Do restaurants use sous vide? You and I have wondered about it! I’m going to look at whether that’s true in this day and age. Spoiler alert, professional chefs do use sous vide.
In the culinary world today, very few professional chefs do not use sous vide in their cooking, although most choose to keep their lips sealed about it (pun intended).
True story, to my delight I saw a chef putting away a sous vide machine at my favorite local restaurant. Don’t believe me? Ever watch the Bradley Cooper movie Burnt? If not, watch it to see how common sous vide cooking is at high end restaurants.
Professional chefs swear by sous vide for its ability to make quality control that much easier. Sous vide cooking gives chefs precise doneness in steak and other foods. The best thing is you, the customer, get to enjoy the perfectly cooked medium-rare steak.
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Do Restaurants Use Sous Vide
Yes. Restaurants need to maintain consistency in all of the dishes that they serve, so using sous vide to maintain that quality is one of the simplest ways restaurants can combine quick foodservice speed with high-quality food that results in happy customers, and higher table turnover (which means more profits for the restaurant overall).
Do Restaurants Pre-Cook Steak
Plenty of restaurants pre-cook their steaks using sous vide, then finish off the surface browning and searing qualities on the grill.
Do Steakhouses Cook Sous Vide
Steakhouses across the U.S use sous vide cooking as a way to prepare large quantities of steaks, in anticipation of a large service. This allows them to cut down on prep, and speed up service from the kitchen to the floor.
With the advantages, do all steakhouses use the sous vide process?
Does Ruth’s Chris Use Sous Vide
Ruth’s Chris does not use sous vide in cooking their steaks. Ruth’s Chris tenderizes their high-quality meat through a complex wet aging process, which usually takes up to a few weeks or months. This results in the juicy steaks you’re served at the high-end restaurant Ruth’s Chris.
Once your order is taken, your steak is cooked under an extremely hot and precise broiler. That’s a setup that only professional kitchens can accommodate due to the high exhaust ventilation required to handle this kind of food preparation.
Home chefs will find it hard to replicate this cooking process due to the cost of the broiler setup alone. A single burner head can cost more than home ovens. Most home kitchens also aren’t engineered to handle the kind of heat produced in a Ruth’s Chris kitchen.
But does that mean all restaurants do not use the sous vide style of cooking? Nope, plenty of restaurants use the sous vide process.
What Restaurants Use Sous Vide?
1. French Laundry (Yountville, CA) and 2. Per Se (New York, NY)
These two Michelin 3-star restaurants are from the man widely known as one of the world’s best chefs, Thomas Keller. Keller openly celebrates sous vide cooking.
So much so that he wrote the immensely popular ode to sous vide cooking, Under Pressure. Braised short ribs and foie gras are among Keller’s favorites to serve cooked sous vide.
Fun fact, as of 2022, there are only 147 Michelin restaurants in the world rated 3-stars. 3-stars is the most prestigious rating, which designates “exceptional cuisine that is worth a special journey”.
3. Kayne Prime (Nashville, TN)
The concept of the great American steakhouse takes a slightly progressive twist at Kayne Prime, where design, cuisine and mixology come together to create a modern dining experience. Their sous vide cooked steak is one of the restaurant’s most praised dishes.
4. Equinox (Washington, D.C)
Equinox (not the gym) is a well-known restaurant in the D.C area for it’s fusion take on mid-Atlantic and seasonal cuisine. Sous vide food is all over the constantly changing menu served here.
Chef Todd Gray believes that the sous vide method allows him to integrate the flavors of herbs and spices in his dishes the way conventional methods, such as sauteing and roasting cannot.
5. Beaker & Gray (Miami, FL)
The woodsy interiors of Beaker & Gray produce some of the best grilled jerk chicken thighs and Cuban lechon. Both start out spice rubbed, sealed in individual vacuum bags, and cooked sous vide before hitting the grill for a quick sear and crisp.
4. Laurel (Passyunk, PA)
Philadelphia’s vibrant culinary scene has seen the humble immersion circulator become an increasingly popular cooking tool in some of the city’s best kitchens. In Laurel, chef Nicholas Elmi prefers sous vide to cook things like chicken breast, pork, shellfish and vegetables.
According to him, sous vide gives him the consistency he needs to make and serve high quality dishes that keeps regular customers coming back – and new ones coming in.
5. Boston Chops (Boston, MA)
Tucked away in Boston’s South End, fans of Boston Chops call this place the “perfect modern steakhouse.” The steaks in Boston Chops steakhouse are first cooked in sous vide to lock in those juices and seasoning before finishing them off with the perfect sear in a cast-iron pan.
And if steak isn’t your thing, there are options such as grilled beef heart and crispy oxtail croquettes for the adventurous ones among you.
6. Chipotle Mexican Grill (Across the U.S.)
It’s not all fine dining chefs that use sous vide either. This answers the question of “can sous vide be done at scale?” Chipotle uses sous vide for food safety to “help prevent future pathogen outbreaks” (source) after it had an E. coli outbreak in 9 states.
Steaks that are used in bowls, burritos and tacos will be cooked in central kitchens using the sous vide cooking technique.
This is a great mini-documentary “The Sous Vide Revolution” by PolyScience Culinary interviewing many of the top chefs using sous vide cooking. This will help answer Do restaurants use sous vide?
What Equipment Do I Need to Cook Sous Vide?
Can you get the same restaurant quality sous vide food at home? Yes, you can. Let’s go over the equipment you need for that. If you’re starting from scratch, take a look at our sous vide starter kit article that gives you the core equipment you need.
Sous Vide Immersion Circulators
Can you imagine the sous vide equipment they have to get those precise temperatures? I’m sure it’s not the Anova Precision Cooker or Breville ChefSteps Joule that I use at home or smaller restaurants.
In restaurant kitchens, chefs have access to commercial sous vide machines that allow them to efficiently cook food in large batches. Home chefs won’t be serving hundreds of customers a night, so a sous vide immersion circulator is probably the only tool you’d need for precision time and temperature control.
Sous Vide Water Bath Containers
BPA-free, polycarbonate containers or metal pots are all made of the same material. The difference comes when you’re looking at the size of the water bath that’s needed. Most containers will fit on your kitchen countertop.
Whether you want a medium rare or medium well steak, the container size doesn’t matter, it’s the temperature and time that matters the most.
Vacuum Seal and Ziplock Bags
Large restaurants have the finances and space to purchase industrial quality vacuum sealers that create airtight, vacuum sealed sous vide bags of prepared food ready for cooking or storing.
For home chefs, you can use Ziploc freezer bags or get an external vacuum sealer for sealing food. There are more expensive vacuum sealers like chamber vacuums, but you can get a FoodSaver vacuum sealer because you don’t need to bag hundreds a day.
Skillets, pans, grills, and even sous vide torches of all sizes can easily be found. That means any kind of finishing method can be prepared as a final touch to the dish, just like your local chefs.
The sous vide method may have originated from France with French cuisine, but it’s now all over the globe in homes and restaurants, big and small.
It’s not without controversy either. Sous vide’s “boiling” food in a plastic bag has the likes of UK’s The Sun slamming Gordon Ramsay for boiling steaks.
Sous vide cooking is definitely widespread around the world.
Restaurants often have professional combi-ovens that give top chefs multiple ways of cooking (sous vide, baking, broiling, steaming, air frying). Anova has now made the Anova Precision Oven that brings the combi-oven to home chefs and their kitchens. Read my full review: