Monday, February 21, 2011

Are Combi Ovens The Future Of Sous Vide?

Is This The Future?
I was reading about Shola's post about the possible impending obsolescence of immersion circulators, when I read:
One thing I will confidently say is that the domestic immersion circulator market will be NON-EXISTENT in 48 months or less and IF sous vide cooking makes it into mainstream domestic cooking, it will be in the form of steam/vapor ovens similar to combi technology. Products like sous-vide supreme or sous vide magic are silly novelties at best and the only thing keeping them from zero sales is the lack of an affordable home combi oven.
I am not sure if he has the timing right, but I think that when low temperature cooking hits critical mass, there will be a shift away from immersion circulators/water baths and into something more like a combi oven or CVAP.  Here is what I find compelling:
  1. Elimination of plastic bags.  They are annoying and not green.  Not being green doesn't really bother me.  But, the consumer market is buying the green thing, so who am I to argue.  
  2. Crazy precision not required.  While temperatures can't range too much that they cause safety issues, sous vide in the home does not require  +/- .5º accuracy.  Most home cooks don't have anything close to this and are blissfully happy.
  3. Water management.  Similar to plastic bags, consumers will consider the water management annoying and wasteful.  Even if water or energy usage turns out to be greater with a combi oven or CVAP, consumers don't see water in, water out the same way.
  4. Space management.  If your conventional oven could be replaced by one of these, well then, we won't call them conventional, we'll call them antiques.
It does seem like water immersion may have an uphill battle inside of the home kitchen.  If the world does go this way, immersion circulators and water baths will still have their place in professional kitchens and with the prosumer crowd.   Even for the home, an SVM or SVS setup can act as a small second cooking device.  Lest we forget, American's love us some gadgetry.  Look at the Ronco Rotisserie Oven or the George Foreman's grill.

Shola continues:
If cost issues are adressed in both the Combi Oven and Blast Chiller market, I predict immersion circulators will lose at least 75% market share in professional sous vide cooking and have ZERO market share in domestic sous-vide.
I am unsold on the blast chiller for the home market as being part of the tipping point.  The costs would have to drop so rapidly on both that I have a hard time imagining it being an affordable option in the next four years.

Counterpoint: Whirlpool seems to be dipping their toe into the water bath with the Chef's Touch, which is a combination blast chiller, combi oven (with a chamber vac).

Counter-counterpoint: Said Chef's Touch's pricing: the combi-oven was 2500$ while the 7000$ blast chiller.  If you can cut the combi-oven's price in half, you are now in range for a consumer appliance.  Not so much with the blast chiller.

I think it is fascinating that Shola's insights align with the Whirlpool's direction with the Chef's Touch.  While I certainly can't claim to know the future, I do think that his long view is probably how things will go, although I am unsure of the timeline.  Although, I have also thought that: Betamax and laserdisks would win, that Internet Explorer would lose, and that FireFly wouldn't get cancelled after one season.

Finally, You should read his full piece on the subject (and really his entire blog).

Sunday, February 20, 2011

New Game: WTFIT.

Stands for, What The Fuck Is This:

Tell me what this is.   First right answer gets 100 points and one dollar bill if I ever see you in person.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Modernist Beat: Volume 2

Here is the roundup of all the stuff I read that I wish I could write more about but can't cause my life is too busy.

The Future Will Not Be Turkey Paste Extruded By A Printer
Cooking Issue's tackles 3D food printing.  What isn't mentioned in the article is that they are continually asked whether or not 3D food printing is how all food will be made in the future.  The answer can be found in last week's Cooking Issues podcast, which if you don't listen to: shaaaaaaammmmeeee.

Happy Birthday Bruno!
Bruno Gaussault's birthday just passed last week (according to Facebook).  Bruno is widely considered one of the father's of sous vide cooking.  Somewhere, the father of this father of sous vide cooking is beaming.  At a consistent 62ºC.

Never Trust Your Gut Brain
Scientists are pushing forward their understanding of satiety.  Basically, the enteric nervous system, which is made up of 500,000,000 nerve cells helps regulate hunger.  This gut brain is roughly equivalent in number of cells as a cat's brain.   Once the gut brain is understood, scientists can make food that fills us up.  Or, more likely, construct a single potato chip that causes us to start eating each other.

Ferran Marches On.
Ferran Adria has released more details on the elBulli Foundation at Madrid Fusion.  From the article:
The foundation will combine meals, research, landscape and architecture in a research centre, a documentation centre and a restaurant in a eco-friendly complex that is to open in 2014.
After reading the article, I have come to the conclusion that it will be even less likely to score a reservation there.

No Jellato Jellato.  Or Jellato Part Duo.
Michael Natkin over at Herbavoracious adapted foodplayerlinda's Jelly based ice cream technique by applying pectin to a chocolate base ala Ideas In Food.  The result is No Churn Chocolate Ice Cream.

Egg Fu
Shola demonstrates pressure marinating eggs (with white shoyu, mirin and sake) with his 5 day egg.  Use of grate to protect eggs from getting crushed was clever.

Escolar: The World's Most Dangerous Fish

Escolar is the most controversial fish that you are likely to find in your fish market. This firm, white fleshed fish has an incredibly ric...