For home cooks who need to impress their guests, the sous vide method has turned out to be the ultimate “secret weapon” for cooking the perfect steak. However, this is not simply a “hack” used by amateurs: over the past couple of years, fine dining establishments have embraced the sous vide technique as well.
What Restaurants use Sous Vide? The answer is many! Michelin-star winners French Laundry, and world-renowned Jamie Oliver are now openly touting the benefits of sous vide techniques. However, many other traditional steakhouses and fast-casual chains also use this technique
Let’s take a deeper look at the type of restaurants using sous vide and why
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What is Sous Vide?
Sous Vide is a slow-cooking method designed to cook meats and vegetables alike to perfection in a consistent manner.
This technique uses long immersion times in a warm – not hot – water bath. In order to do this, you must first season your food, place it inside an airtight plastic bag and vacuum seal it.
Then, the food needs to be placed inside an immersion circulator: a special water pot that allows you to set the water inside at a specific, consistent temperature. Sous vide usually uses temperatures well below the boiling point (between 120 and 155 F°). This will cook the food very slowly, but the surrounding water will prevent the food’s temperature from rising past a certain point. As a result, it will be practically impossible to overcook the food.
Sous vide cooking can take about 2 hours, but the food will remain “just right” for up to 4 hours. Right before it’s time to eat, you just need to remove the food from the bag, let it cool off, and then sear it for a few seconds on a very hot cast iron skillet
What are the Benefits of Sous Vide?
For amateur home chefs, the main benefit of sous vide cooking is that it prevents you from overcooking the food, or from ruining a premium piece of steak. In this way, you can get a perfectly cooked steak, without burning the outer layer or leaving the inside raw.
However, restaurants are supposed to keep professional chefs at hand – who should have no trouble making a medium rare steak without any incidents. In such cases, the benefits of sous vide lie in its consistency: the precise temperatures needed for each cut of meat become a matter of adjusting an immersion circulator. The steaks will always be cooked through to perfection, without the need for a dedicated chef who is only watching them.
Plus, in very busy venues, sous vide allows chefs to prep for a rush ahead of time. In this way, the meat for the dinner shift can be cooked in the morning. Then, with the help of a few vacuum sealers, you can have everything ready for a client in 3 minutes.
Sous vide and Fine Dining: What restaurants Use Sous vide?
Fine dining establishments usually protect their recipes and methods as much as possible, as it is considered a trade secret. However, the following brands and chefs have now opened up about their use of sous vide cooking methods.
The French Laundry
One of Napa Valley’s most famous restaurants, The French Laundry has two Michelin stars, a famous chef, and an exclusive clientele. Chef Thomas Keller was among the first to openly tout the benefits of sous vide and turned them as part of his brand. His restaurant’s signature dish, the butter-poached lobster, uses sous vide to cook an entire lobster to perfection
Health-eating guru, TV star, and entrepreneur Jamie Oliver even has a restaurant group named after him, with venues in London, New York, Lisbon, and Hong Kong. Jamie Oliver was one of the first to openly show how he used sous vide to cook the perfect steak in one of his TV shows.
Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay not only uses sous vide in his restaurants but has even included it as a test on his reality TV cooking competition, Hell’s Kitchen.
Chipotle Mexican Grill
On the other end of the spectrum, Chipotle Mexican Grill is one of the largest fast-casual chains across the United States. For them, the use of sous vide helps them prepare large amounts of meat ahead of time, and therefore serve an instant crowd at their doorstep with very short notice. They also use this technique with their vegetables as part of their food safety guidelines.
The sous vide technique takes advantage of basic physics and chemistry, but it is secretly changing the way restaurants are run. Using a vacuum seal machine and water at the right temperature, allows you to eliminate many of the mistakes that often happen when trying to whip something up at the last minute.