sous vide....lots of buzz...pros and cons
Vacuum packing has been around for some time, i.e. frozen foods, freeze-dried foods, everything from soup to nuts. Many restaurants have been using this method in order to provide consistent recipes and availability of featured entrees at a moments notice.
But..... How many chefs are using the Sous Vie cooking method on a consistent basis??? Is it just catching on with many or is the "real thing," if you want to control your cost while maintaining consistency?
Also what about using the one portion of the process of "Cryovacking" guest’s left-overs? Might it be a way to maintain the quality of what they take home, while eliminating those ugly plastic boxes [which are not cheap, nor green]?
Who's doing both with much success/volume and what equipment appears to achieve the best results?
"Sous vide" cooking does involve cryovac bagged foods (with all air removed), but cryovacked food is not sous vide food. It's not clear to me whether you're differentiating between the two.
True sous vide "cooking" involves "poaching" the cryovacked food at a temperature below the boiling point, usually around 140F. My opinion is that sous vide cooking cannot be guaranteed safe; one germ in the bag and whatever length of time you let it float in the pot and you've got absolutely ideal growing temperature for all sorts of bacteria and bugs. It may be safe most of the time, but it only takes one time when it's not to kill someone.
I don't see a problem with a restaurant cryovacking leftovers for clients, but it's a lot more time consuming than styrofoam trays or even zip lock bags. The problem with the cryovacked food and zip-locked is that if you don't use individual containers for each food, you're sending clients home with stew. The current standard of foam take-out trays just makes more sense.
I do use cryovac to store raw and cooked foods in the freezer. The great advantage is that it cuts back on freezer burn and the bags can be opened, part of the contents removed, then resealed. For individual portions, they can be nuked or boiled to reheat the contents. Pretty convenient, but not cheap.