meals to be cooked sous vide on the train
from Paris to Strasburg in 1982.
In America, the technique wasn’t as
easily accepted at the white tablecloth restaurants. Instead, it went industrial. Cuisine
Solutions, for example, where Goussault
is a chief scientist, provides sous vide food
for companies such as Continental and
Amtrak. Between 60 and 80 percent of
the dishes on Acela’s first-class menu,
including bouillabaisse, halibut and meat
loaf (which comes with corn and mashed
potatoes), has been previously cooked and
sealed in plastic by Cuisine Solutions. Corporate chef Timothy Costello says Amtrak
has been using sous vide since before he
arrived on the scene in 1999. Those lamb
shanks that were on Acela last spring? A
recipe developed by Costello that Cuisine
Solutions prepared sous vide.
“It’s worked for our needs,” Costello
says. “Now everybody wants to do sous
vide, and we’ve been doing it for 10 years.”
The technique got a foot in the swinging
door of the high-end restaurant kitchen
once Pralus and Goussault started offering
classes to chefs like David Bouley of Bouley
in Manhattan. (According to chefs I’ve spoken with, the two men have different styles
of teaching sous vide: Pralus focuses on recipes; Goussault teaches the technique.)
By 2005, sous vide started to get a lot
more press, including a New York Times
piece, “Under Pressure,” by Amanda
Hesser. The New York City Health Department took note. The government
is concerned about botulism, which can
survive in the anaerobic environment that
sous vide provides. Restaurants in New
York that use sous vide must now have a
certified safety plan, says Sara Markt, a
spokeswoman for the department. As of
press time, Blue Hill and Per Se were certified, but Markt says anyone who works
with the department will eventually be
able to cook sous vide.
Chef Pino Maffeo, who has been using
sous vide at Restaurant L in Boston, says
it’s not a technique to be taken lightly.
“If you don’t know what you’re doing
you could kill somebody,” he says. He
learned to cook from a friend’s father who
owned a sous vide company in France, and
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