ChefSteps’ Joule Is a Smarter Immersion Wand for Sous Vide
The team behind the instructional cooking videos at ChefSteps has taken the leap from content to hardware. The company has created an immersion circulator for sous vide cooking called the Joule.
The wand is a compact and fully sealed tube that stands 11 inches tall. Its meant for preparing vegetables and proteins sous vide, a technique where food is placed into a plastic bag and submerged in a water bath that’s held at a stable temperature for the duration of the cooking time. The job of an immersion circulator is to keep the water hot—and hold it at a very specific temperature—for as long as the menu item takes to cook, sometimes hours. We’ve seen exemplary sous vide immersion circulators from Anova, Sansaire, and Nomiku in recent years. And now, ChefSteps joins the growing market.
The Heat Is On
It makes sense for a sous vide wand to be the first product from the Seattle-based company—if you’re familiar with the videos ChefSteps produces, it’s obvious that sous vide is coded into the company’s DNA. A few weeks ago, the ChefSteps crew stopped by the WIRED office to show us the Joule. Co-founder and CEO Chris Young told us that the product was born out of their “frustration” with the current options on the sous vide market. While he stressed that there are excellent immersion circulators available now, the team felt there were some features they could add that would hit the level of utility that professional chefs have been seeking.
The most obvious difference is the size. At 11 inches tall and 1.85 inches wide, the Joule is smaller than any sous vide wand we’ve seen—small enough for a chef to pack it into a knife roll. It’s also powerful enough for a pro kitchen: 1100 watts, the same as the Sansaire and a little more than the Anova.
The thing chefs will really dig, however, is the software. Unlike other sous vide wands, the Joule doesn’t have a display. There’s an indicator light to tell you that it’s on, but everything else happens in a smartphone app. You use Joule’s app (iOS and Android) to dial in a temperature, then watch the progress on the screen as your bath approaches your desired temp. The app comes with presets for specific kinds of protein, but you can also program the Joule to run more complex routines. For example, you can instruct it to heat a water bath to different temperatures at different times—useful if you’re cooking filets for a table where everyone prefers a different level of doneness. The Joule pairs to the app over Bluetooth as well as Wi-Fi. The Wi-Fi is crucial; since it works beyond Bluetooth’s standard range of 60-odd feet, a chef can monitor the temperature of a water bath from anywhere in the building.
And of course, since ChefSteps specializes in videos, there are heaps of instructional clips in the app to walk you through the preset recipes. One nice touch: there are different videos demonstrating different levels of doneness, so you can see the difference between what medium-rare salmon and medium-well salmon looks like as its demolished by a fork and spoon.
The device will cost $299 when it makes its retail debut in the summer of 2016, but those who want to be among the first to get a Joule can pre-order one now for just $199. That discounted price—which is a direct purchase from ChefSteps and not a preorder through a crowdfunding platform—is available through January 15th. The preorders will ship in May.