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"Food Science"/Modernist Cuisine Demo


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I've offered to do an hour long "food science" panel at my local science fiction convention, and I'm trying to figure out what would be fun and doable to demo and sample. The idea is to demo some modernist type techniques/ingredients.

What I'm thinking so far:

- spherification for sure

- something with tapioca maltodextrin (probably bacon powder)

- something with liquid nitrogen? Maybe the popcorn recipes from Ideas in Food cookbook? This group is very used to liquid nitrogen ice cream, so this needs to be different.

I've got a very limited modernist pantry, but am game to have the excuse to buy a few more supplies. What ideas do you all have for things that could be demoed in that time frame? I could also do some prep in advance ideas, like making and dehydrating a Methocel F50 foam so people could sample it, and just whip up the foam in the room so they can see what that looks like.

I'll have a hot plate for cooking, and whatever cooking tools I need - blender, stand mixer, etc.

Thanks for ideas!

Tammy's Tastings

Creating unique food and drink experiences

eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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Foams and airs as always good for a laugh, if you have a foam siphon and/or lecithin. If you have a vacuum chamber (or canisters and a FoodSaver), you could do aerated vacuum-set chocolate, which I thought was pretty cool.

Also, depending on what kind of gear you have, and how "food science-y" you want to get, slow-cooked eggs are pretty neat for demoing protein coagulation.

Are you looking to do "tricks" or actual exploration of the physical and chemical properties of food?

Matthew Kayahara



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You could do a range of 6X C eggs to demonstrate both the effect of heat on protein and the value of precise temperature control. If you have a rotovap, you could try something like fracitional distilling to show off the different range of volatiles in flavor. If you have a chamber vacuum, you could make a rapid infusion or watermelon "meat". I also wouldn't neglect the role of the microwave in modernist cuisine either.

If all you're going after is eye-catching and novelty, that's fine but, IMHO, such demonstrations have a negative effect on people's understanding of modernist cuisine and give them the impression that it's all just weird for the sake of weird. Demonstrating fundamental principles in an entertaining way would be a better way to go IMHO.

PS: I am a guy.

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I have no chamber vac or rotovap. Or more precise temperature control device than my ghetto sous vide beer cooler filled with hot water. (Although I am thinking I might ask Santa for a Sous Vide Supreme for Christmas.)

One of the things I appreciate about modernist techniques is the ability to play with texture and form and flavor - which I guess you could call tricks for tricks sake, but I think can be fun and help change the way we think about food.

But I do like the idea of incorporating some techniques that demonstrate more of the underlying principles, as well as the flashy fun stuff that will appeal to this audience. I just need to figure out what I have or can acquire the equipment and knowledge to actually talk about when it comes to that.

Tammy's Tastings

Creating unique food and drink experiences

eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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In the short form of the now-famous Food Science class at Harvard, the demonstration is not something that looks dramatic but measurement of the thickness of crust on a chocolate cake with a molten interior, relating the measurement to the predicted thicknesses. In other words, food science does not have to be just about tricks, as Mr. Kayahara notes.

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If you have a deep-fryer, you could do some sort of puffed snack, too. I think that's a pretty cool technique (if time-consuming), and it should play well if the crowd is already familiar with pork rinds.

I'm going to be doing it in a hotel room, so deep frying is definitely out the question, sadly.

Tammy's Tastings

Creating unique food and drink experiences

eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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