|Is This The Future?|
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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).