Filed by Anne Braly
The Blue Plate has cooking in the bag, so to speak. I made my fourth trip to the eatery not too long ago, and while talking to Chef Chris Hamilton, learned of an amazing process, that, I believe is new to this area, but not to the French who developed the sous vide cooking process decades ago.
I'd been wondering how Mr. Hamilton and his crew could dish out plate after plate of some of the freshest-tasting food every few minutes. Sous vide is the ticket.
"A lot of fine-dining establishments do it to poach fish or other delicate foods," said Blue Plate owner Rob Gentry. "Typically, food is held in a metal hotel pan and covered with plastic until ready to serve. This takes all the air out and keeps it fresh. When you go to boil the product, the seal allows the steam to leave the bag but allows no water to get in. We've found it really helps to keep our vegetables fresh."
Chef Hamilton said sous vide allows him to cook things in various forms by parboiling the vegetables first, taking the air out vacuum fashion and then bringing it back to temperature when ready to serve. But nothing, Mr. Gentry said, is prepared for sous vide more than 48 hours prior to using.
The cost for sous vide equipment ranges in the thousands of dollars, according to a quick Google search. But it’s the final product and consistent quality of food Gentry considers the most important. And naturally, what restaurateur wouldn't? Some, such as Mr. Gentry, just put a little more thought into it. The sous vide process, used also at restaurants such as Daniel in New York City, and Charlie Trotter's and Moto, both in Chicago, is apparently an ongoing trend being picked up at restaurants throughout the United States.
"We're committed to figuring out how to make our products from scratch as fresh as possible," Mr. Gentry said.
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