Rowley’s Catering has been providing consistently high quality outside catering and event management for over a decade – but its roots go back much further, through three generations of one dedicated family.
Since its creation in 1998 Rowley’s Catering has pushed the boundaries in terms of culinary excellence, but it’s fair to say that the recent introduction of sous vide cooking has been one of the most significant milestones in its development, revolutionising the way it cooks and raising the bar still higher.
Head chef and co-owner Paul Rowley knew little about sous vide cooking until he read about its benefits in a celebrity chef’s cookbook. Impressed with the concept, he contacted market leader Sous Vide Tools (SVT) to find out more. He soon found himself on a course hosted by SVT chef director Chris Holland, which turned out to be the first of several courses undertaken by Rowley and his kitchen team.
“For us, sous vide was a no brainer,” explains Rowley. “It’s like having an extra commis chef. The sous vide method seals in all the juices from the product that you might lose in conventional cooking. At the same time, you can easily infuse products by adding seasonings that are sealed into the bags. If you cook fruit and vegetable, for example, you can use all the great flavours from the juices to make sauces and coulis.
“Using fresh local ingredients wherever possible we offer diners everything from elegant canapés to lavish gourmet feasts,” explains Rowley. ”By using sous vide, we save on heavy-duty equipment hire when doing events by not using coolers and the like. All we need are sous vide baths, and these also use less energy than electric ovens or expensive gas equipment.
“The products are easily and hygienically packaged ready to be transported from the preparation kitchen at our base to the venue kitchen. There are cost benefits as well because the method tenderises cheap cuts of meat, making it more cost effective than using the more traditional expensive cuts. What’s more, the products have a longer shelf life when vac packed in the sous vide bags, and they can be blast chilled for later use if necessary, avoiding wastage. Sous vide also helps with portion control, ensuring we give every customer the same size portion, and there’s no weight loss during the process.”
Among the foods that Rowley and his team cook sous vide are feather blade of beef, shin of beef, steaks, lamb rack and shoulder, all types of meaty fish such as halibut and brill, vegetables and fruit. Rowley’s favourite however, is the pork belly, which is crisped up in a pan and put it into a hot oven for ten minutes before serving.
Rowley sums up: “Really there are no negatives to sous vide cooking. It’s easy to get to grips with once you have gained all the information from the SVT course, and Chris is always on the end of the phone if we have any questions. Coupled with the cost savings, how can you go wrong?”