Molecular Cuisine

You have probably heard of Avant-Garde Cuisine, but what about Molecular Cuisine?  Huh?  I knew nothing about this fascinating scientific approach to cooking before I attended the Women in Food Industry Management (WFIM) networking event featuring Chef John Placko at Humber College in October.   And the attendees at the event were either huge Chef Placko/molecular cuisine fans, or had no idea what they were getting into that night.

Molecular cuisine (or gastronomy) investigates the physical and chemical transformations of ingredients that occur during cooking. It is a modern style of cooking and uses many technical & chemical innovations.  Chef Placko shared with us the three key elements to molecular cuisine: modern kitchen ingredients, unique equipment, and precise techniques.

One not so modern ingredient that was used was Sunflower Oil, which Chef Placko says is a great product to use because it doesn’t alter the taste of the main ingredients (The National Sunflower Association was a sponsor for the event – www.canadasunflower.com).Proscuitto with Melon Pearls

Spherification was an interesting technique that Chef Placko used to make the Proscuitto with melon pearls that we tasted.  This process used ingredients such as Sodium Alginate and Calcium Chloride.

We also tasted Genoa salami with whipped parmesan cheese and black olive crumbs.  How do you whip parmesan cheese?  Chef Placko showed us this Aeration technique using sodium citrate and then placed into a siphon whip with 35% cream. And black olive crumbs? That’s a dehydration process.

genoa salami w whipped parmesan & black olive crumbs

Next on the menu was Sous vide turkey, cranberry foam, sous vide butternut squash, turkey snow, turkey skin crackling, stuffing micro sponge.  This was Thanksgiving dinner “deconstructed”!

turkey dinnerSous vide is basically a water bath, that uses pressure, temperature and time to cook the product. The benefit of this technique was an extremely moist, tender turkey breast! To create Turkey “snow” Chef Placko added malto-dextrin (a starch, usually from corn or tapioca, with no discernable flavor) to turkey fat to turn it into a delicate powder. Once this powder hits your tongue, it’s all gravy from there! The stuffing micro sponge was fun to watch Chef Placko create.  The stuffing was aerated, and then microwaved.  It literally looked like a sponge, and tasted like mom’s stuffing.  The cranberry foam was created using the ingredient versawhip.

carrot ice cream

Finally, dessert. Liquid nitrogen carrot ice cream, white chocolate snow, lemon fluid gel, flexible caramel, shattered raspberry and carbonated strawberry. Carrot ice cream?   It was delicious!  Chef Placko and his team made the ice cream right in front of us, using liquid nitrogen.   The carrot puree he used was from Canadian Prairie Garden (www.canadianprairiegarden.com).

The lemon fluid gel was made with agar and xanthan gum. And the flexible caramel was made with a blend of iota and kappa carrageenan. You see these items on ingredient lists all the time, but who knew what you could possibly do with them in your own kitchen?

Our eyes have been opened, and our taste buds mesmorized! But without investing in specialized equipment to use these techniques at home, where can we get more? Many restaurants feature menus of molecular cuisine.  Moto (Chicago), Noma (Copenhagen), The Fat Duck (UK), El Cellar de Can Roca (Spain), Alinea (Chicago), and Minibar (Washington DC).   Soon we won’t have to travel so far to find molecular cuisine:  Chef Placko is opening his own molecular gastronomy restaurant at the Pearson International Airport!

The next thing to investigate: Molecular Mixology!

 

 

National Sunflower Association networks with WFIM

The NSA sponsored WFIM’s October networking event at The International Center, featuring the Queen of Networking, Donna Messer. Chris & her associate were handing our sunflower seeds to all attendees, and held a draw for a lovely bouquet of sunflowers, and a watch/pen set.  Here’s what Chris had to say about their sponsorship:

“The National Sunflower Association (NSA) recently sponsored a WFIM networking event.This was an excellent opportunity for representatives of the NSA to meet WFIM members and to share information on the benefits of sunflower oil. The NSA had a table to display information and WFIM also posted a short sunflower oil powerpoint presentation on a loop, on a large screen, so all of the guests could learn more about sunflower oil.  We had a good opportunity to speak with WFIM members about what type of oil they are using and also were able to gather business cards for possible future follow-up.  WFIM volunteers were terrific to work with and I would highly recommend other companies and associations investigate opportunities to promote their brands with this organization in the future.”

Chris Gould, Senior Vice President, Harbinger

On behalf of the National Sunflower Association

http://www.sunflowernsa.com

www.harbingerideas.com