In our continuing series of interviews with some of the great chefs around the globe, who have embraced sous vide cooking, we bring you:
Executive Chef Nathan Green, 22 Ships, Hong Kong
SVS: How and when in your career did you first come across sous vide cooking?
NG: I first began using sous vide techniques in 2004 whilst working with Adam Byatt at Thyme and later in 2006 at Arbutus with Anthony Demetre. I found sous vide interesting because it allowed us to serve many guests whilst maintaining consistency.
SVS: Do you feel that sous vide cooking is a good option for home cooks as well as professional chefs?
NG: Sous vide cooking is a great option for both home cooks and chefs. The cooking method is great for dinner parties and allows you to cook healthy food with the maximum flavour as well as get on with your daily tasks whilst knowing that you’ll have a perfectly cooked dinner waiting for you when you get home. A wide range of meals can be made from BBQ meats to curry and even a roast dinner. Sous vide is especially useful in Hong Kong as the majority of apartments don’t have ovens and stoves tend to be small, it really makes life easier.
SVS: How does the SousVide Supreme compare to other sous vide cooking devices in your opinion?
NG: The SousVide Supreme water oven is a restaurant quality piece of equipment that is ideal for the home cook. I have tested it against a few other brands of sous vide baths and it came out on top for me; it’s able to compete with baths that are twice the price. The equipment is easy to use and is a good size.
SVS: What are the additional benefits of cooking with this self-contained device?
NG: It is a clean way of cooking that doesn’t require much space. You can cook a multitude of dishes at once using separation racks and can be stored away easily after it has been used.
SVS: What are the main foods that you cook in your water oven at 22 Ships?
NG: At 22 Ships we use the SousVide Supreme water oven to slow cook and tenderize different types of meat, such as steak and pork chops, and ensure that they are not overcooked. We slow cook the eggs for the signature dish Spanish Breakfast (shown below) as well as a lot of the vegetables to retain the flavour and nutrients. During service the piece of machinery is used to hold foam guns and purees at the exact right temperature as well as bring items of meat or veg to their correct temperature. We also use sous vide at our sister restaurant, Ham & Sherry for the 62 degree egg in our migas dish.
SVS: Do you feel that sous vide cooking enables cooks to be more adventurous and creative in the kitchen? If so, how?
NG: Yes, definitely. The bath allows for the focus to be placed elsewhere without worrying about the drop in quality on more simple items which leads to more time being spent on dressing plates or cooking more elaborate garnishes. The SousVide Supreme water oven is like an extra set of hands in the kitchen; it’s a huge time saver.
SVS: What and who are your main influences as a professional chef?
NG: What drives me is simplicity, quality ingredients and great flavours. All of the chefs I have worked for have influenced me greatly including Adam Byatt, Tom Aikens, Phil Howard, Anthony Demetre and most of all Michel Caines as he kept me going when I was almost ready to quit the industry. Jason Atherton has been an amazing mentor in the short space of time I have worked with him.
SVS: How does cooking under Jason Atherton at 22 Ships differ from your role at Story Restaurant in London in terms of foods, flavours, ingredients and techniques?
NG: My role at 22 Ships is different in many ways. I get to design the menu and I get constant feedback from Jason on my food and ideas, which really helps me grow as a chef. Jason reigns in ideas and reminds me that the guests are the most important part of the restaurant. The food at 22 Ships is mostly based around great produce, which means we have to import most of the ingredients. It’s also really great being able to take influences from Cantonese cooking. Both restaurants use modern techniques and have been wonderful places to work.
SVS: Your international chef experience has exposed you to a world of flavours! Which are the specific tastes and ingredients that work particularly well in Hong Kong?
NG: I wouldn’t say there are any specific examples of what works well over here and not in other parts of the world. Hong Kong people are foodies and are open to different flavours and textures. I have a small obsession with Chinese chives as they have a really mild hint of garlic.
SVS: Do you have any specific tips or insights you’d like to share with our community of home cooks who cook with the SousVide Supreme water oven?
NG: I always recommend people to experiment and try as many different flavour combinations as possible and to find a cooking temperature that works for what you would like to cook. Personally I prefer the following guidelines:
• 188F/87c for vegetables
• 185F/85c tough cuts of meat
• 134F/57c prime cuts of meat
• 126F/52c Fish
Hungry for more? Try Chef Green’s Hen’s Egg with Bravas Sauce, Fried Potatoes, Potato Espuma and Chorizo (above) or his fabulous Baked Bone Marrow with Onion Jam and Gentleman’s Relish, below.