Big Boys Toys – Simple Sous Vide
Cooking sous vide is a hot topic. The cooking technique, which involves cooking food in vacuum-sealed pouches in a water bath at a precisely controlled temperature, is being championed by chefs as a way
of achieving perfect results every time.
To get started you need a vaccum packing machine and either a traditional electronic water bath or a thermal circulator and large container. Alex Shannon, managing director of Sous Vide Tools, the
UK’s leading supplier of sous vide equipment, is passionate about supplying the right equipment for chefs and businesses: “Gone are the days where sous vide is considered just for fine dining. We see customers from all walks of the hospitality sector enjoying the benefits of it,” he says.
Get the kit
Traditional water bath
A staple in many kitchens and instantly recognisable, water baths are offered in a number of sizes and will keep the water within them at a precise temperature. Happy to work away quietly in the background, water baths do all the hard work and produce perfect results every time and are suitable for fine dining restaurants, gastro-pubs and any food establishment. Vac-Star® water baths are the ultimate sous vide water baths. Manufactured in Switzerland to the highest specification, these Vac-Star® Sous Vide Water Baths have a 20-litre capacity and drain tap and are designed for extensive use in any professional kitchen, coming complete with a five-year warranty to match.
Price: £899.99 inc VAT.
Ideal for kitchens where space is limited, these turn containers (anything from a paddling pool to a small stock pot!) into a water bath, stirring the water via a motor to eliminate the opportunity for hot and cold spots. Easy to use and very reliable, they can be easily moved around or stored away. They
can cook items for up to 72 hours. Foodtek Platinum is a mountable thermal circulator that guarantees a temperature stability of 0.03°C between 20°C to 100°C on all cooking pots up to 50 litres and is
quickly fixed to any pot with its own clamp. Its space saving design allows for quick storage and movement between locations. This can be used in all types of fine dining restaurants, gastropubs,
hotels and food establishments. It has a 50-litre capacity maximum.
Vacuum packing equipment
PolyScience 300m Chamber Vacuum Packing Machine: – this is a perfect entry-level machine with one of the most competitive price tags on the market. It is also a great secondary machine (new legislation coming in requires two vacuum packing machines in every kitchen – one for raw and one for cooked food). In addition to the low price tag, this machine requires minimal maintenance due to having a dry
pump with no oil changes required. It’s ideal for businesses with up to 50 covers, such as bistros and cafes as it can pack up to 50 bags before needing to cool down.
Price: £849.99 + VAT.
Foodtek by Lavezzini Delta range:
300mm and 400mm – Used across Gordon Ramsay’s restaurants, it has intelligent features that save on cleaning (and therefore maintenance) and handles food more gently. The built-in liquid sensor stops liquids from boiling, reducing the chance of pouches exploding leaving liquid all over the chamber. The soft-air feature also reduces any ‘squashing’ of the food as the machine removes the air from the
chamber in a much gentler manner, further protecting the quality of the product. It also features the Rolls- Royce of vacuum pumps from Busch. Ideal for busy kitchens and for vacuuming stocks and sauces.
Price: 300mm – £1,689.99 +VAT; 400mm –
£2,399.99 + VAT
VACMASTER VP215 – 280mm
This heavy-duty machine is the most powerful on the market, designed for large-scale vacuum packing. With the ability to pack two to three bags per minute, it is considered the equivalent of an American muscle car, without the hefty price tag. It is ideal for production kitchens and event catering.
Price: £1,049.99 + VAT
Foodtek by Lavezzini – Cucina range:
250mm, 300mm and 400mm – The size variations give the option to seal anything from single portions (250mm) to larger portions such as baby back ribs (300mm) and whole joints such as a full pork belly
(400mm). Many kitchens choose to have a 400mm and then a 250mm or 300mm as their secondary machine depending on budgets. The Cucina range uses a Busch vacuum pump. They are designed for
continual use and can pack one to two bags per minute.
Price: Cucina 250 – £979.99 + VAT; Cucina
300 – £1,299.99 + VAT; Cucina 400 –
WHAT THE CHEFS SAY:
Michelin-starred chef and Great British Menu 2014 finalist, Adam Simmonds has two vacuum sealing machines, which he uses for hygiene and cooking purposes. “They’re very durable and easy to use which is important for a busy kitchen,” he says. Michelin-starred chef and two time Great British Menu finalist, Kenny Atkinson of House of Tides said, “By cooking sous vide we maintain consistency and reduce the stress and pressure on chefs in the kitchen which helps keep our staff happy. I’d much
rather get 95, 96, 97% perfect every time than 60% perfect most of the time and 95% some of the time. And, with less pressure on the chefs we’re able to focus on other elements of the dish.”