Pictured: Chef Christopher of Kaiser Permanente cooking Sous Vide
PolyScience had the opportunity to interview Executive Chef Christopher A. Haydostian of Kaiser Permanente, who recently converted his cooking operation to utilize sous vide throughout their repertoire. After being trained by the "Godfather of Sous Vide Cooking", Dr. Bruno Goussault, Chef Christopher realized that there were many benefits that sous vide could bring to his operation from reductions in cost and waste, better time management, consistency and more. Read below as Chef details how the Sous Vide Cooking Technique has enhanced his operation.
Chef, please explain your culinary background.
My background is an interesting one and starts with me being a Computer Graphic artist and ends as a Chef. I changed careers in my early 20’s and left the light of Hollywood to pursue my passion of cooking. To gain a knowledge base and starting point for this profession, I ended up attending the California School of Culinary Arts. Upon graduating I immediately became a sous chef for McCormick & Schmicks, a national seafood/steak restaurant chain. Learning the skills of the trade, I was recruited to Las Vegas, NV to join the Grand Lux Café family (part of the Cheescake Factory group). Honing my skills there, I went on to work at a high-end country club, do some consulting and landing at Joe’s Seafood Prime Steak & Stone Crab. Once the economy crashed, It was time to move back to Los Angeles, CA and I joined Sodexo (contract food service). After spending many years with them, I moved on and joined my current family, Kaiser Permanente – West Los Angeles.
How did you learn how to cook sous vide and how have you expanded your knowledge of sous vide cooking since then?
I was trained by Bruno Goussault of CREA (Culinary Research & Education Academy). Bruno is considered one of the forefathers of sous vide and extends a wealth of knowledge unparalleled to anyone/where else. After learning the ins and outs of sous vide, I continue to learn from fellow chefs and publications. Online groups are my primary extended learning forum where I get to share what I know as well as learn from fellow culinarians. There is also a new publication that came out last year called Sous-Vide Magazine that I subscribe to.
Pictured: Dr. Bruno Goussault and Chef Christopher A. Haydostian
How has sous vide cooking and precise temperature control changed your approach in the kitchen?
Having the ability to precisely control my cooking temperatures has completely changed how I look at cooking. Specifically, my dealings with proteins. To be able to control the absolute temperature of a steak or allow a roast to slowly breakdown, is just short of magic. The consistency and control that you gain is unparalleled to any other form of cooking.
What are you cooking sous vide?
We currently cook sous vide for our patients at the hospital. With that said, we sous vide our main proteins - beef & chicken. This will consist of everything from a chuck roast to boneless skinless chicken breast. I plan to add my salmon in the near future.
What type of sous vide system are you using?
Our sous vide system includes:
MiniPack MVS52 DV X
Henkelman Boxer 52II with Liquid Control & Gas Flush
Polyscience Sous Vide Professional Immersion Circulator with SS Basin
Thermoworks Data Logger
Specifically, what advantages have you and your organization experienced by using this technique?
Sous vide has been great for my organization on multiple levels. Consistency in products has been a BIG win for our department. It is also a large cost savings by implementing a sous vide program. We have virtually eliminated all waste on proteins and there is no chance to “overcook” an item. It has also helped with inventory control by having a food bank built up of packaged items, it’s super easy to count and make production calls. It also almost streamlines our process for my staff so they can concentrate on multi-tasking more. Other gains are the ability to extend shelf-life, proper portion control, ability to buy in bulk (cost savings), same packaging for storage/reheating, enhances flavor of food, prevents moisture loss, and best of all it keeps our food looking fresh.
How has this technique helped you from an operational perspective?
As noted above, we have seen a cost savings in our product cost. By maintaining a tighter inventory control and almost minimizing waste we have saved enough to pay for the program conversion and then some. There is an inherent time savings for my staff as well, so they can multi-task more efficiently by doing other work while the sous vide baths do the hard work for them. The easy cost savings comes from the ability to buy in larger volumes (to reduces product costs) and minimizing packaging needs (by using the same bag for storage and reheating).
How can healthcare institutions benefit from sous vide cooking?
Healthcare institutions can see great benefits in consistency, waste reduction, health benefits for patients, tighter inventory control, enhance flavor & appearance of food, and reduced products costs. These factors are tied to one another. Sous vide provides the same product every time and cooked to the perfect temperature. It is very much a set it and forget it kind of method. You merely need to know how to work with the units and know the proper settings to create incredible results. That is how you will achieve your consistency. By having products bagged and only cooked when needed, you are virtually eliminating waste. There is no longer an issue of “overcooking” a steak or anything else. You can get your perfect meat temperature, every time. When cooking sous vide, you are keeping the juices and flavors of the product inside the bag. You are also cooking it in that set/tight environment. By doing so, it helps create/make your food taste and look better.