EDMONTON — Conversation about science and technology dominated the Thursday afternoon educational program at the 50th Anniversary National Conference of the Canadian Culinary Federation (CCFCC) held in Edmonton this week. The conference focused on sous-vide cooking and social-media marketing.
The conversation began with an examination of sous-vide cooking. Phillip Preston, president of the Polyscience Innovative Culinary Technology based in Niles, Michigan, said sous vide provides more control and allows for perfect, repeatable results every time. “It is easy to learn, takes much of the stress out of cooking, and food can be held at a perfect level of doneness for a much longer time than usual methods allow,” he said.
Sous vide is a cooking method in which food is vacuum sealed in a plastic pouch and then cooked at a gentle temperature in a precisely controlled circulating water bath. The benefits of sous vide are as follows: delicate foods are prepared to an exact doneness; meals can be prepared ahead of time and taste delicious days later; and costs are reduced as tougher, less expensive cuts are transformed into tender, moist cuts. Foods “perfect for sous vide” include proteins such as meat, seafood and vegetables.
“But sous vide is not a magic bullet,” Preston said. “As with any food process, there are important considerations you must keep in mind. Boiling any product in a vacuum bag is not safe and unnecessary — lower temperature cooking works best.” Vacuum-packaged food creates an anaerobic (oxygen-free) or reduced oxygen environment, and, if improperly handled, dangerous bacteria such as salmonella and botulism can grow. Safe food handling and hygiene standards should always be maintained. Food cooked at low temperatures for extended periods of time can cause bacteria to multiply rapidly. The longer food is in the “danger zone” — temperatures between 40°F and 140°F (4.4°C to 60°C) — the faster bacteria can multiply and the more dangerous it can become. When food in a pouch has cooked for the required time, it has to be removed and served immediately or rapidly chilled. Cooling must be less than six hours from 130ºF to 41ºF. [cuisinetechnology.com]
Meanwhile, the conference also included a workshop called “Social Media for Chefs.” Chaired by Rosemary Malowany, principal consultant at Wild Rose Communications, Edmonton, the panel included: Connie DeSousa and John Jackson, Charcut Restaurant, Calgary; Carl Heinrich, Richmond Station, Toronto; and Joe Strybel of Polyscience, Niles. Mich.
Malowany gave the audience a quick tour of the top social media channels and how to use them. Facebook, with 12.8-million Canadian users, was described as “intimate” and “like having your family and friends over for dinner.” Key content factors include being visual, offering recipes, talking about ingredients, food preparation tips, menus. discounts, et cetera.
When it comes to Twitter, Malowany explained that it’s a fast growing service in Canada with users up 80 per cent over 2011. “Treat it like the cocktail party you go to after work; be casual, but stay professional. With a 140-word limit, you must provide rich content,” she said. “To be successful in the Twitter community, the user must tweet daily and respond to tweets quickly, certainly within a half day.”
Malowany also reviewed Linked In. “[It’s] like a Chamber of Commerce event calling for professional networking,” she said. “Its topics are business and industry.” She cautioned: “All connections should be known to each other, introduced through an acquaintance.”
Responding to a question from the floor, Malowany pointed out that it was technically possible to post a message on one site and have it shared with one or two others. “Possible, but never, never, never do it. Each site has its own tone, its own community and protocols. Each requires separate handling.”