Burger chain weighs up merits of sous vide

RBW Spur exterior

Restaurant chain RBW is examining whether sous vide has a role to play in its kitchens as it looks to enhance its menu offering following the launch of new smaller format, high street stores.

The group, which specialises in ribs, burgers and wings, and is part of the giant Spur Corporation from South Africa, recently openedd the first of several planned sites in Corby, Northamptonshire.

A range of innovative cooking equipment has been designed into the compact kitchen on site to meet demand for up to 90 covers at a time, but its next big catering equipment project involves exploring the feasibility of introducing sous vide to the equation.

EHO regulations dictate that burgers are not allowed to be served under 75°C, which renders medium or medium-rare for a mince product totally out of the question. But using the sous vide process to kill the bacteria before it is put through the Ovention impingement oven that it uses could allow it to offer a medium-rare burger without contravening food safety guidelines.

Additionally, sous vide could have implications for the way it produces ribs. At the moment RBW follows on an hour-long steaming process, assisted by convection, to get the product to the right state before the marinade is applied. The next day they are re-gened for 10 minutes on 100% steam to get up to temperature, held in warmers and cooked in the Ovention to order.

However, the addition of sous vide potentially alters the game, according to UK director, David Maich.

He said: “If we pre-cook ribs and it is a sous vide product we can cook the marinade in there and it will fuse with the meat so that the meat tastes amazing. We can lightly crisp it up through the Ovention and when it is dipped in basting sauce it literally falls off the bone. What you don’t want is this ‘boil in the bag’ situation where the bones almost disintegrate into your mouth — that is not what we are looking at, we are looking at a proper rack of ribs where sous vide is used to inject the marinade and to increase the flavour of the product. It is not in place yet, but it is something we are investigating. We have sent our core products to a company to test for us and then I am going to do a workshop with them later this month.”

RBW is part of a strategy by Spur Corporation to develop the business beyond its traditional shopping centre and food court territory, to introduce a smaller, counter-service high street model.

The group already operates the Spur Steak & Grill restaurants in the UK but the new concept is seen as a much more feasible way to expand.

“While we will continue to operate our existing Spur Steak and Grill outlets, we believe RBW is the way forward for the business,” says Maich. “Our new model refreshes the whole Spur offer and the smaller menu allows for greater flexibility and faster service, while still delivering on freshness, quality and value for money. The concept is very exciting and we are driving hard to open three more sites before the end of the year.”

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