Sous Vide

Just Throw Your Dinner in...the Washing Machine?

April 24, 2017

Last week, Iftach Gazit, a student at Israel’s Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, debuted a bag he’s dubbed “Sous La Vie” (quite literally, “under life”). It’s an art project—not a real product, at least not yet—that promises to bring sous vide cooking to the convenience of your washing machine.

In his project, Gazit’s taken waterproof bags made of DuPont Tyvek industrial fabric with uncooked ingredients for various meals inside, from salmon in teriyaki sauce to vegetables in olive oil. Each bag is printed with washing instructions that double as cooking instructions. Set your cycle and watch it go. Clean your linens, cook a steak.

Again, this product is a hypothetical one; Gazit has no plans to roll it out anytime soon. Instead, he's using it as a form of social commentary: Gazit was moved to create this project after a recent visit to New York, where he was alarmed by the city’s large homeless population and the barriers they faced to what he perceived as basic human rights—like, for example, food. Laundromats, he discovered, were vital sites of refuge for the homeless. He began to wonder, then, whether it'd be possible to cook some food there.

“The food we eat, and the way we eat it, reflects on our taste but much more on our economic abilities and culture,” Gazit writes on his website. To bolster this thesis, Gazit points to the advent of the TV dinner in the United States in the postwar era, and how it was the result of more women being occupied by day jobs. It fulfilled a certain need in America's social landscape for fast, easy meals prepped with minimal effort. Could the “sous la vie” bag be our generation’s TV dinner, solving this problem of access for those without a permanent home? This question is the tease of his project.

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Some may find Gazit's argument a reach, and you’re entitled to that takeaway; most of the coverage I've seen has been pretty glib, dismissing this project offhand as the byproduct of some design student’s boredom. But I honestly find his aims difficult to criticize. What's so stupid about imagining new possibilities for how to get more food to more people? We've all got to eat.

What's your take on the "Sous La Vie" project: crazy or genius? Let us know in the comments.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Whiteantlers
  • Smaug
  • Lori Antonacchio
    Lori Antonacchio
  • Alice
Mayukh Sen is a James Beard Award-winning food and culture writer in New York. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Bon Appetit, and elsewhere. He won a 2018 James Beard Award in Journalism for his profile of Princess Pamela published on Food52.


Whiteantlers April 24, 2017
It's good to see someone focusing on the problems homeless people face regarding things we all (the domiciled) take for granted-like a warm safe place where one can cook a meal.

From time to time, a story pops up online about someone cooking a "sous vide" type meal in the dishwasher or in/on their car manifold.
Smaug April 24, 2017
Unfortunately, many of the homeless also lack washing machines.
Alice May 2, 2017
Yes, that's why he mentioned Laundromats, and the fact that the homeless can usually access one of them.
Smaug April 24, 2017
Seems a bit wasteful (among other things). I do recall someone on a sitcom trying to thaw a turkey in the dryer- didn't work too well.
Alice May 2, 2017
Why is it wasteful to launder clothes and cook a meal at the same time using the hot wash water? Seems to me that's the exact opposite of wasteful. Are you aware how sous vide cooking works? Please explain why this method would be considered wasteful (and the other things, too).
Smaug May 2, 2017
Yeah, I'm also aware of how a wash cycle works, the generous water temperatures favored by laundromat owners and the like. Are people actually taking this stuff seriously? Amazing.
Alice May 2, 2017
Feeding people? Yes, I take that seriously. Even though this is just a concept, I think it's pretty darn creative. Still don't get why you think this is wasteful.
Smaug May 2, 2017
I'm out- if you want to take this seriously, welcome to it, but you should probably give it a try- preferably in a low rent laundromat (bring LOTS of quarters)- before announcing the end of hunger in the world.
Lori A. April 24, 2017
Well, why not? We've been microwave "cooking" for decades now. Granted you won't get a beautiful sear on any protein, however with the right seasonings, heat levels/timing, etc. the food can and will be thoroughly cooked and thouroughly edible!!