That was the line stated by a chef I once met in Jakarta Culinary Passport, last July.
A chef is a person who is a highly trained, skilled professional cook who is proficient in all aspects of food preparation of a particular cuisine, says Wikipedia.org . Without any doubt, we can certainly agree with this.
Other than that, the word “proficient” is there to sum up that a chef can handle every particular thing in order to serve the best cuisine. As time goes by, the qualification to be a chef is not only about serving a delicious food to fulfill any tempations, but much greater than that.
Beyond cooking, there is underlying science to support a delicacy. Sous vide, a word aformentioned in the title is a concrete example of how science is needed on making a perfect meal.
Sous vide is French for “under vacuum”. It is a method of cooking in which food is sealed in airtight plastic bags then placed in a water bath or in a temperature-controlled steam environment for longer than normal cooking times at an accurately regulated temperature much lower than normally used for cooking.
Sous vide has been studied by food scientists since the 1990s. Sooner than that, chefs in some of world’s top restaurants have been using it since 1970s. It was not until in the mid-2000s that the used of sous vide cooking became widely known in the whole world.
Basically, there are 2 differences between sous vide and traditional cooking. In sous vide, the raw food is vacuum-sealed and cooked in precisely stable controlled heating.
Vacuum-sealing has several benefits. It allows heat to be efficiently transferred from the water (or steam) to the food. This airtight condition increases the food’s shelf-life by eliminating the risk of recontamination during storage and reduces aerobic bacterial growth so that resulting in especially flavorful and nutritious food. Last but least, it inhibits off-flavors from oxidation and prevents evaporative losses of flavor volatiles and moisture during cooking.
Precise temperature control also has powerful benefits. It allows greater control over doneness than traditional cooking methods. The overcooking is likely impossible to be happening. The stable temperature set makes food can be pasteurized and made safe at lower temperatures, so that it does not have to be cooked well-done to be safe. In special cases like meat tenderization, the tough cuts of meat (which were traditionally braised ) can be made tender and still be a medium or a medium-rare doneness.
The intention of sous vide is to cook the item evenly, ensuring that the inside is properly cooked without overcooking the outside, and retain moisture. Meanwhile, in traditional cooking, a problem can occur because of the use of the high temperature of the pan, oven or grill pushes heat into the exterior of the food so quickly that a large temperature gradient forms between the surface and the core.
In conclusion, there is no wonder why many chefs fall in love with the idea of these unsuperstitious benefits of sous vide. It is a delicacy we will get when combining cooking with science.
Baldwin DE. 2012. Sous vide cooking: a review. International Journal of Gastronomy and Food Science. vol 1(1):15-30
Gibbs W. “The Science of Sous Vide”. December 31, 2015. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-science-of-sous-vide/