It all started back in 2008, when nutritional experts Michael and Mary Dan Eades had one of the best pork chops they had ever eaten in their lives. Coming from the Southern states of America (known for their love of barbecues and grills), they’d been exposed to plenty of well-cooked meat in their time, but a pork chop in a hotel restaurant changed their entire outlook on how meat could be cooked.
After asking the hotel’s chef for the recipe, they discovered it had been cooked using the sous vide technique. They said: ‘We were on a quest to recreate that perfect pork chop. We determined to learn more about the sous vide technique, which involves gently cooking vacuum-sealed pouches of food at very precisely controlled temperatures that preserve flavor and nutritional quality of the foods being cooked. We thought, how hard could that be?’
The couple were extremely surprised to find that at that time, there were no domestic versions of the sous vide machine available; even the least expensive model cost over $1,500 and looked like something out of a science lab.
Initially, they cobbled together a make-shift contraption that consisted of a large stock pot balanced over a gas burner atop a simmering ring from an old wok. They hooked a sugar thermometer to the side and the two of them kept watch and added ice cubes or hot water minute by minute to control the temperature. Clearly this wasn’t going to be suitable for everyday use, or for other households to try and replicate.
Both Michael and Mary Dan had written books on nutrition and had long promoted a low carb/high protein diet, but neither had ventured into culinary technology before. So, together with a team of designers, manufacturers, and culinary professionals, they developed the SousVide Supreme™ water oven in late 2009. This became the world’s first self-contained machine for sous vide cooking.
Since then the SousVide Supreme has quickly evolved into a leading culinary brand for sous vide cooking, both for home cooks and now culinary professionals using their range of affordable water ovens, vacuum sealers, sous vide accessories and cookbooks.
Heston Blumenthal was passionate about the sous vide method of cooking and when he tested the domestic models at The Fat Duck he said they worked just as well as commercial models. In fact he was so impressed, along with the Eades, he went on a US tour of cookery schools, restaurants and colleges to show how the machines could revolutionise food. Each town they visited was mobbed by the public and chefs who all wanted to meet Heston and sample his dishes, ranging from expertly cooked salmon, to compressed aubergine and poached pears.