ChefCuisine: top restaurant quality meals at home with a difference
While I am solidly behind the concept of cooking your own meals as much as possible, I do realize it's not possible to do that all the time for various reasons. Even in a household like ours, where both of us can cook to varying degrees, it's exhausting to do so every single day. Sure, you can go out to eat, but restaurant dining has its own issues too, ranging from parking to (in some countries) how much to tip to dealing with rude waitstaff or screaming kids at a neighboring table. Anyway, a service called ChefCuisine was just announced today here in France, and I found it so intriguing that I thought I'd talk about it a bit. (Note: all the links below are to French language sites or videos.)
Anne-Sophie Pic is one of the top chefs in the world, certainly one of the top female chefs...of which there are far too few. (Her 3 Michelin star restaurant, Maison Pic, happens to be pretty close to where we live (about an hour away) although I've never been because it's 3-star = expensive ^_^;) She is behind this new product and service called ChefCuisine. It's basically meals prepared under her supervision, that are delivered vacuum packed - i.e. in sous vide packets - and they are meant to be reheated in a dedicated sous vide machine. The machine, which comes with a plating kit, costs 199 euros.
30 meals are offered so far - appetizers and main course meals, no desserts. (I guess there aren't that many desserts that need sous-vide-ing...) An appetizer or soup costs 5 to 6 euros, and a main course dish costs 8 to 16 euros. It looks like the dishes offer will be very seasonal - at the moment for instance there is a cream of chestnut soup, scallops, and so forth. Here's one example, scallop with lentils or "St-Jacques lentilles: Noix de Saint-Jacques au beurre demi-sel, ragoût et velouté de lentilles aux épices douces".
The meals are not cheap, but if they are really top-restaurant quality it is less expensive than going to the actual restaurant. The problem with prepared meal delivery services is that at the last step, it has to be reheated and finished by the recipient, which may affect the results greatly. So, I guess the dedicated sous-vide machine is key to ensuring that the dishes are properly heated. You do need to plate each one up yoursel so the plating kit is a nice addition (I kind of want the kit by itself), but again it probably needs some dexterity to use properly.
I admit I'm rather intrigued...although it would be far better if you could use the machine for your own sous vide packets, which (as far as I can see from looking through the site briefly) is not possible. As it stands, that's a single-purpose piece of kitchen equipment with a vengeance.But still, I'm curious as to how well the machine works, how good the food tastes, and above all, whether this method of delivering food is going to take off.
The service was just announced today, and is available in France, Belgium and Switzerland only at the moment. (Note: You'll need to select a country on the first page, and as mentioned above the site is all in French.)
Here's a video with Chef Pic introducing the service.
What do you think? Would you try this kind of service, or is it too expensive, complicated, etc.?