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Richard Ebbs: Sous Vide and Tomorrows Chef

9:40 am

Last week I had the privilege of training sixteen catering students from Highbury College in Portsmouth.

I often see chefs on twitter complaining that the next pool of talent isn't coming through and that new people entering the industry want to be a Gordon Ramsay without learning the basics first.
I was, however, incredibly impressed with the enthusiasm and drive in these students. All it takes is the right person to nurture, channel and inspire and I believe that pool of talent so badly needed will emerge. Certainly Highbury appear to be doing a great job.

One of the areas that the students appeared really interested in, was how to cook using our Buffalo Sous Vide machines.

Sous vide is cooking under vacuum, generally in a water bath at very regulated temperatures.

The benefits to cooking under vacuum are many...

  • Reduces shrinkage and therefore greater yield of food.
  • You can use secondary cuts of meat which may have been ignored before.
  • Wastage is reduced as you can have accurate portioning at the regeneration stage.
  • Shelf life is extended due to the vacuum packing.
  • You can intensify the flavours as nothing is lost during the cooking process.
  • Colour and textures are vibrant.
  • Food is cooked perfectly (only required “finishing”)

Today, Sous Vide is a big part of most top restaurants cooking methods and is finding favour with domestic food enthusiasts as well, having watched programmes such as Saturday morning Kitchen, MasterChef or the Great British Menu.

The Buffalo water bath, is a great piece of kit. It's compact yet still has a twelve and a half litre tank enabling it to cook larger joints. The main part of the body is made from stainless steel whilst the controls of the unit have a clear LCD display, a low water level detection alarm, a precise temperature control to 0.5 ⁰C and a 0-99 hr timer. It’s a stirred bath which gently pushes the water around to ensure that you gain an even temperature.

The Highbury students cooked ten breasts of chicken in one of the Buffalo water baths. In each bag was simply a handful of sage, ½ a diced shallot and a knob of butter.

We cooked them for two hours at 63.1°C before finishing the breast in a pan on one of the Buffalo induction hobs. We served with pan fried lardons, a smoked parsnip puree, dried cranberries and watercress and the flavours were incredible.

Hopefully the students gained a lot out of the days training. I for one am excited to see what tomorrow’s chef will bring to the dinner table.

By Richard Ebbs CFSP


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