Made popular by molecular gastronomists Ferran Adrià, Grant Achatz, Heston Blumenthal and Toronto’s own Claudio Aprile, sous vide – French for “under vacuum” – is a gentler way to cook. In truth, celebrity chefs just made it sexy. Big food corporations in the business of feeding the masses – think airline and railway caterers, and the military – have been preparing food this way for decades.
But don’t think sous vide is just a fancy way of saying boil-in-the-bag. Boiling never enters into the equation. Sous-vide cooking temperatures tend to range between 57 C (134 F) and 71 C (160 F). Foods, along with a drop of oil or butter, and some herbs and spices, are vacuum-sealed in a plastic bag, then either floated in a hot water bath or, as is the Gaggenau way, popped into the 400 Series Combi-Steam Oven to cook low and slow. What emerges – ranging from meltingly tender meat or fish to delicately poached root veggies or even fruit – is intensely flavourful and more nutritious.
Sous-vide cooking naturally intensifies a food’s own flavour, so less salt is needed, and because the pouch is airtight, all of the food’s natural nutrients, juices and fats are retained, and there are no added fats from cooking oil and nothing is lost to a cooking pan or to the air – food cooked sous-vide means zero shrinkage. As well, it tastes great, looks great and is great for you, nutrition-wise.
Gaggenau chef Nikko Jacino glides from cutting board to a sleek, yet discreet under-the-counter vacuum-sealer drawer to steam oven, making prepping the night’s tasting menu look way too easy.
Growing up in a food-loving Italian home, cooking with real, fresh and seasonal ingredients was simply part of everyday life. Now, at 27 he has a natural ease with both iron-age and cutting-edge culinary tools and technology, as well as a passion for feeding groups of hungry – and critical – foodies.
Chef Nikko explains how sous vide gives him an edge. “Sous vide allows me more flexibility with my cooking processes while delivering outstanding results. It’s also a very forgiving way to cook. From vegetables to meats and desserts, it employs lower temperatures than conventional cooking methods, which in turn allows for food to cook under less stressful environments. This gives novice cooks at home an advantage, allowing them to create restaurant quality dishes without years of training and experience.”
Nikko Jacino, Executive Chef, Luxe Appliance Studio
Photo: Thomas Bollmann
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Food and drink enthusiasts were in for a culinary treat at a recent event held at downtown Toronto’s sleek and stylish Luxe Kitchen Appliance Studio, where cocktails and sous vide tapas proved surprisingly natural partners.