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Comments by YACCS
Thursday, March 09, 2006

Cooking in what?


Carrots cooking sous vide, with butter and seasoning.


Chefs Looking for Tenderness Meet Tough New York Rules

By DANA BOWEN
Published: March 9, 2006

The phrase sous vide was a mystery to most diners when it started popping up on menus around New York City. Waiters at restaurants like Per Se and Sumile, Blue Hill and Cru could tell them that it was French for "under vacuum" and referred to the use of airtight plastic bags in which chicken breasts, for example, were infused with herbs, or lobster was slow poached at temperatures too low for simmering.

Carrots cooking sous vide, with butter and seasoning. In the past few weeks, New York has begun fining restaurateurs using the method.

Innovative chefs here and throughout the country — from food meccas in Manhattan to chef hangouts in small Southern towns — have embraced the technique, which makes food more tender and flavorful than conventional cooking methods. Some are using it in most of their dishes.

Gastronomy, meet bureaucracy.

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has quelled the sous vide revolution, for the moment. In the past few weeks inspectors have told some chefs to throw out shrink-wrapped food, forbidden them to use the equipment used to make it and told them to stop cooking and storing food sous vide until they have a government-approved plan for it.

In some cases, inspectors are handing out fines, which start at $300 per offense. The department's actions seem to represent the first time a city agency has singled out the technique, and how chefs use it.

The city health code, which governs the way chefs cook, does not specifically address the way a restaurant should vacuum-pack food. While no health problem has ever been tied to sous vide in restaurant kitchens in New York, officials say they are concerned that food could breed botulism and listeria if it is vacuum-wrapped improperly.

posted by Steve @ 2:23:00 AM

2:23:00 AM

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