Robert Brown Posted February 16, 2016 Share Posted February 16, 2016 For those of you who didn’t believe me when I expressed my belief that restaurant chefs were defensive about their use of sous-vide “cooking”, this one’s for you. As a couple of my new neighbors asked me if I had visited a certain up-scale restaurant, I decided, since I hadn’t, to write the restaurant and ask why their dish descriptions on its on-line menu didn’t state how the kitchen cooked each dish and if they used immersion circulators in their preparations. Because the chef was kind enough to answer me in short-order and at length (though as we will see, not forthrightly) I won’t state the name of the restaurant in question, only to say that it is not far from New York City; is what I call a factory-outlet restaurant with the “chief designer” being in New York City; and that the local person who owns the restaurant in question is well-known, but not for being in the gastronomic world. The chef-de-cuisine started by saying that not disclosing the cooking techniques isn’t meant to be deceptive or to hide them, but rather comes from the practice of all facets, and that the dishes “go through several different processes throughout the day from various prepping techniques to execution during service. (Whether he was referring to each dish or the dishes collectively isn’t clear). He then admits that “when immersion circulators are used, we use them for preparatory work where the benefits of accurate and consistent temperature controls provide the best product. These are instances such as poaching sausages, mousselines, or other force-meats that allow the protein to set without breaking the emulsification or creating air products.” He goes on to say that even though they use immersion circulators, they are not a kitchen simply built on “boil in the bag” techniques, and, that they do not use immersion circulators during lunch or dinner service except for poaching eggs during brunch, whatever that’s suppose to mean. He closes by stating that eventually they will “consider” providing such disclosures of philosophy and practices. I then wrote him the following, for which I never received a reply: “I greatly appreciate your taking the time to address my inquiry at such length. It is really kind of you." "As I understand it, the primary use of sous-vide doesn't occur during the meal service, as it is then that the dishes that have been elaborated or sealed in the off-hours, and sometimes far in advance, are simply quickly finished by conventional means. For now as I live near by, what matters to me is this: First, can I get a steak cooked rare in your restaurant; second, is the texture of the fish you serve going to be what I am used to in, say, restaurants along the Mediterranean and Adriatic coasts of Italy instead of the unpleasantly-soft texture that one increasingly encounters; and last, are the warm dishes that we would order going to start out raw at the time you receive my table's orders in your kitchen? Your reason for not stating on the menu how you cook a dish, which contravenes a centuries-old practice, seems to me like a tacit admission that sous-vide is one of the cooking methods you allude to. The coterie of inquisitive diners shouldn't have to ask if a chicken dish, for example, is grilled, roasted, broiled or made sous-vide.” Quote Link to post Share on other sites
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