When I moved to London after Le Cordon Bleu, I trialled at one of the top British restaurants. All I saw was a position by the vacuum chamber. Before they could offer me the job, I bolted. I’m glad I realised even back then, without knowing too much about sous vide cooking, that it wasn’t meant for me.
So what is sous vide cooking?
Cooking sous vide sounds fancy, but it’s much simpler than that. It literally means ‘under vacuum’. The basic premise is that food is cooked in a bag immersed in water which is maintained at a constant, precise temperature, yielding an evenly cooked dish. It is a technique used in several modern restaurants worldwide.
And how do you cook sous vide? Simply place the uncooked ingredients in food grade plastic bags, vacuum seal them, and place them in a water bath. Fit the water bath with a circulator or a steam oven that maintains a precise temperature depending on the food you’re cooking. While cooking meat, the bag should be pierced with a fine tip thermometer held with turbigomme to keep the vacuum intact. When the food reaches the target temperature at the core, remove the bags and finish the process as the dish demands.
During my course at Alain Ducasse in Paris, I spent a week cooking in the premises of a large scale vacuum machine producer. My views on sous vide cooking remain unchanged. In fact, my skepticism in a cook being able to develop tactile skills through this technique is reinforced.