Sous Vide cooking is one of the most respected cooking method in the culinary scene right now. It takes time and effort, but it produces beautiful food. That is why it is respected. Unlike many other cooking methods the history of Sous vide cooking is a bit unorthodox. History only makes the process seem more beautiful.
The history Sou Vide cooking is actually a three part story. The first part is about the low-temperature cooking, second is containerized cooking and the last part is about using vacuum in the cook. There were three different persons who ultimately made the current cooking process what it is today.
The history of low-temperature cooking.
this one goes back up to 1799. It was found by a scientist by accident. His name Benjamin Thompson and he was a physicist. And he ran experiments on the transfer of heat.
Once he tried roast mutton using the machine created to dry potatoes. Even after not finding any result after three hours. He left giving it to his maids, who then forget it. The machine stayed on overnight. And when he came back and checked on the mutton next day, it was done. Not just done perfectly done.
Or in Thompson’s words which are weirdly being quoted till today, the meat was “Not merely eatable, but perfectly done, and most singularly well-tasted.”
He also noted how the meat fibres were loosened and the moisture was retained.
That was the first writing ever had about slow cooking. It never came in common use until a lot later.
The history of vacuum packing
this one never came into existence until the late 1960s. It was something that was developed by French and American scientists. Preparing food under pressure was used as a preservation method. The heat was used sometimes and sometimes it was not. As this method got more recognition, it was referred to as “cryovacking”. The pressure was known to concentrate the flavours even without cooking.
The history of containerized cooking
The adoption was this method was done by two different people. One a French chef called Georges pralus, for his restaurant in Roxanne. Cooking foie grass always leads to loss of the excessive amount of fat, means it lost almost 50% of its weight. But he found out that when covered in plastic the loss reduced to only 5%. He later taught this method at his culinary school called Culinary Innovations. This lead to the widespread recognition of this method.
Another chef Brunno Gaussaly carried out more experiments on this method. He was the chief scientist for an American food company. He was the one who perfected the temperature and cook times for different foods. He also prepared Sous Vide prepared food for Air France passengers.
These chefs were known to have a friendly rivalry between them. Pralus was called the artist and Gaussaly was called the scientist.
History of something is what makes it what it is. So learning the history can give you an insight into what every step of the process means.