Cuisine Solutions is fast becoming a force behind a food revolution. More than 5,000 chefs from around the world have made a pilgrimage to Cuisine Solutions’ 56,500 square-foot facility located in Sterling, Virginia to learn about sous-vide (French for “under vacuum”), a slow-cooking technique. Sous-vide first gained traction in the 1960s as a way to preserve foods. Soon, however, culinary experts realized that the method had other advantages. Foods that are vacuum-packed and then slowly cooked in a water bath retain their texture and freshness while locking in essential nutrients.
Learning from Dr. Bruno Goussault, dubbed the “master of sous-vide,” is a huge draw, even for some of the biggest names in the culinary world. Goussault is the chief scientist at Cuisine Solutions and the founder of CREA (Culinary Research & Education Academy). Goussault is credited with promoting sous-vide, beginning in the early 1970s. By the early 1990s, Goussault worked to establish the technique’s safety. After opening a sous-vide training facility in Paris in 1991, Goussalt moved to the U.S. and took a position with Cuisine Solutions. CREA educates chefs through seminars, on-site training, and online video courses.
Since Cuisine Solutions is now the world’s largest manufacturer of sous-vide prepared foods, you may have enjoyed some of its products without knowing it. The company supplies food to international airlines, cruise ship operators, the U.S. military, major hotel chains, restaurants, and retailers. Costco now sells a Cuisine Solutions sous-vide prime rib for $99. The sous-vide “egg bite,” a puffed-up mini quiche, is sold at Starbucks all over the U.S. and Canada. And through its Café + Teria program, Cuisine Solutions is working with schools districts in Arlington County, Loudoun County, and Alexandria City, Virginia, to create menus using sous-vide that include delicious, healthy, and easy-to-assemble lunches for grades K through 12.
While Cuisine Solutions hasn’t yet produced a cookbook, the company does publish a magazine that is available by subscription in paper or digitally. Each issue includes articles that educate about the sous-vide method, as well as numerous recipes that are easy to follow. For those not familiar with this method of cooking, what’s involved may seem complicated and overwhelming. Besides a foodsaver for vacuum sealing, a home cook would need to purchase an immersion circulator to control the water temperature and a thermometer that can be inserted into meat or fish to check for doneness. (Lots of options are available at Amazon at very reasonable prices.) Time is another factor. While vegetables like carrots can be steamed in minutes, cooking carrots in a water bath can take up to one hour.
Recently, Cuisine Solutions held a press briefing, with presentations by AJ Schaller, executive chef, CREA, and Bruno Bertin, vice president of culinary innovation. After being educated about the history of sous-vide and the process, the small group participated in a taste test, comparing the vegetables that had been steamed with those prepared with the sous-vide method. As they say, the proof is in the pudding. The sous-vide vegetables were not only more colorful, but perfectly cooked and far tastier. The experiment continued with tastings of everything from oysters and octopus to roasted pig face and lobster. We were then treated to a four-course luncheon that showcased a variety of sous-vide dishes.
For more information, go to the website for Cuisine Solutions.