5 Tips for Owning a Successful Restaurant

    Owning a successful restaurant is an American dream of sorts. To make a living by serving your community delicious food is both noble and highly rewarding. But as many restauranteurs know, owning a restaurant can be a challenge. Here are 5 tips that will make it a little easier:


    1)      Find the Best Workers


    find the best workers


    Running a restaurant isn’t a one-person job. That’s why owners should make hiring workers a top priority. Ideally, workers should be both capable and enthusiastic. People who can do a job are valuable. But workers who can do a job and also spread positivity are invaluable. Those are the types of staff members owners should strive to hire.


    2)      Create an Ambiance


    creating an ambiance


    Restaurants should do more than offer good food and friendly service. The environment should also appeal to customers. Best way to do this is by providing comfortable seating and beautiful decorations. An outdoor dining area is another great option—especially during the summer time. A unique music playlist can also help give your restaurant a distinct vibe that customers gravitate to.


    3)      Menu Design


    menu design


    Designing an effective restaurant menu is a big key to attracting new customers. Your menu’s dish descriptions should be simple yet informative. They should also appeal your diners’ appetites. Customers should be able to practically taste your food by just reading the menu’s description. If you can do this, diners will be more likely to give your restaurant a shot even if they don’t know much about it.


    4)      Location, Location, Location


    restaurant location


    Even great restaurants don’t last long if they’re in bad locations. It doesn’t matter how outstanding the food or service is. And that’s why securing a good location is essential to your restaurant’s success. But here’s the catch. It’s not enough for your restaurant to be in a spot that’s heavily trafficked. What matters most is that your restaurant is in a location that’s popular with your specific target audience.


    5)      A Restaurant is a Business


    restaurant business


    Cooking can be an art. But a restaurant is always a business. It’s fine to let your chefs experiment with new recipes. But never lose sight of your bottom line. Because if your restaurant dips too far into the red, then it won’t matter how flavorful or unique the food is. Remember that a successful restaurant is a profitable restaurant.


    Written by J. Vigotsky

    Blogs Directory

    What Kind of Deep Fried Food is Right for You?

    what kind of deep fried food is right for you


    Go to any festival, carnival, or state fair and you’re likely to find plenty of deep fried goodness. Concession stands offer attendees nearly endless fried options. But often times, the choices can be quite overwhelming. This post will explore some popular fried offerings and help you decide what’s perfect for you.


    Ice Cream


    deep fried ice cream


    I know what you’re thinking… ice cream is supposed to be cold, right? Doesn’t matter. There are no rules when it comes to the deep fryer. Besides, it’s only the outer shell of your ice cream that will get fried. The inside remains cold and refreshing as ever. This makes fried ice cream perfect for hot, summer days. As a result, festival-goers who tend to run a little warm should accept no accept. For some extra flavor, ask for your ice cream to be dipped in cinnamon before frying.




    deep fried banana


    For when you’re in need of a quick snack. Deep fried bananas are delicious pick-me-ups that’ll give you energy and result in minimal crash. They are also known as pisang goreng and found in several far-eastern countries. Places like Indonesia, Malaysia, Cambodia, Thailand, Singapore, Brunei, and the Philippines are well-known for offering this fried treat. Plantains are also commonly used instead of bananas.




    deep fried pickles


    Pickles are a “love it or hate it” type of food. Some people can eat them until the jar’s empty, while others would rather starve than stomach a single pickle. With this in mind, deep fried pickles are even more divisive. Even some of the most passionate pickle eaters draw the line somewhere. And for many, that’s when their beloved pickled cucumber has been cooked in boiling hot oil. Deep fried pickles are best-suited for the most loyal of pickle devotees.


    French Fries


    french fries


    The classic fried option. On first glance, French fries might seem a bit bland. Most people have eaten more than enough to last a lifetime. Thankfully, fries come in more forms than ever. Steak fries, curly fries, crinkle-cut fries, waffle fries and shoe string fries are just a few options. Sweet potato fries are perfect if you’re looking for a different taste. Maybe you love the taste of classic French fries but crave a condiment other than ketchup. Try topping your fries with cheese, chili, or anything else in you’re in the mood for. All these variations make French fries perfect for variety seekers. Food connoisseurs have nearly endless options when it comes to French fries.




    deep fried poptart


    For breakfast lovers! Or at least breakfast lovers who are short on time. As if 30+ Poptart flavors weren’t enough, you can now try them all deep fried. Most people prefer Poptarts to be toasted or microwaved. But deep fried Poptarts have the same hot temperature along with an extra punch of flavor. These are dangerously addictive for sweet tooths. So be sure to exercise caution.


    Mozzarella Sticks


    deep fried mozzarella sticks


    Deep-fried food for the cheese lover. Mozzarella sticks feature gooey mozzarella cheese on the inside and a crisp exterior on the outside. Served alongside a variety of sauces, deep fried mozzarella sticks can also serve as appetizers. The extra-hungry festival goer can get started on these before moving onto bigger game.




    deep fried oreos


    For the cookie monster in you. A deep fried Oreo is pretty much a cookie inside a cookie. The Oreo is dipped in batter, and then the whole thing is deep fried. The cream filling softens up and takes on a delicate consistency that makes it all the more sinful. It achieves a level of deliciousness that is likely a public safety hazard. If you thought the Oreo peaked with the Double Stuf, then you are sadly mistaken.


    Corn Dog


    deep fried corn dog


    The classic State Fair treat. For the traditionalist who yearns for a simpler time. For a time before there were deep fried Poptarts. When a corn dog was all anyone could ask for all anyone could have wanted. It doesn’t matter where the future of deep fried food will take us. The corn dog is an American institution. And it will always remain one.


    Onion Rings


    deep fried onion rings


    Deep fried onion rings are ideal for perfectionists who prefer their food to be completely symmetrical. They’re also great for someone who doesn’t want to feel completely guilty about eating deep fried goodness. Since they are made with real onions, you can truthfully say you’re getting your vegetables. The onion rings can also be used to make your own carnival game. Maybe you’re tired of paying full price for ring toss. Grab a plastic knife, stick it in some food, and try to land some onion rings around it. If playing with food is appropriate anywhere, it’s at the State Fair.  




    deep fried pizza


    There are a few different ways to deep fry pizza. In Italy, pizza dough is deep fried rather than baked and toppings are added after. This is common among street vendors who don’t have access to pizza ovens. In Scotland, a pizza is cooked fully then submerged into a deep fryer to add extra flavoring. There is usually no batter involved in this process. And then there are those who dare to batter a pizza slice and then stick it in the deep fryer. Not for the faint of heart, this type of deep fried pizza is great for people who love to exercise and will have no issue working off the calories.




    deep fried peanuts


    A long day out in the sun can take a lot of you. By the end of it, you’ll likely be tired. Maybe you'll want a tasty snack to help perk you up. Some peanuts perhaps. But the hard labor that goes into deshelling each peanut? No thank you. Luckily, deep fried peanuts can save the day. These peanuts are fried whole, shell and all. They come with differing flavors like salted, barbecue, Cajun, garlic, hot pepper, and even caramel. So if you want some peanuts but are thoroughly exhausted or maybe just kind of lazy, deep fried peanuts are the answer.




    deep fried dough


    Deep fried dough sounds simple, doesn’t it? But it’s not. Fried dough can come in the form of zeppoles, funnel cakes, and even churros. Deep fried dough is of the one more classic options on this list. Perhaps best-suited for people who are planning to take a nice nap in the near future. The carb crash combined with the sugar crash will leave you begging for sleep. If you still have a long day at the fair in front of you, opt for something else.




    deep fried butter


    This is not a joke. Deep fried butter actually exists. It was invented in 2009 at the Texas State Fair by the immortal Sergio Guerrero Ble. It rightfully won the prize of “most creative food.” And naturally, deep fried butter was put on a stick two years later at the 2011 Iowa State Fair. And thus marked the apex of human achievement. Making the culinary marvel known as deep fried butter is relatively simple. All it requires is some frozen butter along with either batter or breading. Coat the butter and deep fry it in oil. What you get is essentially very buttery bread that tastes similar to French toast but has way more calories. Deep fried butter is best left for those who have lower cholesterol. 



    deep fried coke


    Deep fried coke comes from the same brilliant mind that gave us deep fried butter. So you know it’s a quality product. The culinary marvel was debuted in 2006 at the deep fry Mecca known as the Texas State Fair. Very different from regular Coca-Cola, deep fried coke is made with flavored batter balls that have been deep fried and topped with several tasty items. Coca-Cola syrup, whipped cream, cinnamon sugar, and a cherry are among the toppings. Deep fried coke has come a long since its introduction. The dessert is sold worldwide and has even been copied by deep fried Pepsi.




    deep fried fish


    For the more “health-conscious” fried food eater. Deep fried fish offers great bang for your buck and can keep you full for hours. So if you plan on spending all day at a State Fair, one serving of deep fried fish might be all you need. Just don’t expect the health benefits of the fish to offset its fried coating.




    deep fried bubblegum


    Another proud winner of the Texas State Fair’s “Most Creative” award. But the dirty little secret about deep fried bubblegum is it’s actually a bubblegum-flavored marshmallow. The marshmallow is covered with bubblegum-flavored batter then deep fried and sprinkled with frosting. By all accounts, the best thing about it is its smell. The flavor is allegedly a crime against good taste. And not only does the taste of fried bubblegum not satisfy, but it also lingers. You’ll taste a hint of fried bubblegum with everything else you eat that day. As a result, deep fried bubblegum is recommended for only the most masochistic of fried food aficionados.



    The truth is you can deep fry just about anything. All you need is food, a fryer, and an imagination. This list doesn’t even scratch the surface of what’s possible. There’s little doubt that the coming years will result in an even more delicious deep fried food discoveries. It’s up to you whether you want to be a deep frying pioneer or merely a beneficiary. There’s no shame in either. 

    Writing a Restaurant Mission Statement

    writing a restaurant mission statement


    A restaurant mission statement sets the tone for your whole foodservice. It gives both staff and customers a better idea of what your restaurant is all about. This means there's no reason to use the first thing that pops into your head. You should put a lot of thought into your mission statement before deciding on what's right. This post will cover how to write a great restaurant mission statement.

    The task of writing a mission statement can seem daunting. Just the words "mission statement" have a weight to them. That's why it's a good idea to think of your restaurant's mission statement as a promise. It can be a promise to your customers, staff, or even business partners. The key is to make customer promises that are unique to your restaurant. Promises that highlight your restaurant's distinct strengths and convince customers to try it. The restaurant industry is already flooded with bland mission statements. But just because others settle doesn't mean you should too. Choosing a bold yet truthful mission statement will help your restaurant stand out from its competition.

    Your mission statement should be short, sweet, and to the point. Confusing language has no place in any mission statement. The statement should be something everyone can read and easily understand. Friends, family, and staff can all give help by giving their opinions. It doesn't matter how many people you need to consult with. The idea is to choose the best restaurant mission statement possible.

    Really think about what makes your restaurant special. Why should customers eat at your restaurant instead of your competitors’? And what would make a talented chef or server want to work for you? The answers to these questions can help you craft a personalized mission statement. Although most mission statements are just a sentence long, there’s no rule that says they need to be. But if you want to make your statement longer than a single sentence, make sure it remains clear.


    Written by J. Vigotsky

    How to Run a Restaurant – Consultants


    how to run a restaurant - consultant


    There is no simple solution when it comes to how to run a restaurant. The truth is it isn't easy. Reading books and articles can help make it easier, but there’s no substitute for good, old fashioned coaching. People like Jon Taffer have made careers out of helping struggling bars. Most restaurant whispers don’t have their own TV shows, but they exist nonetheless. And every day, these experts help restaurants thrive. This post will cover different ways consultants can help your restaurant too.

    One way to benefit from consultants by attending restaurant seminars. These talks cover topics like reducing labor costs, maximizing profits, perfecting customer service, and more. Cheaper than personalized coaching, seminars are ideal for owners who are short on funds. Some seminars are multi-day events, while others last just a few hours.


    restaurant consultant


    Another idea is to work with an expert one-on-one.  Bring someone into your restaurant and give them free reign. Let them size things up and see what your restaurant needs. Once the coach has a day to take everything in, he can from a plan and put it to action. If you want to go this route, make sure you hire someone with experience. Preferably an expert who has been recommended by someone you know and trust. The expert’s skills should range widely and not focus on one special thing.

    A third way to coach up your staff is through the computer. Experts can teach personalized courses through Skype and similar apps. These courses can focus marketing, finance, and other key aspects of business. Online coaching is a great way to get personalized lessons without breaking the bank.

    Even the world’s best athletes, actors, and musicians use coaches. So why wouldn’t a restaurant owner? There’s a big learning curve to figuring out how to run a restaurant. So do yourself a favor and get the help of a pro. Google phrases like “Restaurant Consultants” to find a solution near you.


    Written by: J. Vigotsky

    Blendtec vs Vitamix – Which Blender is Best

    blend tec


    The Blendtec vs Vitamix battle has raged on for years within the blender industry, and it shows no signs of stopping. While both brands make some of the most popular blenders on the market, there's no consensus on which blender is best. Offering both residential and commercial blenders, the two brands offer their own unique benefits. This posting will explore whether a Blendtec or Vitamix blender is better-suited for your specific needs.

    Blendtec blenders are perhaps best known for their power. The company’s “Will it Blend?” video series shows the blender attempting to blend iPhones, iPads, glow sticks, lighters, golf balls, and even marbles. Thus far, the blender has been successful every time.

    Blendec machines have higher peak horsepower compared to Vitamix blenders. Vitamix units compensate by featuring four-pronged blades as opposed to Blendtec’s two-pronged blades. The difference in prongs helps Vitamix blenders cut through ice and frozen ingredients.

    One clear advantage Vitamix has over Blendtec is its renowned Quiet One blender. This unit features a tritan container that covers the entire blender and helps reduce unwanted noise. Perfect for smaller cafes and smoothie bars, Vitamix The Quiet One 36019 blender lets customers enjoy their meals in peace.

    Since Blendtec blenders are shorter, they are easier to fit beneath bulky cabinets. Vitamax units are too tall to fit under cabinets, which causes issues for kitchens that have limited space. Check the height of your blender’s pitcher and ensure it'll be able to effectively function it in your kitchen.

    Vitamix units are heavier and pricier than Blendtec blenders. However, many Vitamix blenders come with easy-to-use tampers that ensure smooth functioning.

    Many customers appreciate the peace of mind that comes with buying a product that has a long-term warranty. Although new Blendtec blenders come with impressive 5-year warranties, Vitamix units boast even-longer 7-year warranties.

    Manual control is essential for users who want to be in total command of their commercial blenders. Vitamix and Blendtec units both offer manual control, but they do so in different ways. Blendtec blenders have touch screens, while Vitamix blenders use variable speed dials for superior precision. The dials are used to escalate blending intensity until your unit is operating at the perfect speed.

    vitamix speed dial

    Do you want your smoothies to have a chunky texture or a smoother texture? Blendtec blenders produce chunkier smoothies. Vitamix blenders make drinks with smoother textures.

    Blendtec and Vitamix blenders can make make soups, sauces, stews, smoothies, nut butters, milkshakes, condiments, or dressings. They're both capable machines. The "best" blender is whatever satisfies the needs of your foodservice.

    How to Answer the Phone Professionally

    restaurant phone


    Often times, the first impression your restaurant makes on a customer is through a phone call. A patron will call either to confirm your restaurant’s hours, make a dinner reservation, or place an order for pickup/delivery. When a hostess answers that phone call, his or her etiquette can be the difference between whether a customer eats at your restaurant or somewhere else. This post will cover how to answer phones profesionally in restaurants. 

    A simple, easy-to-remember phone greeting would go something like this:

    “Thank you for calling ________. My name is __________. How may I help you?”

    Whoever answers the phone should have a smile on his or her face. This might seem ridiculous, as there’s no way the caller will be able to see the smile. But smiiling will give your employee's voice a certain warmth that can be heard over the phone. And that warmth will certainly endear the caller to your restaurant.

    Restaurants can get very busy, so there’s always going to be a time when you’ll need to put a caller on hold. In that event, answer the phone with:

    “Thank you for calling ________. My name is __________. Can you please hold?”

    The key with this greeting is to wait until the caller says they can hold. If your employee just puts the caller on hold before listening to a response, there’s a good chance the behavior will be interpreted as rude. And it could potentially lead to the caller eating elsewhere.

    If you want to keep close tabs on whether your employees are following protocol, place a call yourself and listen to how they answer the phone. Try to do this during times of the day or night that the restaurant isn't as busy. Calling during rush hour just for a check-up can unnecessarily stop the flow of work and lead to resentment from your employees.

    9 Benefits of True Refrigeration Equipment

    true refrigeration


    It's no coincidence that True refrigeration equipment is found in all kinds of commercial kitchens. The renowned manufacturer has been producing quality freezers and refrigerators for over 70 years, and this post will help explore what separates True equipment from the competition.


    Energy Efficiency

    True offers more Energy Star-certified refrigeration units than any of its competing manufacturers. Helping operators decrease utility and maintenance costs, the efficiency of True freezers and refrigerators also helps ensure a longer lifespan.



    All True refrigeration units come with a 3-year warranties for parts and labor. Even better, compressors have extended 5-year warranties. If there is ever an issue, True will quickly repair or replace your equipment so your foodservice doesn’t miss a beat.


    Extra-Cold Freezers

    While the standard temperature of most commercial freezers is 0°F, True freezers are designed to consistently maintain a temperature of -10°F. This difference of 10°F enables True freezers to better-preserve food, which results in more flavorful meals for your restaurant’s customers.


    Glass Doors

    True has its own factory where it produces all double-paned glass doors found on its freezers and refrigerators. This allows the company to reduce costs and pass those savings onto customers. Between the two glass panes is Argon gas, which acts as an insulator and helps keep the units cold. Argon is completely harmless, so there’s need to fret in the unfortunate event that your unit’s glass breaks.


    Rigorous Testing

    All True refrigeration equipment is subjected to thorough testing before being removed from the assembly line and sent out for delivery. While refrigerators are tested for 4-6 hours to ensure proper functioning, freezers must go through a whopping 16-24 hours of comprehensive evaluations. Any unit that doesn’t measure up to True’s lofty standards is sent back for modifications before being tested again.


    Stainless Steel Exterior

    Made with high-grade stainless steel that excels at withstanding years of use in commercial environments, True refrigeration equipment also boasts a powder coating. This coating helps prevent rust and corrosion, which helps freezers and refrigerators maintain aesthetic exteriors despite years of use.  This makes True equipment perfect for kitchens that are on display for patrons to see.



    Whether you prefer glass doors, solid doors, or even sliding doors, True allows you to customize a unit so it matches your precise preferences. The exteriors of merchandising and display refrigerators can be customized with decals that draw attention to your products and increase purchases.


    Long-term Durability

    Since the evaporator fan motors found in True refrigeration units are filled with oil, they won’t require lubrication for the duration of their year lifespan. And while similar fan motors of similar commercial freezers and refrigerators last as few as 3 years, those found in True refrigerator are consistently functional for 15-20 years.


    Made in America

    True proudly manufactures all of its refrigeration equipment in a Missouri-based factory and never imports units from other countries. This means that by buying a True freezer or refrigerator, you’re helping support the American workforce.

    Cappuccino vs. Latte vs. Mocha vs. Espresso Coffee

    Written by: J. Vigotsky


    different espresso beverages


    For many people, the day hasn’t started until they’ve had their hot beverage of choice. While coffee is the traditional option, drinks like espressos, cappuccino, mochas, and lattes are winning over more fans by the day. Although these are four distinct drinks, you’ll need an espresso machine to make any of them. This post will explore the differences between the four delicious beverages and how to make the steamed milk that some of them require.




    espresso shot


    Served as a 1.5 oz. shot rather in a cup, espresso packs an energy punch and is perfect for people who don’t want to carry around a cup of coffee. The shot is topped off with a layer of foam that many deem the best part. Even though an espresso shot is relatively small compared to a cup of coffee, it still boasts 60-70% of the caffeine. Espresso’s strong taste is not for the faint of the heart, but those who like their coffee dark will love it.






    A latte is simply a shot of espresso mixed in steamed milk and topped off with a layer of milk foam. It’s basically a larger, milkier version of an espresso. Although about 2/3 of the drink is traditionally steamed milk, it’s common for customers to request double shots of espresso to give the latte an extra kick.  






    Made with equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and foamed milk, a cappuccino is perfect for customers who find the bold taste of an espresso shot a bit overwhelming. There’s also a dry cappuccino, which leaves out the steamed milk and strikes a nice balance between a classic espresso shot and an ordinary cup of cappuccino.






    If there’s a drink on this list for chocolate lovers, the mocha is it. Combining espresso, milk, and a dab of chocolate flavoring, mochas are sweet treats that can be enjoyed early in the morning or during dessert. The chocolate taste is usually achieved by use of either hot chocolate or chocolate syrup. And while there is such thing as a Mocha bean, it usually isn’t used in a mocha recipe.


    How to Steam Milk


    how to steam milk


    Properly steaming milk is essential when it comes to properly making these espresso-based beverages. The best way to do so is by filling a restaurant creamer with milk and exposing that milk to the high-pressure steam emitted by your espresso machine. There’s an art to this process and also a bit of a learning curve, so don’t be discouraged if you make a few mistakes.

    Best Podcasts for Restaurant Marketing

    Written by: J. Vigotsky


    Operating a restaurant is far more of an art than a science. While first-hand experience in the foodservice industry is irreplaceable when it comes to running a restaurant, there are certainly other ways owners and managers can put themselves in the best positions to succeed. One of these ways is through education. From books to videos to blogs, there are nearly endless resources that restauranteurs can learn from. One increasingly popular form of media that can broaden your scope of knowledge is a podcast. These free-flowing conversations usually feature a host and a revolving door of guests who are well-versed in specific topics like restaurant marketing and foodservice etiquette. And the best part about podcasts is how easy they are to consume. You can be driving, cooking, or even working out and still listen to a podcast. The following list includes 4 of the best podcasts for restauranteurs.  


    Social Restaurant Podcast – Hosted by Nate Riggs


    social restaurant podcast nate riggs


    The Social Restaurant Podcast covers recent topics, trends, and innovations that impact the restaurant industry. Releasing a 30-60 minute episode each week, marketing guru Nate Riggs hosts the podcast and is joined by an executive, operator, owner, or chef who’s on the forefront of the evolving foodservice industry. While Riggs doesn’t quite have extensive experience when it comes to operating restaurants, he helped Bob Evans Restaurants grow by way of his innovative marketing strategies.

    Topics covered by the Social Restaurant Podcast include “Restaurant Service Tips from an Expert,” “Hot Fast Casual Restaurant Trends,” “Local Store Marketing for Restaurants,” and much more. Although not every podcast will appeal to each restauranteur’s specific needs, there is certainly plenty of knowledge to gain from Riggs’ guests.


    Profitable Hospitality – Hosted by Ken Burgin


    profitable hospitality with ken burgin


    Having recorded upwards of 300 podcasts since 2012, Ken Burgin has over 25 years of experience in hospitality. He is an expert on topics like staff, cost control, marketing, menu development, social media, and more. Ken’s pleasant Australian accent makes his Profitable Hospitality podcast a joy to listen to, and his guests specialize in subjects like marketing, management, and business development. For restauranteurs who are looking for advice on how to handle issues outside the kitchen, Profitable Hospitality is a great choice.


    The Sporkful – Hosted by Dan Pashman


    the sporkful with Dan Pashman


    Author and three-time James Bead Award-nominated Dan Pashman hosts this podcast and fosters in-depth discussions that touch on topics like food, culture, body image, and more. Winner of the 2017 Webby Award for Best Lifestyle Podcast, The Sporkful features a guest list that includes chefs, food lovers, and even comedians. The one thing these guests have in common is their fascinating human interest stories. Compared to other podcasts on this list, Dan Pashman takes a more-laid back approach and focuses on entertainment more than education. While there’s still plenty to learn from The Sporkful, the podcast likely isn’t as beneficial to restauranteurs who are solely on a mission for knowledge.


    Restaurant Unstoppable – Hosted by Eric Cacciatore


    restaurant unstoppable with eric cacciatore


    With nearly 500 podcast episodes now under his belt, Eric Cacciatore initially launched Restaurant Unstoppable to fill a void in the podcast universe. He yearned for a podcast that was motivational, and focused on restaurant professionals. After he got tired of waiting for it, Eric decided to make it himself.

    Restaurant Unstoppable strives to provide restaurateurs with everything they need to operate a successful foodservice. On top of keeping listeners inspired, the podcast features guest appearances from chefs, owners, managers, and a litany of other foodservice professionals. It also touches on how to lead, manage, raise capital, recruit good employees, and become more efficient. Since there are so many episodes archived, there’s nearly no end to the ground Eric has already covered. Perhaps even more impressive, the host shows no signs of stopping.

    What is Sous Vide Cooking?

    Written by: J. Vigotsky


    sous vide vs. traditional steak


    Great chefs do everything in their power to create delicious meals. Whether it’s using new ingredients, changing cooking temperatures, or exploring alternate cooking methods, there are nearly infinite ways for chefs to subtly alter the taste of a dish. One way in particular that chefs are pushing culinary boundaries is by using sous vide cooking methods. French for “under vacuum,” sous vide cooking consistently churn outs entrées that are tender and succulent. The method is commonly utilized when cooking chicken, steak, beef, lamb, pork, seafood, and even vegetables.


    What Is It?


    sous vide cooking


    Traditional sous vide cooking entails first placing food in a vacuum-sealed bag. The bag is then placed in a temperature-controlled water bath, which uses an immersion circulator to ensure its water temperature is exactly what it needs to be. Drawing water in from the tub, heating it, and then releasing it back into circulation, an immersion circulator is essential to sous vide cooking.  

    You might be wondering what you need to make a water bath, and the answer’s likely simpler than you think. Plastic food storage containers excel at the job so long as they’re large enough to hold all the water, and plastic is a great insulator of heat. Ideal size of the storage container will depend on how much food you want to cook. The more food you’re planning to make, the larger the bath will need to be.


    The Finishing Touches


    Using sous vide cooking helps ensure meat will be thoroughly cooked from end to end according to your precise preferences. But while the distinct texture and tenderness of meat cooked sous vide is undeniable, some diners might find the dish lacks a certain X-factor. Consequently, it’s common chef practice for cooked meat to be seared atop a cast-iron skillet prior to serving. The process takes very little time and helps add more crusted flavor to your meat.


    Sink to the Bottom


    sous vide cooking bottom of the bath


    When it comes to the actual cooking process, there are several important things to keep in mind. The vacuum-sealed bag with food in it should always be at the bottom of your water bath. One way to ensure this is by clamping a binder clip to the bottom of your bag then putting an item that will weigh down the bag in-between the bag and clip. This is highly advised because floating bags can potentially lead to improperly cooked food that poses a safety risk.


    Patience is a Virtue


    Also keep in mind that cooking sous vide can take significantly longer than alternate methods. For example, a slab of meat that takes 8 hours to cook on an outdoor smoker can take a whole day when cooked sous vide. On the bright side, sous vide cooking is an almost entirely hands-off endeavor, which frees up kitchen staff to focus on other important tasks. And since the food takes so long to cook, it’s nearly impossible to accidentally undercook or overcook a dish.


    Evaporation is the Enemy


    sous vide ping pong balls


    Over the several hours or even days it takes to cook sous vide, it’s possible for the bath’s water to evaporate. Luckily, there are measurements you can take to prevent such an inconvenience. Ping-pong balls are the gold standard for ensuring steam always drips back down into the water bath. Simply make a pile of balls atop the water and let them do their work. If you don’t do this, there’s a chance you’ll need to refill your water bath during the cooking process.


    Season with Caution


    Seasoning meats is a bit of an art when it comes to sous vide cooking. Since the dishes take so long to cook, herbs and spices infuse especially strong flavors when they’re inside your vacuum-sealed bag. As a result, seasoning meats after sous vide cooking has finished but before searing is an easier and less risky proposition. If you insist on cooking with the seasoning, do a bit of experimenting to see exactly how much is necessary.