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thebartrainer

Molecular Cocktails

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I have been reading with interest about Heston Blumenthal's adventures in the field of Molecular Gastronamy.

It seems fascinating that all types of ingredients are compatable even though they may seem to have absolutely no 'traditional' links. The use of garnish to embelish a drink, even though the scent provided is not present in the drink, is not a new idea (Mai Tai's & Sprigs of mint come to mind). But has anyone taken it to its logical conclusion and placed all of the modifying agents to a base spirit in the garnish? I heard of a mintless Julep which had a veritable forest of sprigs as a garnish for example.

The other part of the top class molecular gastronomics which intregues me is the apparent depth of scientific analysis that goes into the creation of dishes. Is this information easily accessed or do you have to have a friendly molecular biologist handy?

Could Molecular Mixology be a success?

Cheers

Ian


Vist Barbore to see the Scottish scene.

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Is this "molecular gastromy" a book, or an article?

Anyway, do you mean like having a Margarita made without orange liqueur, then squeezing a fat twist of orange peel over the drink, to add the orange zest element?

I hope I am getting this idea correctly.

Or using flavoured vodkas, then omitting the relevent other flavour? cranberry-vodka with grapefruit being a Seabreeze, instead of/ as well as a traditional vodka/ cranberry/ grapefruit mix?

I have never been a fan of putting triple sec/ orange liqueur into a strawberry margarita. So maybe simply adding an orange twist at the end, as a garnish, would be "molecular"?

George :blink:

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Is this "molecular gastromy" a book, or an article?

Anyway, do you mean like having a Margarita made without orange liqueur, then squeezing a fat twist of orange peel over the drink, to add the orange zest element?

I hope I am getting this idea correctly.

Exactly... however when you read the articles on the concept of Molecular Gastronomy the examples quoted are a bit more off the wall.

For example; Snails in white chocolate, egg and bacon ice cream on french toast with jam (can't remembaer what type!!) and pipe tobacco infused chocolate. :wacko:

These range from interesting to down right silly sounding but the guy (Heston Blumenthal) has 3 Michelin stars so there must be something in it!!

A group of us recently got invited to a preview of a new vodka flavour and were given a bar with all the usual ingredients to play with. I found some cheese in the fridge and tried to incorperate it on the basis of the creamy vs. the berry flavours of the spirit. It was disgusting in a way in which I had never thought imaginable, but the idea was not necessarily a bad one.

There are a few sites that can explain this concept better than I can if you do a search. Not seen any books but I'm sure that one exists.

Cheers


Vist Barbore to see the Scottish scene.

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For a little background on "Molecular Gastronomy" you can refer to this: http://www.worldwidewords.org/turnsofphrase/tp-mol4.htm and for a little more reading, you can refer to this article http://www.csmonitor.com/2004/0218/p11s02-lifo.html

In short, it is about looking at food preparation from a scientific angle. Somewhat similar to the "Food Scientist" approach of Harold McGee ("On Food And Cooking", "The Curious Cook") and Alton Brown ("Good Eats" on the Food Network), but perhaps taking things even a little further. One aspect of testing the boundaries, is what Heston Blumenthal does at his Fat Duck restaurant, and pairing foods together because "chemically" they have an affinity for one another, even though on the face of it they might not sound terribly appetizing. Caviar and White Chocolate apparently is one of the more noteable examples, although I have not yet tried this out myself.

So I read into this sort of two different methods of thinking. One is to question "traditional" methods and wonder what the scientific rationale is behind it, the other is to challenge convention, and discover new ways of doing things.

For example: Cocktails are traditionally served in a conical glass... is that really the best shape to use?

and: Would a garnish of a cube of medium-rare steak work better then an olive in a Martini?

(not that I have an answer to either of the above questions :-)

To return back to part of the initial question/observation and something like a Mint Julep...

Assuming that part of the intent with a Mint Julep is to impress a mint flavor to it... what is actually the best way to do this and get the best possible flavor result? Do you use just the mint leaves, muddling them hard into a little sugar syrup, and then add the ingredients... or do you use the mint, stems and all, and not muddle them at all, instead simply shaking everything together? Or perhaps there is a chemical compound in the mint that can't help but turn slightly bitter when combined with whiskey, and therefore the best way to get the mint "essence" without the bitterness is to festoon the top of the glass with a "veritable forest of sprigs"... That, would be Molecular Mixology.

While we are also on the topic of flavor combinations, I might take a moment to recommend "Culinary Artistry" by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page. Nothing really Mixology related about it, but I think it is a facinating look into cuisine, flavor pairings, and insights into how a number of renowned chefs "think" about the cuisine they create. Conceptually there is some cross-over into Mixology as well.

-Robert

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Fascinating stuff isn't it...

After reading the suggested sites (thank you Robert :smile: ) I'm starting to think that the specifics of the production process could fundamentally affect the end result. I'm not talking about the obvious shaken or stirred choices but of more scientific options.

A tasting plate of 6 glasses each with the same (for the sake of arguement) Malt Whisky in them. The only difference between them would be that the liquids were heated or chilled to different temperatures in order to release different specific aromas. You could present a small piece of food beside each glass to be eaten before or after the drink which would also compliment the specific aroma released.

Unfortunately you would either have to have the most amazing palate or a friend with a laboratory in order to pull it off. Back to the original post but does anyone know if there is an independent source of this type of information?

Reidle already do specific glasses for all grape varieties on the premise that the way in which the liquid hits your mouth is fundamental to the taste (aroma release) you experience. Don't think they have done a cocktail glass yet...

Cheers

Ian


Vist Barbore to see the Scottish scene.

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For a little background on "Molecular Gastronomy" you can refer to this: http://www.worldwidewords.org/turnsofphrase/tp-mol4.htm and for a little more reading, you can refer to this article http://www.csmonitor.com/2004/0218/p11s02-lifo.html

In short, it is about looking at food preparation from a scientific angle. Somewhat similar to the "Food Scientist" approach of Harold McGee ("On Food And Cooking", "The Curious Cook") and Alton Brown ("Good Eats" on the Food Network), but perhaps taking things even a little further. One aspect of testing the boundaries, is what Heston Blumenthal does at his Fat Duck restaurant, and pairing foods together because "chemically" they have an affinity for one another, even though on the face of it they might not sound terribly appetizing. Caviar and White Chocolate apparently is one of the more noteable examples, although I have not yet tried this out myself.

So I read into this sort of two different methods of thinking. One is to question "traditional" methods and wonder what the scientific rationale is behind it, the other is to challenge convention, and discover new ways of doing things.

For example: Cocktails are traditionally served in a conical glass... is that really the best shape to use?

and: Would a garnish of a cube of medium-rare steak work better then an olive in a Martini?

(not that I have an answer to either of the above questions :-)

To return back to part of the initial question/observation and something like a Mint Julep...

Assuming that part of the intent with a Mint Julep is to impress a mint flavor to it... what is actually the best way to do this and get the best possible flavor result? Do you use just the mint leaves, muddling them hard into a little sugar syrup, and then add the ingredients... or do you use the mint, stems and all, and not muddle them at all, instead simply shaking everything together? Or perhaps there is a chemical compound in the mint that can't help but turn slightly bitter when combined with whiskey, and therefore the best way to get the mint "essence" without the bitterness is to festoon the top of the glass with a "veritable forest of sprigs"... That, would be Molecular Mixology.

-Robert

This might be a good time to note that Harold McGee is coming out with a vastly revised edition of (two thirds larger, we more subjects and subject matter) of On Food and Cooking and will doing an eGullet Q&A starting November 8. That might be the time and place to ask some of your questions.

Harold is one of the pioneers of the Molecular Gastronomy movement and an active participant in its workshops along with Heston Blumenthal, Hervé This and the others. We'll have more information posted about him soon. Much of what Molecular Gastronomy is about, is understanding the scientific principles behind what happens when you cook and eat. With a greater understanding of the science behind cooking and tasting (cooking can be the preparation of raw foods and the mixing of cold liquids for these purposes) you have more knowledge than just tradition to use when creating.


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Very interesting idea, Ian.

Another thought on your temperature thought: You could do a flight of three 1 ounce portions of tequilla-cointreau-lime, one room temp, one shaken & "up" and one frozen & slushy.


--

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Reidle already do specific glasses for all grape varieties on the premise that the way in which the liquid hits your mouth is fundamental to the taste (aroma release) you experience.  Don't think they have done a cocktail glass yet...

Actually, Riedel does make a cocktail glass, which looks like a pretty traditional one. Unsurprising, after all, when one considers the variety of cocktails one could put in such a glass -- how do you make a glass that's a match for such disparate beverages as a manhattan or a martini (to name but two) -- so why mess with tradition?

One of the other fairly recent (i.e. the past couple years) glasses they developed was a scotch glass, which sort of looks like a shorter, stouter Irish Coffee mug without the handle and with a wider flare to the lip. I think it works quite well with all manner of whiskeys.

All that said, I have a fair degree of skepticism about the vast array of choices in wine glasses they offer. I'd hoped on a recent trip to Salzburg to spend some quality time in the Riedel wine bar in the heart of the city -- they had a substantial list of wines by the glass, and presumably served each in it's "most appropriate" glassware -- but the lousy service and atmosphere had me out the door after one glass. And so, I continue to be a skeptic, but do very much appreciate the two styles of wine glass I have -- a "bordeaux" and a "sauvignon blanc".

I realize this is all fairly tangential to the topic at hand, but still relevant in its way.... Are there other more learned palates with light to shed on their own Riedel experiences?

Christopher

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Fascinating stuff isn't it...

After reading the suggested sites (thank you Robert :smile: ) I'm starting to think that the specifics of the production process could fundamentally affect the end result.  I'm not talking about the obvious shaken or stirred choices but of more scientific options.

A tasting plate of 6 glasses each with the same (for the sake of arguement) Malt Whisky in them.  The only difference between them would be that the liquids were heated or chilled to different temperatures in order to release different specific aromas.  You could present a small piece of food beside each glass to be eaten before or after the drink which would also compliment the specific aroma released.

I wouldn't discount the effect of the small piece of food. A simillar experiment could be made with the same whisky at the same temperature served just after different small bites of food. Then there's the experiment of the same food food served in small bites after each of several different spirits, or even after each of several different malt whiskies.

Granted that no two bottles of wine are exactly the same, but I've had wildly different opinions of the same wine after having it with two very different foods. I suspect the food is the reason.


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Could there be other methods to add to the list of, shaken, stirred etc...

"How would you like your Martini"

"Plymouth gin, slightly wet, flash chilled with nitrogen please"

Could thermometers and spectrometers be the next pieces of must have bar kit?

Cheers

Ian


Vist Barbore to see the Scottish scene.

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One of the other fairly recent (i.e. the past couple years) glasses they developed was a scotch glass, which sort of looks like a shorter, stouter Irish Coffee mug without the handle and with a wider flare to the lip. I think it works quite well with all manner of whiskeys.

The Riedel Single Malt Glass is a lovely vessel. It does seem to concentrate the spirit right onto the mid-section of one's tongue when sipping. I purchased a pair of these and a very nice bottle of Woodford Reserve bourbon for a friend's 40th birthday gift. He really loves them.


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Just a note to say that a restaurant-within-a-restaurant in Washington, DC -- the Minibar at Cafe Atlantico -- is run by a protege of El Bulli's chef, and provides a window into the world of molecular gastronomy. Part of the menu is a mojito served in a tiny spray bottle, sprayed directly into the mouth. I believe there are a couple of other cocktail-esque menu items. See the extensive discussion of Minibar on the DC-DelMarVa board.


Save Pale Male <--- GO HERE!

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Admin: threads merged.

Two Parts Vodka, a Twist of Science

AT David Burke's Primehouse, a weeks-old steakhouse in Chicago, the house vodka martini is garnished with a lollipop — a lollipop made from "reduced olive brine, olive flavoring and salt crystallized in isomalt" that is stuffed with blue cheese, according to its creator, Eben Klemm. The restaurant's house manhattan is made with leather-infused bourbon, sweet vermouth and a bitters-spiked maraschino purée, dropped into the drink as a liquid that coalesces into a "gumdrop" when it hits the side of the glass.

...

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/10/dining/1...=rssnyt&emc=rss

I've had the two minibar cocktails mentioned in the article, both are outstanding. Unfortunately I did a wine pairing at Moto--sounds like cocktails were a better bet.

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Very cool! :cool:

Not sure how that would work in a really busy commercial context, but the idea is quite intriguing. I might need to ask chef friends how to pull that off. :hmmm:


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Very cool!  :cool:

Not sure how that would work in a really busy commercial context, but the idea is quite intriguing.  I might need to ask chef friends how to pull that off.  :hmmm:

As stated in the article, foams are easy. Keep a charged whipped cream canister filled with the proper ingredients, top off drinks as necessary. The "paper" at WD-50 is floated on top of the liquid ingredients. There's a lot of prep work involved, but then the preparations can be kept at the ready.

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Interesting article in today's NY Times about molecular mixology by Peter Meehan, entitled "Two Parts Vodka, a Twist of Science"

As usual, Dave Wondrich had something interesting and illuminating to say:

When I brought up the topic of these contemporary cocktails with David Wondrich, who writes about drinking for Esquire, he noted that practical — if not precisely molecular or scientific — knowledge of how the ingredients behind a bar interact was once part of the bartender's stock and trade.

A talented bartender would have a handle on the specific gravities of different liquors so he could layer them one on top of another to make a rainbow-striped pousse-café, or would know when to add a spoonful of superfine sugar while mixing a tall drink to really get the drink to fizz.

Mr. Wondrich is skeptically optimistic about the new trend. "Look, if we keep making the same five drinks over and over and putting a "tini" suffix on them, we're not going to get any new deliciousness out of the process," he said. "But I think it needs time to filter into what is doable, what is satisfying and what is just for show."

The article highlights the work of several mixologists who are puching the envelope. Eben Klemm has designed a Manhattan made with leather-infused bourbon and a puréed maraschino and bitters "cherry," and a vodka Martini with an olive essence lollipop garnish, both for Primehouse in Chicago. Eben Freeman, formerly of wd-50, created many unique takes on the cocktail there, including things like "rum and Coke" made of rum powder and soda-flavored Pop Rocks -- he'll be doing gelled spheres of Cape Codder at tonight's Taste of the Nation event. Homaro Cantu of Moto, José Andrés of Minibar and, of course, Ferran Adrià are all doing interesting things.

Unsurprisingly, I fond myself in Dave's camp. Some of these things sound interesting and there are clearly some ideas to explore there. Already certain techniques, such as foams, have filtered down to some level of commonality. But it's not entirely clear to me how far the cocktail can be to transmuted and reinterpreted before it starts to lose it's "cocktail-ness." That said, some of the stuff sounds pretty cool. Homaro Cantu is doing a drink called a "Fizzing & Foaming Hurricane" injected with a substance that provides the effects described in its name. Sounds pretty cool. I'm not sure I think a Hurricane is such an interesting cocktail to be expending that kind of effort on, though, and I often find it to be the case that the cocktails chefs try to "molecularize" are not particularly interesting ones to start with.


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Unsurprisingly, I fond myself in Dave's camp.  Some of these things sound interesting and there are clearly some ideas to explore there.  Already certain techniques, such as foams, have filtered down to some level of commonality.  But it's not entirely clear to me how far the cocktail can be to transmuted and reinterpreted before it starts to lose it's "cocktail-ness."  That said, some of the stuff sounds pretty cool.  Homaro Cantu is doing a drink called a "Fizzing & Foaming Hurricane" injected with a substance that provides the effects described in its name.  Sounds pretty cool.  I'm not sure I think a Hurricane is such an interesting cocktail to be expending that kind of effort on, though, and I often find it to be the case that the cocktails chefs try to "molecularize" are not particularly interesting ones to start with.

I see molecular mixology as a pretty good thing: using modern technology (it's much more technology than science, by the way) to play with texture, temperature, and presentation. It's the natural extension of adding an egg white to a drink to give it body.

I'm also interested in "deconstructing" classic cocktails (or adding new garnishes that nonetheless fit the mythology of a classic perfectly (leather-infused bourbon sounds brilliant, although I haven't tasted any)). Maybe serve a martini that's a glass of gin with an assortment of fresh herbs found in vermouth filling the glass? A foam Ramos Gin Fizz? The mixologist can almost force the drinker to think about the cocktail, rather than just consuming it.

Of course we'll also be faced with a foamed daquiri from TGIF's, but it's a small price to pay.

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Of course we'll also be faced with a foamed daquiri from TGIF's, but it's a small price to pay.

Like any bad example of food or drink, just because it exists doesn't mean we have to partake in it.

I'm more afraid of chemicals of all sorts being let loose into the hands of the untrained and fearless. Lord only knows what havoc could ensue from that. Remember, these are the same people that came up with the really bad drinks without the chemicals to make them gel, fizz, smoke, foam up, etc.


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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I've been asked to represent the future era of cocktails in a '200th aniversery of the cocktail' event in the UK. There are several teams representing notable eras in cocktail history (Tiki, Prohibition... etc...) and I have had to come up with two futuristic drinks.

The challenge was really to come up with a couple of interesting ideas that could be cranked out at good speed as we are being asked to make 300 drinks in 30 minutes (3 of us!).

Being a lover of all things Molecular I have decided to be as off the wall as possible. Given that the general public has not really heard of Molecular Gastronomy, I figured using two of the best known cocktails, and messing with them a bit, was the best approach.

I have decided on:

#1 A Bloody mary consisting of a semi frozen layer (churned in an ice cream maker until liquid sorbet consistency) and a hot foam layer, garnished with worcester and tabasco merangue shards. This was going to be a shot glass with frozen vodka at the bottom, room temperature clear tomato juice in the middle and hot foam on the top but the clear tomato juice has proven hard to source.

#2 A trio of cosmos... A martini glass of warm water with a garnish of three gel cubes of Citron Vodka Cosmo, Kurrant Vodka Cosmo and Apeach Vodka Cosmo (three guesses who the sponsors are!!) on a cocktail stick. We are going to have to issue instructions El Bulli style as the idea is to pop a cube in the mouth followed by a sip of warm water to melt the jelly.

I have no idea how these will turn out and whether or not they will be accepted by the guests as valid, quaffable drinks but what the hell.

The event is on the 17th so any advice/comments would be welcome. It is meant to be a competition of sorts so any bright ideas may win me a trip to France!!

Cheers

Ian


Vist Barbore to see the Scottish scene.

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[...]

This was going to be a shot glass with frozen vodka at the bottom, room temperature clear tomato juice in the middle and hot foam on the top but the clear tomato juice has proven hard to source.

[...]

It's just as well. According to the Food and Wine Magazine's "Cocktails 2006", Tomato Water is totally 2005.

:raz:

Cheers, sounds fun! Good luck.

PS. The coolest and most effective way I've seen to freeze high proof sorbet is to use liquid nitrogen.


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Thank goodness I shelved that idea... How embarrassing would that have been!!

When I went back to the forum index having posted my ideas I saw the Jello Shots thread and had a bit of a crisis of confidence in the #2 idea aswell.

Never mind...

Where can one buy liquid nitrogen? I'm in Scotland so specific retailers are not going to be an option but types of suppliers would be a help if anyone knows.

Cheers

Ian


Edited by thebartrainer (log)

Vist Barbore to see the Scottish scene.

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Interesting article in today's NY Times about molecular mixology by Peter Meehan, entitled "Two Parts Vodka, a Twist of Science"

As usual, Dave Wondrich had something interesting and illuminating to say. . .

I prefer Wylie's quote...

"It's my job to cook," he said. "It's your job to come up with names for it."

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I took my mom out to mother's day brunch (with my brother who lent me Duffy, if you're following that thread) at Cafe Atlantico and we had the margarita with lime air (mentioned in the NYTimes article) and a cotton-candy mojito. The mojito was purely for effect (pour the liquid over cotton candy for the sweetness--it dissolved immediately), but the lime air had salt and lime zest in it, and it transformed the drink. Really nice.

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      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.

      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.

      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.

      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.
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