For the next few decades, sous vide was both the secret of a handful of innovative chefs and a tool used to prepare food which could simply be reheated before service. It was considered a strange, potentially dangerous method of cooking, which meant anyone who used it professionally had to jump through lots of bureaucratic hoops to prove it was safe. It was almost entirely unheard of outside top restaurant kitchens until books like Under Pressure: Cooking Sous Vide by the legendary chef Thomas Keller was published in 2008 and then Nathan Myhrvold’s highly influential Modernist Cuisine in 2011. By writing down the methods, recipes and theories behind sous vide and making them available to the public, the press took notice and home cooks were eager to try it for themselves – especially when chefs like Heston Blumenthal and Ferran Adrià began championing the method.
Unfortunately, the only sous vide equipment available was made for commercial kitchens, costing thousands and wholly unsuitable for people’s homes. This led to a DIY sous vide movement, where kettles, cool boxes and zip-lock bags were used to imitate the professional kit. While these home-made experiments were successful to some degree, they could never achieve the precision and exact temperature control of the professional machines – something that modern sous vide cooking is now associated with. It’s only in recent years that the smaller water baths, immersion circulators and vacuum sealers have become available at affordable prices, opening up the technique to the home cook. This is the time when sous vide really gets exciting; with more people having access to the equipment needed, there’s more innovation, discussion and experimentation going on than ever before.