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CORPORATE CHEF Q&A: Rational’s Ross Crook on equipping pubs to keep up with new menu trends

Ross Crook, corporate chef

Ross Crook is part of Rational’s corporate chef team, specialising in providing equipment and menu support for pub operators. He reveals the kitchen trends and challenges in this sector of the market – as well as some of his own culinary inspirations.  

What culinary challenges do you tend to find pub operators encounter most these days?

Pub food has had to meet the increasing expectations of the consumer, including a wider range of vegetarian and vegan dishes, as well as ethnic cuisines, plus pubs still need to offer the traditional dishes. So the challenges are the variety and quality of the food, and the need to keep up with the trends. Plus there are the ‘standard’ challenges of labour skills, running costs and lack of space.

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Rational unveiled the new iVario and iCombi Pro cooking systems last year. Which functions or features will most benefit pub operators?

The iCookingSuite low temperature cooking paths in both the iCombi Pro and iVario Pro are ideal for cooking overnight, whether roasting joints or braising meats respectively. Cooking overnight saves time during the day and reduces energy costs while increasing yields.

What trends do you see in the pub sector in 2021?

There will be an increase in demand for home comforts, traditional pub grub and locally sourced products. I can see dishes like fish and chips, pies, burgers and steaks flying out of the kitchen. I also expect pubs to offer less extensive menus to help manage costs and reduce food wastage.

Tell us about one signature recipe for a pub operator that the latest equipment can assist with… 

As I said, I love British cuisine and you can’t beat a traditional pub Sunday roast. Using the iCombi Pro, I would slow roast a nice piece of sirloin or rib of beef, seasoned and rubbed with freshly chopped rosemary, thyme and English mustard. Cooked overnight to 55°C on the core temperature probe.

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Andrew Seymour

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