- - Thursday, January 23, 2020

Nestled among a grove of trees in Sterling, Virginia, the building appears to be a high-tech center. In fact, it is the headquarters and manufacturing facility of Cuisine Solutions, originally founded in 1974 as Vie de France, now the world’s leader in sous vide cookery. (The company also has  manufacturing facilities in Thailand and France.) Cuisine Solutions serves international airlines, cruise ship operators, the U.S. military, hotel chains, restaurants, retailers and schools with its training and products.

Inside the building, aside from a few meeting rooms, is the center for preparing, cooking and tasting the company’s sous vide products. But the kitchen of Cuisine Solutions does not emit the delicious aromas of roasting meat, for everything prepared here is gently boiled in sealed plastic containers. 

Cuisine Solutions was also founded with the intent of furthering research into sous vide methods and advancing the techniques that Dr. Bruno Goussault had pioneered in France in the 1970s. To that end, in an airy open space overlooking the verdant surroundings, the flavors of flowers, fruits, vegetables and plants are extracted from scraps and cryoconcentrated (a process of concentrating any liquid by removing water by freezing rather than with thermal treatment) so that their essence may be used to enhance food, and to use food products that otherwise would be discarded.

“Sous vide” is French for “under vacuum.” It refers to vacuum-packed food cooked in water baths at low temperatures to promote tenderness, freshness and the prevention of meat shrinkage. Sous vide has been around since the 1940s, with growing popularity in the 1960s and ’70s, when Dr. Goussault began working with vacuum-pouch cooking techniques. It is a term becoming ever more popular in contemporary cooking, both for restaurants and at home, with a variety of cooking equipment available for the home cook.

Dr. Goussault is considered the father of sous vide cooking. Born on Jan. 26, 1942, he is a scientist, economist and inventor. He began working with ham and beef in 1967, and spent three years in Niger experimenting with grains. The result was a quick-cooking two-minute rice. Hired by Cuisine Solutions in 1989, he has been working with the American Cuisine Solutions since 2000. In 2017, he was named “one of the 100 greatest visionaries” by the Einstein Legacy Project and chosen for inclusion in “Genius: 100 Visions of the Future,” the world’s first 3D-printed book. The book celebrates the 100th anniversary of the publication of Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity.



In 1991, Dr. Goussault founded CREA (Culinary Research & Education Academy) in order to train chefs in the application of the sous vide method. Cuisine Solutions offers on site, off site and Internet classes. The online class offers sous vide scientific theory; how to find the right equipment; preparation, vacuum sealing, storage, searing and chilling; and proper cooking temperatures for different types of food. Individual online courses are priced at $50; three-day seminars are priced at $2,500. A complete list of the courses offered can be found on www.lecrea.com.

What are the actual products manufactured by Cuisine Solutions? They are not simply tender but are examples of the best in French cooking. They range from pasta and rice dishes to beef, lamb, poultry, vegetables and sauces. Outstanding are the beef short ribs in a rich red wine sauce. The meat could not be more tender; it is flavorful, each bite succulent with the flavor of the sauce. Almost as good are the sliced short ribs. Whole lamb shanks fall off the bone while still being moist and, like the beef, full of flavor. A complete list of Cuisine Solutions online products and prices is available at cuisinesolutions.com.

 

The sous vide products egg bites, sliced beef and oatmeal bites are also available in Costco stores. Sous vide egg bites are small rounds made with four cheeses, turkey bacon and, of course, eggs. They can be heated in one minute in the microwave, or somewhat longer in a skillet or in the oven. Their flavor is mild and satisfying with a texture somewhere between an omelet and a frittata. Perfect for a quick breakfast or pick-me-up.

 

International Sous Vide Day is celebrated each year on Jan. 26, Dr. Goussault’s birthday, which this year falls on Sunday. Celebrations are held not only in Washington, but also in Bangkok, Dubai and Paris, cities in the Cuisine Solutions family. In honor of the occasion, Cuisine Solutions is sponsoring a sous vide brunch at the Estuary Restaurant in the Conrad Hotel beginning at 12:30 on the 26th. Guests will explore the French roots of the sous vide technique with special guest chef Kyle Cunnaughton of Single Thread Farm Restaurant of Healdsburg, Sonoma, specializing in Japanese-inspired preparations of seasonal cuisine. 

Proceeds from the $125 ticket sales for the brunch will benefit C-CAP (Careers Through Culinary Arts Program), a national non-profit organization that trains and educates underserved young people through culinary arts in preparation for the workplace. 

• Corinna Lothar is a Washington writer, critic and frequent contributor to The Washington Times.

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