the database to their appliances with greater ease. As such, we have created one of the biggest internet portals for chefs and have gathered all of the international and networking features of SelfCookingCenter and VarioCooking Center here.
As a chef, how would ConnectedCooking work in my kitchen?
All SelfCookingCenter units from September 2011 and VarioCooking Center units from November 2011 can be networked. You simply have to register on ConnectedCooking.com and you will be able to access your appliances digitally. However, you can also use ConnectedCooking without having to network your appliances. After registering, you will have unlimited access to recipes, cookbooks and tips and tricks from our chefs.
How can this kind of digital solution help chefs with their everyday work?
Let’s say that you’re in charge of three or four restaurants or kitchens at once, and thus responsible every day for ensuring that the dishes served are of the same quality, that hygiene standards are maintained and that the appliances always have the most up-to-date version of their software. Up until now, you would have had to pay regular visits to each restaurant, install updates or cooking programs using a memory stick, check the kitchens and, of course, lend a hand yourself from time to time. With ConnectedCooking you can perform and monitor all of these functions on your PC, Tablet or Smartphone, no matter where you are.
How are users notified – do they receive status reports?
Yes, but ConnectedCooking offers more than just status reports. You receive status reports on your devices in the form of push messages, notifying you in real time of anything that has just happened. These might come in the form of a loaded, finished or service report. You can choose what you wish to be notified about. What’s more, you can transfer cooking programs: you select which programs you want to send to which appliances, and then you’re all ready to go. And to ensure that you have everything under control, only you can decide which users can do what on which device, thus ensuring that no one has unauthorised access. As safety plays an important role in the kitchens of today, ConnectedCooking automatically generates HACCP documentation. All relevant data from all connected units is logged, clearly presented and – a special new service – saved.
That brings us to the next question: how secure is operators’ data?
Dr Stadelmann: We are aware that this is a highly sensitive subject. As such, all data are encrypted with the latest technology. Apart from you, as the user, no one can have access to it without authorisation.
At the beginning you mentioned offering more inspiration. How can a technical networking solution serve as a source of inspiration?
With the first version of ConnectedCooking, users could only share their own cooking programs on their appliances. Version 2.0 allows you to refer to recipes and tips and tricks from our chefs, too. Over 1,000 chefs work for Rational and Frima worldwide. They have put together countless recipes and whole cookbooks that have been specially devised for specific appliances and are now available to download for free. By integrating the existing Club Rational and My Frima content into ConnectedCooking, Club members also contribute lots of international recipes and new ideas.
ational established an innovation process early in its company history. In addition to our product development procedures, all employees are asked for their input in optimising products and services. This results in a lot of ideas, some big and some small. If an idea is worth being pursued, it has to address one question: does it benefit the customer? If the answer is ‘yes’, the idea has a good chance of seeing the light of day. This process has resulted in the further development of ConnectedCooking 2.0.
Are there any costs for the users of ConnectedCooking?
As previously in Club Rational and My Frima, access to the recipe database and advice from our chefs is free. To use these services, you don’t have to connect up your appliances – just register with your email address. If you want to connect your appliances, you can register them too. This service is also free.
What do customers like most about ConnectedCooking?
Professional chefs are facing a lot of challenges: fewer trained staff and high cost pressure, plus diners who are more exacting than ever. Networked kitchens can take a lot of that pressure off by ensuring hygiene and quality and guaranteeing efficient production processes, while remaining flexible enough to respond quickly to changing circumstances.