For its most recent wine dinner, BraeBurn CC’s Executive Chef Pedro Sanchez used sous vide to create a special, temperature-controlled to-go kit that members could reheat at home.
When the president of the wine club at BraeBurn Country Club (Houston, Texas) came to Executive Chef Pedro Sanchez and suggested a virtual wine dinner, Sanchez felt worried.
“Wine dinners can be difficult in the best of scenarios,” he says. “They demand well thought-out menus and complicated preparations with fragile and often expensive ingredients. We didn’t want to lose the ‘wow’ factor we’ve come to be known for just because members would have to participate virtually.”
As a chef who enjoys cooking using sous vide, Sanchez realized this might be the solution to providing a successful wine dinner for his members virtually.
For the uninitiated, sous vide involves heating a water bath to a specific temperature and then submerging food that has been sealed in a plastic pouch in that bath for a certain amount of time. This cooking method tends to lock in flavor and provide a more precise cook. By using sous vide method to reheat the courses, Sanchez says it mades the process simple for members without lowering the quality of the food.
After deciding on this method, Sanchez selected menu items that he believed would work best and practiced the timing and temperatures to ensure everything came out the way he wanted it.
“You have to be way more aware of organization and every single step,” says Sanchez.
The first course featured a butter poached shrimp salad paired with a 2018 Far Niente Estate Bottled Chardonnay. The second course featured a pan-seared arctic char with a 2017 EnRoute Pinot Noir. The third course highlighted a French braised short rib paired with a 2017 Far Niente Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, and peach mille-feuille matched by a 2013 Dolce Late Harvest.
Sanchez’s biggest challenge was that members wouldn’t necessarily have their own immersion circulators in order to control the temperature of the water. So, he added a thermometer to each order so that members could control the water temperature and ensure proper reheating. He also created a video explaining preparation and included detailed, written instructions for members to follow.
He planned the menu to heat the different courses in two pots of boiling water, with one pot at 155°F and the other at 135°F, to ensure each part wasn’t over- or under-heated.
Sanchez says he prepped most of the courses the day before, but waited until the day of pick-up to seal the seafood to ensure freshness.
Members came to the club to pick their meals up and Sanchez says he received many positive messages after the fact. He found that many of his members own immersion circulators, so next time he plans to develop his instructions around using the circulators as opposed to a pot and thermometer.
“We’re excited to think more about virtual events like these,” says Sanchez. “This might go on for a few more months so we have to adjust and find new ways like this to connect with members and enrich the dining experience.”
For the next event in September, Sanchez says he feels confident to continue using sous vide and wants to raise the registration number from 60 to 80. He and his team will make minor menu changes and add photos to the instructions to further help members.
“It will be easier now that we know what to expect,” says Sanchez.