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By now, the incredible power, versatility, and reliability of sous vide cooking are common knowledge. The technique is no longer the sole domain of chefs at the cutting edge, but instead has become a common cooking style among home cooks as well. But what if you are a professional chef or very serious hobbyist, and the modern sous vide devices made for home use just don’t fit what you need?
Depending on your cooking style, you may find that the variation in temperature with many of the most popular home sous vide immersion circulators is a serious issue. (And with some of these products, the temperature can be off by so much that it would be an issue for any sous vide preparation!) Especially when you’re trying to cook precisely, it’s absolutely vital to be able to rely on your device to hold the exact temperature you choose.
That’s where the PolyScience CHEF Series Professional Sous Vide immersion circulator really shines. It maintains your water bath’s temperature with scientific precision, staying within an incredible 1/10th of a degree Fahrenheit. There are very few other options out there with this level of accuracy. You’ll also be happy to know that you can control the pump flow, giving you greater control over the cooking conditions.
In short, if you’re a professional chef and want a device to use in the restaurant, we wholeheartedly recommend the PolyScience CHEF Series Professional Sous Vide Immersion Circulator! It may also be a fantastic pick for culinary students who want the option of using it in a professional kitchen, or even for some of the most advanced home cooks who want to cook in larger quantities with precision and control. We particularly appreciate its incredible temperature accuracy, its straightforward manual controls, its 8-gallon capacity, and its adjustable pump flow.
Key Features & Benefits
We keep going on about PolyScience’s incredible temperature precision, but that’s because it blows us away. Accuracy of 1/10th of a degree Fahrenheit is almost unheard of from other manufacturers. In fact, some home devices by other brands have reports of temperature variation of up to 5° Fahrenheit or more. When you’re using a technique as precise and deliberate as sous vide, this level of accuracy is invaluable.
When you buy a PolyScience product, you know you’re getting quality. The company has long been at the cutting edge of culinary technology, and is renowned for its products. While other devices may cost less upfront, you won’t save money in the long term if you need to keep replacing them.
Just because your food is complex, it doesn’t mean your technology needs to be! Despite the trend toward high-tech gadgets, we prefer keeping things old-fashioned for devices that you actually need to work reliably. For this reason, we think the lack of Bluetooth or WiFi capability on this immersion circulator is actually a good thing. You can simply set the intuitive manual controls and then get to cooking right away, with no concerns for whether your WiFi is acting up that day or your phone is refusing to pair over Bluetooth. (We’ve all been there, right?)
Finally, the adjustable pump flow might be unnecessary for a home cook. But as a professional chef, you need as much control over the process and results as possible, so we appreciate that the CHEF series immersion circulator includes this feature.
Comparison: PolyScience CHEF Series vs. PolyScience CREATIVE Series
We’ve already done an in-depth review of the excellent PolyScience CREATIVE Series Sous Vide Immersion Circulator, which we highly recommend for home cooks. While the two machines have some important features in common, we’ll also focus on their differences to help you figure out which is right for you.
First, both machines have the incredible temperature accuracy of 1/10th of a degree Fahrenheit, allowing you to achieve excellent and precise results consistently. Both are well-built machines that are intended to last, not cheap budget pieces that will let you get a taste for sous vide before you upgrade to something else. And both are fully manually controlled, without WiFi or Bluetooth capability or an app that will operate the machine.
The most important difference between the two machines is that the CREATIVE immersion circulator is intended for home use and not rated for commercial use. This is incredibly important if you’re a chef or restaurateur and want a device that you can use professionally.
The CHEF series offers a larger capacity, making it a better choice for professionals. It can handle up to 8 gallons of water, while the CREATIVE device can only take up to 5.3 gallons.
In terms of circulation, the CHEF series wins again. It can circulate up to 3.2 gallons per minute, compared to just 1.6 for the CREATIVE.
Surprisingly, the CREATIVE sous vide device actually has a higher maximum temperature than the CHEF. The CREATIVE can go up to 210°F (98.8°C), while the CHEF is limited to 200°F (93.3°C). This is a 10° F (5.5°C) difference, which isn’t the end of the world, but we definitely wish that the CHEF had this extra capability. It’s surprising that PolyScience would opt to give home cooks more temperature flexibility than professional chefs, but if you don’t cook between 200-210° F (93.3-98.8°C), you might not need this extra range anyway.
(Note: PolyScience’s highest-tier immersion circulator, the CLASSIC, also only goes to 200° F (93.3°C). In other words, they don’t offer a commercially rated device that reaches temperatures as high as their option for home cooks.)
Finally, the CHEF has adjustable pump flow, which the CREATIVE does not. When you’re in a professional kitchen, it’s useful to have as much control as possible, so we appreciate the inclusion of this feature.
Pros & Cons
PolyScience has three lines of sous vide immersion circulators: the CREATIVE for the home cook, and the CHEF and the CLASSIC for chefs or restaurant/commercial use.
Either of these two professional options includes remarkable temperature precision, great durability, and the manual controls that we love for keeping things simple. With that said, of the two professional options, the CHEF is dramatically more affordable, and we would recommend it over the CLASSIC.
Of course, that’s not to say that this device is only for chefs. If you’re an avid home cook who’s truly passionate about sous vide and wants one of the best machines out there, this may work for you as well. Its larger capacity and adjustable flow are selling points over the CREATIVE—just be aware that they’re not necessary for typical home use.
Specs and Details
- Maximum capacity: 8 gallons
- WiFi or Bluetooth enabled: No
- WiFi required: No
- Adjustable flow: Yes
- Pump rate: 3.2 gallons (12 liters) per minute
- Wattage: 1100W
- Maximum temperature: 200°F (93.3°C)
- Weight: 9.1 pounds
The PolyScience CHEF immersion circulator is dramatically higher priced than the options available for home use—but that’s because it’s not intended for home use. As a commercially rated device, this one is ready to become the next gadget in your professional kitchen, and it’s priced accordingly.
You can definitely find commercially rated immersion circulators that are less pricey, like the Anova Culinary Sous Vide Precision Cooker Pro. However, those tend to lack the precise temperature accuracy of the PolyScience CHEF device.
If you’re a chef, restaurateur, or other culinary professional looking for an excellent device that you can use in the workplace, the PolyScience CHEF immersion circulator absolutely fits the bill. It’s commercially rated, so it’s not limited to home use.
Its temperature precision, adjustable water flow, durability, straightforward manual controls, and generous (but not excessive) capacity makes it our top pick from the professional sous vide immersion circulators that we’ve reviewed.
It’s hard to talk about alternatives when the original device is this good! Again, for most home cooks, we think this would be a fantastic choice. With that said, if you’re looking for something specific, here are a few great alternatives with various strengths. (And to learn more, you can read all about them in our list of the best immersion circulators for sous vide!).
Best budget alternative: Anova Culinary Sous Vide Precision Cooker Pro. We prefer the PolyScience CHEF machine for all the incredible reasons detailed throughout this review. However, we all know that most restaurants aren’t exactly overflowing with extra cash. And while it can’t match the precision of the CHEF, the Anova Pro is the best budget option we’ve found for commercial use.
Best option for home cooks: Anova Culinary Sous Vide Precision Cooker. Let’s be honest: the PolyScience CHEF device is overkill (and overpriced) for what all but the most passionate home cooks need. The Anova option isn’t as impressive as the PolyScience CHEF in some ways, but it’s a fantastic tool for the home cook (and comes at a fraction of the price). And if it sounds like we’re fixated on Anova for some reason, we promise we’re not! It’s simply that these two brands dominate the sous vide market for good reason.