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How Can Sous Vide Cooking Save Your Restaurant Time & Money | The Tool Shed

How Can Sous Vide Cooking Save Your Restaurant Time & Money

While we know that sous-vide can bring great results to the taste, texture and consistency of your food, it can also be a great way to save both time and money in the long run.

And while this is great for budding home chefs, when you translate these savings to the environment of a professional kitchen, they become even greater!

We’ve conducted our own research to try and reveal just how much sous-vide cooking could be saving restaurants who choose to introduce the technique.

Shrinkage

Firstly, it’s important to explain the concept of shrinkage, and the impact that it can have on a restaurant’s profits.

Meat contains millions of coiled and tightly packed protein molecules, which hold the meat together and give it a firm, springy texture.

Protein strands also trap moisture in the meat, with most meat made up of around 75% water.

When heated, the protein breaks apart and contracts, which forces water out of the meat, shrinking the overall size and reducing the weight.

Of course, this is going to have an impact on your serving sizes and ultimately, financial returns.

An average cooked serving of meat weighs around 150g, so the amount of raw meat that you’ll actually need for that serving depends on how much the meat will shrink during cooking as well as the particular cut, its size, fat and bone content and the degree of doneness.

Generally, when cooking, you lose between a quarter and a third of the raw meat weight.

For beef, poultry and fish this is usually between 25-45% when cooked. Therefore, a 4 oz skinless, boneless chicken breast will yield approximately 3 oz of cooked meat, which you’ll need to take into account when purchasing meat.

Shrinkage typically depends on the product’s leanness, how much fat content the product has, how much water the product has.

The general rule is that the leaner the cut, the less the meat will shrink. This is because the cut contains less water and fat. For example, beef sirloin shrinks by around 16% when cooked, while brisket shrinks by around 30%.

As you can see, shrinking can mean that you wind up having to spend more on ingredients, with a lesser profit, but sous-vide could be the solution!

Example Savings

Below, we’ve conducted some analysis based on average supplier costs, shrinkage and weight loss, to see just how much you could save by cooking sous-vide.

Chicken Breast

For example, a roasted chicken breast which starts out weighing 283g will usually weigh around 218g after cooking, which is a loss of 23%.

On the other hand, that same piece of chicken cooked sous-vide will come out weighing 256g, a loss of just 10%, which, of course, means that you can afford to purchase less product when using in, for instance, a sliced chicken salad and make an extra profit of around 50p. This translates to an extra £19.60 per day, £98 per month and over £5,000 each year.

Traditional Roasted Chicken Breast Sous-Vide Chicken Breast
Starting Weight 283g 283g
Weight Loss/Shrinkage 23% 10%
End Weight 218g 256g
Cost per Portion £1.99 £1.50
Menu Price £12.95 £12.95
Profit per Portion £10.96 £11.45

Profit Increase (based on 40 portions)
Daily £19.60
Monthly £98
Annual £5,096

Pork Belly

With roasted pork belly, the shrinkage is about 40% when cooked in an oven, but this drops to just 3% when cooked sous-vide.

So, if you were to start out with 5kg of pork, this would leave you with 4.85kg, rather than 3kg, which more importantly, means around twelve more portions for the same price and an increased profit of around £100 a month and £5,000 each year.

Traditional Roasted Pork Belly Sous-Vide Pork Belly
Starting Weight 5kg 5kg
Weight Loss/Shrinkage 40% 3%
End Weight 3kg 4.85kg
Portion Weight 150g 150g
Number of Portions 20 portions 32 portions
Cost per Portion £1.49 £0.93
Menu Price £15.95 £15.95
Profit per Portion £14.46 £15.02

Profit Increase (based on 25 portions)
Daily £14
Monthly £70
Annual £3,640

 

Sirloin of Beef

Sirloin is one of the most popular pieces to cook sous-vide and with an 8% weight loss, compared to 25% when cooked traditionally, it’s easy to see why. This equates to about an extra five portions per 6kg of beef, which can lead to additional profits of over £3,500 each year.

Traditional Roasted Sirloin of Beef Sous-Vide Sirloin of Beef
Starting Weight 6kg 6kg
Weight Loss/Shrinkage 25% 8%
End Weight 4.5kg 5.5kg
Portion Weight 180g 180g
Number of Portions 25 portions 30 portions
Cost per Portion £5.28 £4.40
Menu Price £18 £18
Profit per Portion £12.72 £13.60

Profit Increase (based on 10 portions)
Daily £8.80
Monthly £44
Annual £2,288

 

Rump Steak

We also found that a 226g rump steak cooked sous-vide ends up weighing about the same as a 283g one cooked traditionally, which an extra profit of around £1 per steak, which accumulates to about £44 per month and £2,288 each year.

Traditional Roasted Rump Steak Sous-Vide Rump Steak
Starting Weight 283g 226g
Weight Loss/Shrinkage 25% 7%
End Weight 213g 210g
Cost per Portion £4.99 £3.99
Menu Price £16.75 £16.75
Profit per Portion £11.76 £12.76

Profit Increase (based on 12 portions)
Daily £12
Monthly £60
Annual £3,120

Of course, you also have to take into account just how much more tender the meat is too. With customers feeling like they’re getting much more for their money, this also means that you can get away with smaller serving sizes.

Other examples include the challenging monkfish, which experiences 10% less shrinkage with sous-vide, plus roasted short rib, which shrinks 15% less when cooked sous-vide, for a saving of 75p per portion.

As you can see, sous-vide could wind up saving you a lot of money when it comes to purchasing ingredients, but here are some more examples of less tangible savings that sous-vide could bring to your restaurant.

Time

While sous-vide cooking does, of course, take longer than traditional methods, but it’s important to remember that it does give food a much longer shelf life while your ingredients are vacuum packed.

For example, this means that you can safely keep cooked meat products for up to ten days, as opposed to just three when they haven’t been sealed.

This means that prepared ingredients can be kept to be quickly pan-fried or seared and served, saving you bags of time in the kitchen if you’re prepared to plan ahead a little and cook things in a big batch perhaps once a week.

Staff

No matter how good your staff are, human error is something that you can never rule out. This is especially true in the high-pressure environment of a professional kitchen, where even the most experienced chefs can make a mistake, leading to an over or undercooked meal for your customers.

This is one of the great things about sous-vide as it takes the guesswork out and guarantees that the machine will cook at a consistent rate every time.

While there may be a little initial training required, in the long run, mistakes will be massively cut down, which means better quality food, quicker preparation and fewer meals being returned to the kitchen!

Premium Results

Another great benefit of sous-vide is that it allows you to do a lot more with so-called ‘lesser’ cuts of meat.

Tougher, braising cuts such as legs, ribs, shoulder and bellies take a lot longer to cook with traditional methods in order to break down their high fat and sinew content, as well as using much more larger pots and pans and taking lots of staff time.

However, when cooked sous-vide, these tougher cuts of meat are much easier to prepare, with no risk of overcooking.

Not only this, but the results are much tastier, and the difference in shrinkage is amazing (as little as 3-5%, compared to about 40%) usually.

All of this means that you can start making a lot more money off these ‘lesser’ cuts of meat than you usually would be doing.

Consistency

Consistency is one of the main words we use when talking about sous-vide and it’s perhaps one of the most important for keeping your customers coming back for more too.

No matter how good you are, it’s always more difficult to achieve consistency with traditional methods and a lot comes down to the experience and skill of your staff.

When all your staff have to do is simply heat up the food and caramelise to finish, all of the hard work is already done, and you’ll achieve the same great flavours, textures and tenderness every time, which is ultimately what will keep your customers coming back again and again!

As you can see there are lots of ways in which sous-vide cooking could save you time and money in a professional kitchen, both in terms of spending less with your suppliers and in terms of making service more efficient and consistent, so why not check out our Professional Sou-Vide Shop now?

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