Start to Finish: the equipment programming on iCombi Pro and iVario Pro enable Downstream Casino Resort to produce menu items with
consistent results at the push of a button.
Pick a temperature and turn the fan on or off. Those were the only options available to Downstream Casino Resort’s employees when using convection ovens. It was about as limited with their tilt skillet as well.
Eager for something more programmable, the Quapaw, Okla., casino researched iCombi Pro combi ovens and a tilt skillet-like iVario Pro—equipment that would free employees from planning their day around how long something was going to cook. The intelligent units also could help them turn out menu items with reliable results.
“With an iCombi Pro, you have so many more advantages because you’re controlling not only your heat, but the moisture and the airflow. You’re controlling every element that it takes to produce a consistent quality product,” says Greg Bolton, food and beverage director at the casino and a RATIONAL Certified Chef.
Today, the casino uses iCombi Pros instead of convection ovens and a rotating rack oven, and an iVario Pro instead of a tilt skillet. Skilled or not, employees simply push a button, and the equipment automatically cooks a wide range of menu items from beginning to end.
Bringing an iCombi Pro in-house marked Bolton’s first step in equipment programming for the Downstream Casino Resort. (He has since overseen the installation of iCombi Pros at sister concept Saracen Casino Resort in Pine Bluff, Ark.) Next, he set to work, starting with vegetables.
“Honestly, it was a hit and miss. There was a lot of R&D. But once we got through R&D, we started getting it refined, we started building the recipes and building the programs in the ConnectedCooking platform,” Bolton says. ConnectedCooking, a digital kitchen management solution, allows the casino to remotely program all its RATIONAL equipment.
Bolton points to how helpful RATIONAL was throughout the R&D process. “I can’t thank Chef Joel [Elliott] enough for being with me to help with this because we’re a very large property. He had a lot of history with RATIONAL and the products and he was able to help us build some base recipes.” The casino also turned to the RATIONAL ChefLine for support.
Once Bolton had three or four vegetables programmed, he worked on a handful of proteins and eventually, breads. He made notes and took pictures. Recipe by recipe, he built a virtual cookbook of sorts in ConnectedCooking using his laptop, though he says the units themselves will directly take recipes too.
Along with consistency, Downstream Casino Resort has realized labor savings and food waste reduction by using the iCombi Pros and iVario Pro. With the iCombi Pros alone, Bolton says, the casino can produce two to three times the amount of product with a third of the number employees compared with the convection ovens.
He points to the casino’s Spring River Buffet as an example. With convection ovens, employees prepared one large pan of chicken at a time and then moved it to a warmer with the hope that it would go through the buffet line before it was too old and had to get thrown out. Now, employees can put a pan of chicken in an iCombi Pro and it’s done in 12 minutes. They’re able to cook to-order versus in bulk quantities because of the equipment programming capabilities.
“My words to anyone who’s starting to think about the iCombi or iVario versus anything they currently have is, you’re not going to feel bad about making that decision,” Bolton says. “The support is there, and the equipment programming will make your life so much easier.”
All photos by Allison Rezendes