If Obama is doing whirlwind tours around the US in the name of health care reform, then the affable three-Michelin-star, molecular gastro-chef Heston Blumenthal of England's The Fat Duck is going city to city with a similar, singular passion for tender meat. Specifically, he's shilling for the SousVide Supreme, a new appliance intended to bring the gentle art of sous vide cooking to the home cook. Blumenthal—along with the American founders of the company, Dr. Mary Dan and Michael Eades—spent Tuesday at the CCA in SF, touting the merits of water oven cooking for everyone from professional chefs to Suzy Homemaker.
Preorders for the $399 (a $50 savings!) home sous vide machine start tomorrow. Vacuum packer not included. Gastro geeks: Get your eggs out. Apartment kitchens: Make room on your counter top.
You've been to Seattle, Vancouver and today you leave for Chicago. Will you be eating anywhere on this trip but the airplane?
We’re going to Momofuku in New York.
Have you had a chance to eat anywhere in SF?
No, I got here at 11 pm last night. My dinner consisted of a beer and a Mars bar.
What kind of beer?
Um… something steam?
Yes. And a big Mars bar. That’s the glamour of it.
So homecooks now have a counter filled with a toaster, an espresso maker and a sous vide machine. What’s next?
There is nothing. Life after sous vide doesn’t exist. [laughs] But I think the sous vide machine has been the most important development in the professional kitchen in decades. The control that the water bath gives you means we can explore the nuances of food that we’d never been able to do before. It’s as useful for the timid domestic chef as it is for a professional chef.
So the SousVide Supreme is basically the new crockpot?
Yes, except you can do much more with it.
Where have you eaten in SF?
A couple years ago, I ate at Gary Danko, Chez Panisse—and what’s it called?—Slanted Door. I’m friends with David Kinch, but I’ve never been to Manresa. The French Laundry of course. Thomas and I are really good friends. We’ve done five or six dinners together. He’s a traditionalist, but he’ll embrace certain technology if he thinks it’ll make the food taste better.
David Chang of Momofuku caused some controversy recently by saying that in San Francisco chefs just serve a fig on a plate. What do you think San Francisco’s reputation is for food, from an international perspective?
For some reason, all foodies in the UK think of San Francisco as a foodie place. SF’s reputation for bakeries is pretty impressive. And I would argue that there’s good and bad food, it doesn’t matter what culture it comes from. Of course it’s subjective. But bringing it back to the SousVide Supreme system, you can make all your food better. So if you were going to poach a fig, you could sous vide it and you’ll have a fig with a better flavor.
Have you sous vided a fig?
Yeah. I’ve sous vided everything.