Sous Vide Will Change the Way You Think About Serving Food

September 29, 2021
Salmon being cooked in a bag using sous vide method
Traditional commercial kitchens have been following the same operating model for a long time. In some cases, for decades. With COVID-19, operators were forced to re-evaluate almost every aspect of their operations. 
As a result, kitchens must modernize to cut costs and save time without negatively affecting quality. The challenge is that many have been slow to automate and are therefore labor intensive. Almost every process requires manual labor or human intervention.

As food service providers are discovering, labor costs and employee turnover are increasing, making it harder than ever to hire and retain skilled labor. Meanwhile, traditional cooking approaches result in a high amount of waste through:

  • Yield losses during prep, production and holding processes
  • Batch cooking often results in not everything being served or eaten
  • Food prep is based on a forecast. If forecasts are incorrect, food is wasted

Training new employees and throwing away food add to costs. A food assembly methodology that utilizes fully prepared ingredients, with sous vide at the core, can eliminate these challenges. 

Sous vide is a method of cooking in which food is placed in vacuum-sealed pouches, then immersed in warm water for cooking. Food is cooked evenly and retains its juices and flavors. Manufacturers have adopted this methodology so that high-quality, clean label sous vide and prepared ingredients, such as sauces, can now be used in hospitality, senior living facilities, and every type of food service in between.

The pandemic disrupted food service. Interruptions in the food supply chain, some food service providers switching their focus to delivery, and difficulty retaining employees presented challenges that are still ongoing. An assembly methodology that utilizes sous vide and pre-prepped ingredients provides a solution that lessens the impact of change and enables new benefits.
By purchasing sous vide products, items arrive in the kitchen perfectly cooked. Proteins are flash frozen after cooking and have a shelf life of 18 months. The long shelf life helps avoid waste while offering stability in pricing. Fresh produce is received pre-washed and cut. This eliminates the need for using a slicer or knives, which reduces the risk of injury and results in less cleanup.

The sous vide process ensures safe, perfectly cooked food every time, regardless of who is preparing it. The bag containing the food product is simply rethermed utilizing a water bath with an immersion circulator or other common equipment. Because food is being reheated, versus cooked from raw, time to reach serving temperature is great reduced.  

There are also other benefits. Sous vide and prepared ingredients require less space and cooking equipment than traditional kitchens. This can save money on both capital expenses and energy costs. Sous vide products can be rethermed without the use of grills, fryers or ovens, so no kitchen ventilation is needed. Setting up a kitchen in a new space using this approach is therefore faster, easier and less expensive than starting a traditional kitchen.
The price of fully prepared products per pound or per case will typically be more expensive than other traditional commodity products. However, the elimination of waste and prep labor balances, and often reduces, the overall cost.
JBH Advisory Group offers clients a complete operating model, called Simple Solutions, that can be used in any food service environment. The company has tested and proven the assembly methodology within full-service dining, quick service restaurants (QSR), ghost kitchens, healthcare facilities, food halls, kiosks and more. 
To provide a complete retail experience, JBH developed Sous Vide Kitchen (SVK) - A Virtual Food Hall. Following the Simple Solutions assembly methodology, SVK allows guests to order from 12 unique branded concepts, all served from one production line, in a completely hoodless environment. SVK also uses premium garnishes, dressings and other items to deliver unique global flavors and high-quality taste.

Using the Simple Solutions approach, menus and food items can be easily rotated to ensure a variety of offerings. Offerings can be designed to match, mimic or complement an organization’s current menu, but without the labor and waste of a traditional kitchen. Operators can use JBH’s brands, or simply use the approach with their own unique local branding. Fully prepared heat and serve meals are also offered to meet customer or patient preferences and needs.
The assembly methodology is a shift in food service, moving from mass producing food based on predictions to cooking food as it’s needed. A food program like JBH’s offers myriad benefits that help companies and facilities save money, reduce manpower, expand their menus, and provide quality and consistent food with every order.
Brian Berger Headshot

About the Author

Brian Berger is a founding partner of JBH responsible for business strategy, industry relations, client engagement and new ventures. He is an industry expert with extensive knowledge in food service management and healthcare support services.

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