Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Sign in to follow this  
chefg

Alinea Kitchen Design

Recommended Posts

I have to say designing the Alinea kitchen has been one of the most exciting experiences thus far in the opening of this restaurant. I have been fortunate to have been “raised” in some of the best kitchens in the country. When I arrived at the French Laundry in August 1996 the “new kitchen” had just been completed. Often times you would hear the man talk about the good old days of cooking on a residential range with only one refrigerator and warped out sauté pans with wiggly handles. When I started about 50% of the custom stainless steel was in place. The walls smooth with tile and carpet on the floors. I recall the feeling of anxiety when working for fear that I would dirty up the kitchen, not a common concern for most cooks in commercial kitchens.

The French Laundry kitchen didn’t stop, it continued to evolve over the four years I was there. I vividly remember the addition of the custom fish/canapé stainless unit. Allowing the poissonier to keep his mise en place in beautiful 1/9 pan rails instead of the ice cube filled fish lugs. Each advancement in technology and ergonomics made the kitchen a more efficient and exacting machine.

When I returned to the Laundry this past July for the 10th anniversary I was shocked that it had metomorphisized once again. The butcher room was now a sea of custom stainless steel low boys, the pot sink area was expanded, the walk-in moved, and an office added to the corner of the kitchen. The kitchen as I left it in June of 2001 was beautiful and extremely functional, of course it is even more so now. It is the relentless pursuit of detail and concise thought that allows the French Laundry kitchen to be one of the best for cooks to execute their craft…..16 hours a day.

This was good motivation.

When it came time to design my kitchen I drew on experiences at Trio, TFL and other kitchens I was familiar with to define the positives and negatives of those designs. We were faced with a 21x 44' rectangle. This space would not allow for my original kitchen design idea of four islands postioned throughout the kitchen, but ultimately gave way for the current design which I think is actually better than the original. But most the important aspect in shaping the final design was the cuisine. Due to the nature of food that we produce a typical layout with common equipment standards and dimensions do not work. Here is where the team drew on our experiences from Trio. By looking at the techniques we utilized we came to several conclusions.

1. A conventional range was not our main heat source. We do need the flat tops and some open burners for applications such as braising and limited stock work. But our overall use of this piece of equipment is somewhat low. Given that we wanted four open burners and two flat tops with two ovens I began to source out a reliable unit. We settled on the Molteni G230.

g_230_eng.resized.jpg

2. Upon analyzing our other heat source needs we decided to place a large focus on induction. By utilizing portable induction burners we are allowed the flexibility to give as much power as needed to a specific station in the kitchen. Obviously induction’s radiant heat is very low, and this allows us to keep the temperature in the kitchen reasonable, yet the power is quite high. 31,000 BTU's of highly controlable heat. But the main reason for choosing this flexible source of heat is the fact that each chef typically employed at least four different cooking applications on a given night. This huge flux in technique and the realization that the menu would change entirely in 8 weeks time meant that we had to design a kitchen that could evolve on a nightly basis. And last, we are very specific with temperatures; induction makes it easier for us to hold a liquid at a predetermined temperature for long periods of time without fluctuation. They operate between 85 and 500 degrees farenheit. We did a great deal of research on the different producers of induction and favored Cooktek. The fact that they are the only U.S manufacturer of commercial induction cooking equipment and located in Chicago made the decision easier. Their innovative approach to induction may prove to be even more exciting as we are already talking about new product development in the future.

fs%20single%20hob%20cooktop.jpg

3. a. The complexity of the presentations and a la minute plate-ups of the food require a great deal of surface area devoted to plating. This was one of the most critical factors in determining the basic shape of the kitchen. The size of some of today's popular plates, the amount detail in each composition, coupled with the fact that producing tasting menus vs. ala carte means sometimes large waves of same dish pick ups made it necessary for us to have over 44' of linear plating surface.

b. Virtually nothing goes vertical above the 36” counter top in the space. All food, plates, equipment, and dry good storage are contained by under counter units. There are a few exceptions such as the infrared salamanders, the three-door refrigerator, and the hood. This allows all the cooks a clear line of communication between each other and the front staff. It allows me an easy sight line to survey the entire kitchen’s progress with a quick glance.

Given these two points it seemed obvious that we needed to combine the two and create custom pieces that would fulfill both needs. Large spans of plating surfaces with all food and equipment storage below. As you can see we ended up with two 22’ long units. Each function as a pass and under counter storage.

The building is 21’ wide wall to wall. This allowed us just enough space to create two lines on each exterior wall with their passes forming a 60” corridor for the pick up of plates and finishing of dishes.

4. We decided to add a station to the kitchen. At Trio we had five including:

a. pastry

b. cold garde manger

c. hot garde manger

d. fish

e. meat

Now that we had more space, and the ability to give each station multiple heat

sources regardless of their location in the kitchen, we could spread the workload even further. We also realized it doesn’t make much sense to identify each station by classic French Bragade terms. A saucier did not solely cook meat with classic techniques and prepare various traditional stocks and sauces…in fact quite the opposite. This holds true with most of the stations, with the exception of pastry, but even they will have very unconventional techniques, menu placement and involvement in the kitchen systems. We will add a station that will be responsible for a large majority of the one-bite courses both sweet and savory.

5.Given the size constraints of the building we realized a walk-in would not be possible in the kitchen. If we were to have one it would be in the basement. Having experienced this at Trio we decided to design the kitchen without a walk-in, making up for the space in various lowboy locations and a three-door reach-in. I experienced the walk-in less environment when I worked at Charlie Trotter’s. It is certainly different, but as with most things if done properly it provides a very efficient environment. It works best in situations where fresh products are brought in daily for that days use. And prevents ordering in large quantities. It also provides us with very specific units to house different items. We will utilize the 3-door refrigerator to store the majority of the vegetables and herbs along with some staple mise en place, and items that cannot be made in very small quantities like stocks. Raw meat will have it’s own lowboys as well as fish, dairy, and all frozen products.

6. At Trio we found ourselves using the salamander a great deal. It is very useful for melting sugar, bringing on transparent qualities in things like fat and cheese, cooking items intensely on only one side, and it is a highly controllable non-direct heat source. Due to the air gap between the foodstuff and the heat elements the cook can control the degree of heat applied to the dish based on the technique he is using. It becomes a very versatile tool in the modern kitchen, so much so that we will install three Sodir infrared salamanders.

sem60.jpg

Again, this is to insure that all the cooks have access to all of the techniques in the kitchen. As I said before it is important for our cooks to be able to sauté, simmer, poach, fry, grill, salamander, and freeze at the same time and sometimes for the same dish.

We have a few unusual pieces of equipment in the kitchen; the most is probably a centrifuge. A few months ago Nick and I were driving home from a design meeting and ended up talking about signature dishes and menu repetition. Of course the black truffle explosion came up and he asked if I would have it on the menu at Alinea. I replied a firm no, but shortly thereafter said I would enjoy updating it. We threw around some tongue and cheek ideas like White Truffle Implosion, and Truffle Explosion 2005….I said it was a goal of mine to make a frozen ball with a liquid center….but then dismissed it as nearly impossible. Within a few minutes he said …”I got it…we need a centrifuge” His explanation was simple, place the desired liquid in a spherical mold and place on the centrifuge…place the whole thing in the freezer. Within days he had one in the test kitchen. I guess this is better suited for the kitchen lab topic that we will be starting in a few weeks…

We are working on a upload of the kitchen blueprints. When those post I plan on going into more detail about certian aspects of the design. Doing so now would be pointless as the viewer does not have a reference point.


--

Grant Achatz

Chef/Owner

Alinea

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

chefg,

I can feel your excitement over this. Without getting into specific costs, what percentage of the build-out budget will be spent on the kitchen?

I'm also curious about the specific benefits of the Molteni unit, relative to similar products made by other manufacturers. What differentiates it?

=R=


"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

chefg,

My first reaction was surprise at the lack of gas as a cooking fuel. I was brought up in a "it has to be gas" world. The times they are a changing.

I'm curious about exhaust hoods. It appears the only one you need is for the range set up. Are hoods required for the salamanders?

You mentioned carpet in the French Laundry's kitchen. Will you be using carpet? How does the French Laundry / will you get that past the health inspectors?

Finally, any chance of a scanned sketch of the layout to help with the overall visualization?

Thanks,


Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

Twitter

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Chefg -

I love the fact your kitchen will be induction-heavy, but what about the cookwear? Since not every pot is induction friendly, do you have a plan in place for easy identification as to what exactly can be used where? How do you hope these details will play out in your mobile kitchen?


--adoxograph

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
chefg,

I can feel your excitement over this.  Without getting into specific costs, what percentage of the build-out budget will be spent on the kitchen?

I'm also curious about the specific benefits of the Molteni unit, relative to similar products made by other manufacturers.  What differentiates it?

=R=

The kitchen will consume roughly 20% of the budget. I think it is particularly important to look at these percentages with an open mind in reference to the final product. To try and access the stature of any build-out based on the rumored costs can be very misleading.

The kitchen is the vision of the Alinea team, and made reality by the architects at Rugo/Raff. We decided to bypass a “restaurant” or “kitchen designer”. The project seemed so personal to my vision that I felt it would be most efficiently conveyed by me to the architects. I am sure I will make a few mistakes along the way that would have been caught by someone like Tim Harrison. But I am also confident that given the cuisine that we produce the Alinea kitchen certainly does not fit into any template known. I feel we are getting a 30% kitchen build out for the price of a 20% build-out due to disciplined budgeting, a lot of homework, and a dedicated design team.

As far as the Molteni stove…..that decision was based mainly on references by peers and colleagues. I have cooked on several types on stoves in my career and had the opportunity to demo a Molteni at the Food Show in Chicago this past year. After looking at several brands…Bonnet, Montague, Diva de Provence……the reputation of Molteni, in combination with the available styles and price, ultimately seemed like a perfect match.


--

Grant Achatz

Chef/Owner

Alinea

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
chefg,

My first reaction was surprise at the lack of gas as a cooking fuel.  I was brought up in a "it has to be gas" world.  The times they are a changing.

I'm curious about exhaust hoods.  It appears the only one you need is for the range set up.  Are hoods required for the salamanders?

You mentioned carpet in the French Laundry's kitchen.  Will you be using carpet?  How does the French Laundry / will you get that past the health inspectors?

Finally, any chance of a scanned sketch of the layout to help with the overall visualization?

Thanks,

Holly:

Times are changing …but very slowly. I think if you surveyed most chefs cooking today the majority would dismiss induction as a preferred heat source. Four years ago I would have been one of those chefs…and maybe with good reason….induction technology is still in its infancy, as the benefits become more known, and popularity increases the perceived short comings of this heat source will evolve and it will become the primary source for most kitchens. They are equally as strong, in some cases more (BTU’s) and have much faster recovery times. They are also highly controllable, easily moved throughout the kitchen, and give off little heat into the environment of the kitchen. All of those factors and the ones I mention up-thread make these units the most suitable for our style of cooking.

Yes, we will use the black walk-off mats in our kitchen…or an equivalent. I think the health department would favor these types of mats vs. the common rubber mats with holes, they seem to be a collector of food and what not and very difficult to clean. Keep in mind the kitchen at the FL and Alinea is impeccably clean. At Trio, where we used the carpets as well, they were vacuumed several times a day. It was very rare for a large spill to soil the mats, but if it did happen they were removed and replaced with clean back ups, the soiled set aside to be professionally cleaned.

As I mentioned up-post a scanned blueprint of the kitchen is in the works for everyone to reference.


--

Grant Achatz

Chef/Owner

Alinea

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Chefg -

I love the fact your kitchen will be induction-heavy, but what about the cookwear?  Since not every pot is induction friendly, do you have a plan in place for easy identification as to what exactly can be used where? How do you hope these details will play out in your mobile kitchen?

We will utilize mostly Sitram cookware which is quite induction friendly. Cooktek has supplied us with the results of their research on the efficiency of various brands.


--

Grant Achatz

Chef/Owner

Alinea

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thankyou Chefg. Very interesting.

Are you including water baths for sous-vide cooking?

What mixers do you plan, for example for bread dough?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Chef G.

Thanks for jumping on the topic so quickly.

As an old school, educated years ago, kind of guy; we were always taught that for higher end establishments BOH to FOH space ratios were expected to be close to 1:1. As I see from your previous posts you are better than 1:2. The economics of this are simple, more seats for diners (revenue) to fewer total square feet (expenditure). My questions, coming from a traditonal, large brigade background is this efficiency a function of the style of cuisine and service or is this more a function of the flexability that you are designing into the space.

Thanks,


Tobin

It is all about respect; for the ingredient, for the process, for each other, for the profession.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
As an old school, educated years ago, kind of guy; we were always taught that for higher end establishments BOH to FOH space ratios were expected to be close to 1:1. As I see from your previous posts you are better than 1:2. The economics of this are simple, more seats for diners (revenue) to fewer total square feet (expenditure). My questions, coming from a traditonal, large brigade background is this efficiency a function of the style of cuisine and service or is this more a function of the flexability that you are designing into the space

I will let ChefG comment on the efficiency of the kitchen. But it should be stated that the idea for the dining rooms from the very beginning was to make sure that tables had a great deal of space between them, thus ensuring a feeling of luxury for diners. There is nothing I hate more than going to a fine restaurant and then feeling like they have packed me in.

So where the gross sq. feet of FOH to BOH ratio may look like 2-1, in reality we could have squeezed the same number of tables into a smaller area and achieved the 1-1 ratio.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Chefg,

Could you possibly elaborate just a little on the make and model of the centrifuge?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

chefg,

Are the portable Cooktek units neatly stackable or is there a manufacturer designed/standard footprint rack for efficient storage?

Also, given the uniqe nature of the equipment and serviceware you will be using, are you planning on implementing any innovations in the sanitation/dishwashing departments?


----------------------------------------------

Emily in London

http://www.august18th2007.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Chefg,

Could you possibly elaborate just a little on the make and model of the centrifuge?

I am trying to find a pic online....either way I am sure you will see am image of it when the food lab topic is posted.


--

Grant Achatz

Chef/Owner

Alinea

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
chefg,

Are the portable Cooktek units neatly stackable or is there a manufacturer designed/standard footprint rack for efficient storage?

Also, given the uniqe nature of the equipment and serviceware you will be using, are you planning on implementing any innovations in the sanitation/dishwashing departments?

LBH--

The cooktek unit will stack on themselves but we have designed all undercounter storage to be very specific in storing various equipment. More on this when the scanned blueprints are available.

No. That is one of the limitations that we have willing placed upon ourselves...all service pieces created with Crucial Detail must be machine washable...all of the pieces posted thus far have been as well.


Edited by chefg (log)

--

Grant Achatz

Chef/Owner

Alinea

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We feel the creative process demands an awareness of technology,and are excited to share some of the more unusual equipment that has made its way into our kitchen.

Upon looking for thermal circulators we established a relationship with a company in Niles, IL called Polyscience. They are a large producer of laboratory equipment. The owner, Philip Preston, an avid foodie and cook in his own right, was very excited about the opportunity to combine the two disciplines. As we toured the Polyscience plant I mentioned to Philip some of the ideas I had for techniques based on intense refrigeration. Up until this point I had no way of producing the concepts I had in my head. The equipment simply did not exist. Philip was intrigued by the ideas and mentioned that the systems to produce the desired results were not impossible; in fact in his world they were quite doable.

There have been various threads on cooking at low temperatures and sous vide cooking on eGullet so I will not reiterate all of the fine points. This subject was even approached here when a member commented on the images of us cooking en sous vide with a gas-fired stove as the heat source. At the time I mentioned the use of highly controllable thermo circulators was not necessary. It is not, but it sure is nice. The units that we tested are shown below. They performed well beyond my expectations and will definately be a part of the Alinea kitchen.

gallery_21344_267_1102556203.jpg

gallery_21344_267_1102556181.jpg

One of the concepts that I mentioned to Philip was an anti-griddle. This flat surface would maintain temperatures of – 40 C. This concept started with my recollection of the “blini board” that was used every night at the French Laundry. Basically a pancake griddle that can be purchased at any department store. Our concept would be the inverse, we would create dual textures by freezing instead heating. A puree of mango would be folded with Golden Trout Roe and puddled onto the freezing surface. The intense temperature would freeze the first 1/16 of an inch within 30 seconds allowing us to flip the “blinis” and freeze the other side. The center would remain creamy.The first prototype of the anti-griddle is in production.

We hope to report on two more collaborations between Polyscience and Alinea in the near future -- and we should have a picture of the anti-griddle available by then.

Another piece of equipment that we are very excited about is a vaporizer that a friend of Alinea brought back from Germany. He had the good fortune to meet the inventor of the vaporizer and sit in on a demo. Knowing our use of controlled aromas in cuisine he immediately thought of us. Ironically we had been brainstorming on methods to control the containment and dispensing of aromas. This machine was the perfect solution for two reasons. It allowed us to use real ingredients for the aroma base as opposed to synthetic mediums, which was always important to us in the execution of the desired aroma. But more critically the aroma is contained indefinitely. Further, the ability to dispense it in a very controlled manner was finally possible. The machine allows the user to heat the ingredients from 130 C - 230 C. Plant material (cellulose) begins to burn when temperatures of 235 C or higher are achieved. This control lets us determine the best temperature for extraction without marring the aroma with burnt smell. The mediums are endless, this machine will even vaporize liquids, such as wine and even oils with amazing intensity.

gallery_21344_267_1102555920.jpg

As you can see the essence in captured in the clear bag.

gallery_21344_267_1102555966.jpg

Sous chef John Peters samples vaporized licorice

Now we can pump aroma into various things like overturned glasses, glass tubes, or pockets of food to enhance the experience. Before we were limited to producing aromas at the moment and we were never able to place aromas based off of real ingredients into different containers, allowing the guest to dispense the aroma at their will. We will go into the kitchen next week and develop various uses for the vaporizer for the opening Alinea menu.


Edited by chefg (log)

--

Grant Achatz

Chef/Owner

Alinea

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This has to be the coolest thing! I can't wait.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

for more information on ideas of the "anti-griddle" check out moveable feast dot com

refers to the adria conection placing a plancha over liquid nitrogen and "cooking" various products.

very interesting, curious about aplications


h. alexander talbot

chef and author

Levittown, PA

ideasinfood

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
for more information on ideas of the "anti-griddle" check out moveable feast dot com

refers to the adria conection placing a plancha over liquid nitrogen and "cooking" various products.

Do you have a more "specific" address, I tried what you gave in your quote, as well as googling and no luck.

Thanks


Patrick Sheerin

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

it must be challenging to simultaneously discover new applications,

i think that chefg has answered this question with regards to quality over primacy being the issue

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
for more information on ideas of the "anti-griddle" check out moveable feast dot com

refers to the adria conection placing a plancha over liquid nitrogen and "cooking" various products.

Do you have a more "specific" address, I tried what you gave in your quote, as well as googling and no luck.

Movable Feast, Diary of an Itinerant Chef

I think the relevant entries are in September.


Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Being a bench scientist and foodie, many of these ideas resonate strongly with me. In lab I've made purees, pastes and foams, reduced liquids, "cooked" things at very precise precise temperatures, separated aromatic compounds, quick-frozen "meat" and various slurries, sliced tissue 1000 times thinner than any mandoline can do, and the list goes on. Biomedical science and cooking have many things in common, and it's exciting to see someone finally "get" that.

I just saw the Polysciences post by chefg, and it's right on; after seeing more discussion about sous vide ~ 1 month ago, I immediately thought of those waterbaths as the ultimate apparatus to carry it out. They are very precise and simple to use and upkeep.

There are lots of things we do in a real biomedical lab that can be adapted to a kitchen, as chefg is finding out, and it seems he's making those adaptations. From what I know of lab techniques and equipment, there's probably a lot more to come.


Chip Wilmot

Lack of wit can be a virtue

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
Sign in to follow this  

  • Similar Content

    • By lindag
      My new house is in the early stages; it is barely framed up but I'm already dreaming of my dream kitchen.
      Yesterday I went to our one big appliance store (other than HD and Lowe's) and I think I'm going to go wild with the new units.
      First up I'm thinking of a Sub-Zero side by side.  A Thermador 30" slide-in dual fuel range, a Bosch d/w as well as a new m/w and a new hood of a type yet to be determined.  All this is really overkill since I'm by no means a big presence in the kitchen, and these expensive appliances do not define the home which is really rather modest.  But I'm figuring this is my last rodeo, if you will.
      I have heard of some folk having trouble with Sub-Zero repairs so I plan to add a warranty protection plan..
      Anyone have any negative experiences with any of these brands?\
       
      ETA: I have been reading reviews online about Sub-Zero fridges and I may have to re-think that choice.  Those reviews are not good.
      Much as I'd like to have a custom-size I'm beginning to have grave concerns about repairs.
    • By mumkin
      I am in the process of packing up my kitchen—we’re about to demo and remodel—and am sorting about 20 years of accumulated cookery bits into pack/donate/trash categories. Which led me to an article from the expert advisors at Epicurious, “The 9 Kitchen Tools You Need to Replace Every Year,” in which they advocate for an annual household purging of Microplanes, cutting boards, paring knives, dish towels and more (ideally replaced via convenient affiliate links). 
       
      Two questions (at least) arise from this:
      How much cheese and nutmeg grating does it take to dull a Microplane? I haven’t noticed a diminution in mine’s powers, and I’m pretty sure it’s at least decade old. Is there anything that you do replace annually on principle, regardless of its condition?  
      For the record, I don't think they're wrong about sponges.
       
      (Also, Hello! I’ve been away from eGullet for quite a while and am ineligible to post a Welcome Our New Members Thread, but I’m a domestic dabbler in Portland, Ore. Mostly stovetop and sous vide of late, since my ovens have been out of commission for a few years… looking forward to getting my bake on soon).
    • By WackGet
      Recently I picked up a few different types of emulsifiers in bulk powder form when I saw them in passing at a catering wholesaler.
       
      Having never used powdered emulsifiers before in cooking or baking, I figured I'd find pretty comprehensive instructions for their use on the web - but I can't.
       
      I'm not a stranger to food science but nor am I a chemist. I understand that emulsifiers are at least sometimes prepared by pre-mixing them into a (heated?) liquid or fat and then using the resulting solution in the actual recipe, which may explain why a lot of commercial emulsifier mixtures are packages as tubes of gel or paste. I've also checked several industry-level textbooks about emulsifiers and while they are fantastic for in-depth explanations of the chemistry behind each emulsifier, they do not (as you might imagine) provide guidance on how a lowly baker or cook would actually use a powdered form.
       
      So does anyone know how to prepare and use a dry powdered form of any of the following in a real recipe?
       
      Specifically I am most interested in enhancing baked goods and adding stability to sauces, but would also like to know how to use them for other processes such as sausage-making too.
      E471 Mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids E481 Sodium stearoyl lactylate E482 Calcium stearoyl lactylate E472e DATEM (diacetyl tartaric acid ester of mono- and diglycerides)
        Thanks.
    • By mjbarnard
      I cooked two turkey breasts sous vide. This year had access to the Meater+ thermometer probe which I managed to vacuum seal in the bag without difficulty (it is small). Since it works wirelessly I was able to monitor and it records the internal temperatures at the thickest part of the breast.
      I thought the results were interesting. I cooked at 60C for 8 hours. I have always used https://www.chefsteps.com/activities/a-better-way-to-turkey-cook-that-bird-sous-vide-for-the-best-feast-ever which gives long cooking times at lower temperature. I have found that as according to this page https://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2014/11/sous-vide-turkey-breast-crispy-skin-recipe-thanksgiving.html that 55C gives turkey which is just a little too pink for most tastes. Over the last few years have increased the temperature up to 59/60 and I find it perfect - very moist and tender, but pale not pink.
      See attached images. I changed my mind a couple of times and started at 58 then 60 then 59 again, so ignore the slight variations. The thing I found interesting was that the thickest part (of a large breast) reached 55C in around 1 hour 40 mins and target of 59 in 2 hours 30 mins. Now I appreciate that sous vide is a combination of temperature and time or duration, but the data make me think that around 4 hours would be sufficient, as per the seriouseats table. I have previously used the chefsteps 55-58 for their much longer advised times, up to 12 hours and the meat is still quite pink at the end, so I dont believe 55 for 12 hours would effectively be the same.
      From now on I will watching the internal temperatures with interest. This has always been the (relative) unkown for sous vide amateurs. 


    • By ronnie_suburban
      It’s the first day of cooking in Alinea's Food Lab and the mood is relaxed. We’re in a residential kitchen but there’s nothing ordinary about it. Chef Grant, along with sous chefs John Peters and Curtis Duffy are setting up. The sight of the 3 steady pros, each in their chef’s whites, working away, does not match this domestic space. Nor does the intimidating display of industrial tools lined up on the counters. While the traditional elements are here in this suburban kitchen: oven, cooktop, sink, so too are the tools of modern restaurant cookery: pacojet, cryovac machine, paint stripping heat gun…wait, a paint stripping heat gun?
      In the physical realm, the Food Lab is a tangible space where the conventional and the unconventional are melded together in the quest for new culinary territory. With Alinea’s construction under way, the team must be resourceful. This meant that renting a space large enough to house both the office and the kitchen aspects of the food lab was out of the question.
      The decision was made to take over a large office space for the research and administrative aspects of Alinea and transform a residential kitchen into the Lab. Achatz and the team would work three days per week at the office researching all aspects of gastronomy and brainstorming new dishes, while managing the project as a whole. The remaining time would be spent in the kitchen executing the ideas formulated at the office. “At first I thought separating the two would be problematic,” says Grant “but in the end we are finding it very productive. It allows us to really focus on the tasks at hand, and also immerse ourselves in the environment conducive to each discipline.” The menus for opening night—containing as many as 50 never-before-served dishes--must be conceived, designed, tested and perfected. The Alinea team does not want to fly without a net on opening night.
      On a more abstract level, the Food Lab is simply the series of processes that continually loop in the minds of Chef Grant and his team. While there is no single conduit by which prospective menus--and the dishes which comprise them--arrive at Alinea, virtually all of them start in Chef Grant's imagination and eventually take form after brainstorming sessions between the Chef and his team. Menus are charted, based on the seasonality of their respective components, and the details of each dish are then laid out on paper, computer or both and brought to the kitchen for development. In this regard, the Food Lab provides something very special to the Chef and his team. “We consider the food lab a luxury,” says Grant. Once Alinea is open and the restaurant’s daily operations are consuming up to 16 hours of each day, time for such creative planning (aka play) will be scarce. Building a library of concepts, ideas and plans for future menus now will be extraordinarily valuable in the future. Otherwise, such planning sessions will have to take place in the 17th and 18th hours of future workdays, as they did when the Chef and his team were at Trio.
      Today, several projects are planned and the Chefs dig into their preparations as soon as their equipment setup is complete…
      Poached Broccoli Stem with wild Coho roe, crispy bread, grapefruit
      Stem cooked sous vide (butter, salt, granulated cane juice)
      Machine-sliced thin bread
      Dairyless grapefruit “pudding”
      Dried Crème Brulee
      Caramel orb shell made with bubble maker and heat gun
      Powdered interior made with dried butterfat, egg yolks, powdered sugar & vanilla
      PB&J
      Peeled grapes on the stem
      Peanut butter coating
      Wrap in brioche
      Broil
      Micro-grated, roasted peanuts
      Instant Tropical Pudding
      Freeze Dried Powders of coconut, pineapple, banana
      Young coconut water spiked with rum
      Muscovado Sugar
      Cilantro
      Candied Chili
      Jamaican Peppercorn
      Vanilla Bean
      The steps required to comprise each dish are, as one might imagine, intricate and numerous. For the Poached Broccoli Stem, Chef Grant begins by separating the broccoli stems from the florets. The stems are stripped of their fibrous exteriors and pared down until they are uniform in size. Grant comments on the use of the second hand part of the vegetable: “This dish started with the roe. Every year we receive the most amazing Brook Trout Roe from Steve Stallard, my friend and owner of Blis. Typically, we serve the eggs with an element of sweetness. I find it goes very well with the ultra fresh salinity of the week-old roe. This time around we wanted to take a savory approach so I began looking into complimenting flavors in the vegetal category. About the same time, our group had a discussion about secondary parts of vegetables and the stem of broccoli came up. I had a past experience with the stem and found it to be very reminiscent of cabbage. Knowing that cabbage and caviar are essentially a classic pairing, I felt confident that we could work the dish out. Now I'm struggling to decide if this is a broccoli dish or in fact a roe dish, I think they really battle for the top position and that helps makes the dish very complex."

      Chef Grant processing the broccoli

      The stems are placed in a polyethylene bag, along with butter, salt and granulated cane juice. The bag is sealed with a cryovac machine

      The sealed stems are placed in a 170 degree F water to cook, sous vide, until extremely tender; about three hours

      Broccoli stems after cooking
      The crisp bread element is fabricated via the use of an industrial deli slicer. Chef Grant then brushes the sectioned pieces of poached broccoli stem with eggwash, affixes them to the thin planks of brioche and places them in a fry pan with butter.

      Grant's mise...not your ordinary cutting board

      Poached Broccoli Stem and Crisp Bread cooking

      Ready for plating

      A bright green broccoli puree is made with a vita-prep blender. Here, Chef Grant "mohawks" it onto china given to him by Thomas Keller

      Smoked Coho roe has arrived via Fed-Ex, courtesy of Steve Stallard

      Chef Grant devises a plating scheme for the Poached Broccoli Stem while Curtis looks on

      Chef Grant ponders one potential plating of the dish. He called this incarnation 'predictable' and started over.

      Another plating idea. This version is garnished with broccoli petals and ultra-thin slices of connected grapefruit pulp cells. The yellow petals are stand-ins for what will ultimately be broccoli blossoms
      Grant is still displeased at the dish's appearance. "The dish tastes as I envisioned it....texturally complex, with the crispness of the bread, the soft elements of the floret puree and stem, and the pop of the eggs. The buttery richness from the bread gives the stem the flavor of the melted cabbage I loved at the [French] Laundry. And the hot and cold contrasts from the roe and broccoli …I like it…..I just don’t like the way it looks.” Another attempt and the group agrees, it is better but not “the one.” The use of the thinly sliced cross sections of peeled grapefruit energizes the group. In the next rendition, they make small packets with the ultra thinly-sliced grapefruit containing the roe...

      A third plating configuration for Poached Broccoli Stems; this one featuring the packets of roe wrapped in ultra thin sheets of grapefruit pulp cells
      At this point the team decides to move on and come back to it next week. After some conversation they decide that in the final dish, broccoli will appear in at least 5 forms: poached stems, floret puree, some raw form of the stem, the tiny individual sprouts of broccoli florets, and the blooms. Grant feels that Poached Broccoli Stem could be ready for service, although he still envisions some changes for the dish that will make it even more emblematic of his personal style. “Our dishes continue to evolve after they hit the menu. It is important for us to get to know them better before we can clearly see their weaknesses.”
      The thought for the dried crème brulee originated over a year ago when a regular customer jokingly asked for a crème brulee for dessert. “He said it as joke, I took it as a challenge,” says Grant. "Of course, we never intended to give him a regular crème brulee.” The team tried various techniques to create the powder-filled caramel bubble while at Trio to no avail. An acceptable filling for the Dried Crème Brulee has been developed by the Chef and his team but several different methods, attempted today, to create the orb from caramelized sugar have been less than 100% successful.

      Caramel blob awaiting formation. Chef Curtis kept this pliable by leaving it in a low oven throughout the day

      Chef Grant’s initial idea to use a metal bubble ring and heat gun (normally used for stripping paint) to form the bubbles does not work as hoped. Attempts to fashion them by hand also come up short.
      Says Grant, “At Trio we tried a hair-dryer. When Martin told me about these heat guns which get up to 900 degrees F, I thought we had it for sure. If it was easy everyone would do it I guess.” Eventually, Alinea partner Nick Kokonas garners the task’s best result by positioning a small, warm blob of sugar onto the end of a drinking straw and blowing into the other end. The results are promising. Curtis suggests using a sugar pump to inflate the orbs. That adjustment will be attempted on another day.
      “We intentionally position whimsical bite in the amuse slot, it tends to break the ice and make people laugh. It is a deliberate attempt to craft the experience by positioning the courses in a very pre-meditated order. A great deal of thought goes into the order of the courses, a misalignment may really take away from the meal as a whole.” For PB&J, the grapes are peeled while still on the vine and then dipped into unsweetened peanut butter. They are allowed to set–up, and then they are wrapped with a thin sheet of bread and lightly toasted. When the peeled grapes warm, they become so soft they mimic jelly. The composition is strangely unfamiliar in appearance but instantly reminiscent on the palate. PB&J is, according to Grant, virtually ready for service. There are a couple of aesthetic elements, which need minor tweaks but the Chef feels very good about today’s prototype.

      Chef John peels grapes while still on their stems

      Peeled grapes on their stems with peanut butter coating

      Chef Grant studies the completed PB&J in the Crucial Detail designed piece

      PB&J
      Often, creative impulses come by way of Alinea’s special purveyors. “Terra Spice’s support over the past couple of years has been unprecedented, and it has accelerated with the start of the food lab,” says Grant. “It is great to have relationships with people that think like we do, it can make the creative process so much easier. Often Phil, our contact at Terra, would come into the kitchen at Trio and encourage us to try and stump him on obscure ingredients. We always lost, but not from lack of trying. He even brought in two live chufa plants into the kitchen one day.” The relationship has developed and Terra team has really made an effort to not only search out products that the chefs ask for but also keep an eye out for new ingredients and innovations. In August, Phil brought by some samples of products that he thought the Alinea team might be interested in trying.

      Phil of Terra Spice showing the team some samples

      Coconut powder and other samples
      Grant recalls “the most surprising item to me was the dried coconut powder. When I put a spoonful in my mouth I could not believe the intense flavor and instant creamy texture, it was awesome.” That was the inspiration for what is now Instant Tropical Pudding. The guest is presented with a glass filled with dried ingredients. A member of the service team pours a measured amount of coconut water into the glass and instructs the guest to stir the pudding until a creamy consistency is formed.

      The rum-spiked coconut water being added to the powders
      At the end of the day, the Chefs assess their overall effort as having gone “fairly well.” It’s a mixed bag of results. Clearly, the fact that things have not gone perfectly on Day 1 has not dampened anyone’s spirits. The team has purposely attempted dishes of varying degrees of difficultly in order to maximize their productivity. Says Grant, “Making a bubble of caramel filled with powder…I have devoted the better part of fifteen years to this craft, I have trained with the best chefs alive. I have a good grasp of known technique. The lab's purpose is to create technique based on our vision. Sometimes we will succeed, and sometimes we will fail, but trying is what make us who we are." The team's measured evaluations of their day’s work reflect that philosophy.
      According to Chef Grant, “The purpose of the lab is to create the un-creatable. I know the level at which we can cook. I know the level of technique we already possess. What I am interested in is what we don't know...making a daydream reality.” With little more than 100 days on the calendar between now and Alinea’s opening, the Chef and his team will have their work cut out for them.
      =R=
      A special thanks to eGullet member yellow truffle, who contributed greatly to this piece
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...