Cleaning House On Good Housekeeping

I really try hard to produce thoughtful reviews of any product I obtain for such purpose. I have been lucky enough to receive a couple from companies interested in having me look at them. And in reviewing some of my reviews, I have found a lot to be desired.  I am somewhat inconsistent, and I don't have a great methodology... yet.

That being said, I need to call out (another) bad review of sous vide equipment.  This isn't the the first time that I have called out a sous vide product review.  Last time, it was Gizmodo that bungled the review.  This time, Good Housekeeping's Research Institute produced a shoddy review of the SousVide Supreme Demi.

What makes this a shoddy review you ask? First of all, there is a complete lack of detail around the review. The reader isn't given any details on how the review was conducted. We know they tried four recipes that were included in the book, and that the reviewer didn't like the results.

Here is a quick synopsis of the four recipes:
  • Salmon Sous Vide (45 minutes): moist bordering on mushy. 
  • Pork Tenderloin With Apples and Pears (2 hours): Pink and bloody.
  • Braised Short Ribs with Barbeque Sauce (24 hours): very chewy and unappetizing layer of fat.
  • Pan-Seared Chicken Breast with a Lemon Almond-Butter Cream Sauce (2 hours): looking water-logged, more tofu than poultry. 
Is his issue with the sous vide technique, the sous vide recipes or the SousVide Supreme Demi?  With the amount of information provided, I can't possibly know.

Also, the reviewer is a college intern that appears to have no experience cooking sous vide.  How do you give someone that unqualified the authority to give the Good Housekeeping seal of approval or disdain on a product.  This isn't like it's a blog of some random jackass on the internet (you know, like the one you are reading).  You are Good Housekeeping.  You are a Research Institute!

DO. SOME. RESEARCH.

To be fair, maybe the reviewer just doesn't like the results of low temperature cooking or the recipes he used.  But again, how am I supposed to tell?

Finally, before anyone accuses me of being a SousVide Supreme apologist or fan boy, know this: I don't use one at home. They work just fine and i don't have any real issue with them, they just take up too much space for my NYC kitchen.

This issue is going to persist with other reviewers and other products.  And I will call out those reviewers just as fast.
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2 comments:

Anonymous said...

As a scientist and college student who cooks sous vide I can understand your frustration with the bad methodology and inadequate research laid out by Better Housekeeping. However, I would ask that you not consider the fact that a particular bad review was written by a college student as a negative, inexperienced intern yes- college student no. I would point you to one of your fellow bloggers a 15 year old kid who has more experience in hydrocolloids and modernist cuisine than many practicing chefs at http://teenchefteddy.blogspot.com/
By the way I love the blog it forever has a place in my google reader.

Pablo Escolar said...

Anonymous:

It is totally a fair point that the fact that the reviewer was a college student isn't totally relevant. This is more about a lack of oversight on Good Housekeeping and not about where the reviewer is in his life.

Glad you found the blog, and thanks for the feedback. Some blogs run on ad revenue, mine runs on compliments.

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