My head chef and I had done a bit of basic research on sous vide cooking and were attracted by the benefits of quality and consistency that it seemed to offer. Being able to hold products without any reduction in their quality was another eye-catching advantage, especially when it came to banqueting.
We decided to go and check out some suppliers of sous vide equipment at the Hospitality Show and it was there that we met Chris, Alex and the Sous Vide Tools team. Of all the people we spoke to on the day they were the most knowledgeable and this, along with the fact that they were the only ones actually cooking and tasting on their stand, was what convinced us that they were the right partner for us. They made the process sound very simple and didn’t try to overcomplicate it like some of the others. The fact that Chris had used sous vide at a very high level also gave us confidence.
The next step was to visit Sous Vide Tools’ purpose built demo kitchen and this really sealed the deal. As well as demonstrating what could be achieved with sous vide cooking we were really impressed by the way that they didn’t try to oversell to us. It wasn’t about selling us thousands of pounds worth of equipment, it was about selling us the right piece of equipment for what we wanted to do. In fact, Chris’s initial suggestion was that we just buy a circulator to use with our existing pans and build up from there. As it happens we did buy a circulator, along with a couple of small water baths for holding during service!
Following Chris’s advice we started off slowly, initially just cooking pork belly, but soon extended this to other cuts of meat. We now cook items such as our flat iron steak, and brisket, sous vide, with the latter finished off in our smoker. And, because the end product is so good, we are able to use cheaper, less well known cuts of meat on the menu and they still taste fantastic. But don’t just think of meat when it comes to cooking sous vide, fruit and vegetables can also benefit – we now cook water melon sous vide, which really intensifies the flavours, and then chill it down afterwards.
There are practical advantages too. For example, we cook a lot of poached eggs but now, instead of cooking them to order, we put them all in the water bath at 5am in the morning and hold them right the way through service which is so much easier.
Chris, Alex and the Sous Vide Tools team really took the time to understand our business and what we wanted to do and I think that this, along with the undoubted benefits of sous vide cooking, is what has helped us to make a success of it.