Recently, I was invited by the folks at Cuisine Solutions to a deep-dive instructional course in sous-vide cookery. They produce the Cooking Light line of prepared meals available at Super Target locations and are at the forefront of producing an assortment of foods using the sous-vide method.
I spent 4 days at the Bouley Test Kitchen in New York under the jovial (but stern) tutelage of the godfather of this method: Dr. Bruno Goussault. If you can eat it, you can bet that this guy has vacuum-sealed it and cooked it in a water bath at a relatively low temperature for a while.
His 5+ decades of experience in this domain were condensed into an intensive weeklong smorgasbord.
He's trained some of the leading chefs in the world--Thomas Keller, Daniel Boloud, Michel Bras, and Anne-Sophie Pic, among others--in the art of sous-vide cookery. We spent the better part of a week comparing identical products cooked to an identical internal temperature that had been cooked and cooled at different rates (some high and quick, some slow and low).
A side-by-side comparison of salmon cooked 16 different ways; taking the internal temperature of an egg while it's boiling in a pot of water; "cooking" spinach just by raising the temperature of it in a vacuum sealer. These are just a few of the things we did. And they were all illustrative of how much precision goes into modern cookery.
And while much of this information is way beyond what the typical home cook needs to know, it was a fascinating insight into both the attention to detail and control that modern chefs are
capable of as well as how technology and science can be of service to food production. It's amazing what these guys can do with some food-safe plastic, a chamber sealer, and a water bath. It's certainly well-beyond the boil-in-a-bag stovetop dinners that I ate when I was a kid.