Last year, I had the pleasure to act as a co-supervisor for two students at in their final project for the Food and beverage management study at the University of Stavanger. The focus was low-temperature cooking.
The students, Eirik Nestavoll and Martin M. Stokkan (both chefs), attended this as a continuing professional development study. The aim of their experimentally angled final project was whether "new cooking methods" might give economic gain to hotels.
More juicy = reduced water loss?
New cooking methods, such as sous vide, low temperature cooking and "gourmet salting" are known to give more juicy (and tender) meat. Eirik and Martin's idea was: "more juicy" = "lower water loss"? If so, a restaurant might use less meat per serving, and thus save money (late addition: ...since the size of meat servings are commonly measured by weight). Mentioning this to my colleagues, the first response I got was "typical; restaurants always look for an extra profit". However, saving money might also mean that the restaurant can afford to use higher-quality meat while at the same time keeping the prices at an affordable level (I guess this might apply to cases such as the Little Chef - Heston Blumenthal collaboration, numerous links).
The methods chosen were combinations of low-temperature sous vide cooking and "gourmet salting" (before cooking) as compared to high-temperature cooking and salting after cooking. When cooking at lower temperature (at longer cooking times), the muscle fibres and proteins contract/denature to a lesser degree, resulting in more juicy meat, hence lower water loss. Also, what is referred reported by the Danish Meat Research Institute as "gourmet salting" (pdf, via this link), a mild and rapid dry curing before cooking, is shown to result in more tender and juicy meat.
The meat used was striploin/boneless strip (no: ytrefilet) and several parallel experiments were conducted under identical conditions for valid comparison.
Comparing gourmet salted meat sous vide cooked at 65 °C to unsalted meat cooked at 200 °C resulted in almost 10% lower weight loss between the two extremes. For a hotel serving thousands of guests each year this might build up to a considerable amount if one can reduce the amount of meat for each serving accordingly (of course there are many factors to take into account apart from the mere water loss). I guess it's up to the hotels to choose what these resources might be spent on. Higher quality produce? Hiring more people, giving less of a workload to those working in the kitchen? ...or money in the pockets of the shareholders?