Future of Taste: The Motion Picture Experience

October's Future of Taste event with Chef Maxime Bilet brought cutting-edge culinary techniques to diners at Ginny's Supper Club. Along with the Delicious Science demonstration—teaching local schoolchildren—and its ensuing video, we now present the final installment in our Modernist Cuisine series.

Future of Taste from Marcus Samuelsson on Vimeo.

The night's menu was wild—bridging liquid nitrogen and sous-vide cookery with Chef Samuelsson soul-inspired food. We've already outlined the experience of the dinner, but now we can all get an exclusive look into the kitchen that night. See how Ginny's cooks used liquid nitrogen to shuck oysters and create "dippin' dots" ice cream. On the other end of the heat spectrum, Chef Maxime cooked steak in a hot water bath, and then blow-torched the exterior for that tempting Maillard reaction.

For more behind-the-scenes images, click through the slideshow below:


Camera: Joseph Hernandez

Photos: Monika Sziladi, Jeannette Park

Editor: Joel Kahn

Music: Krackatoa Small Radio

Notes from LinkedIn: Delicious Science

From my first bite at The Cooking Lab in Seattle, I knew I was tasting the future of food. The brainchild of Nathan Myhrvold, former Chief Technology Officer at Microsoft and current CEO at Intellectual Ventures, the Lab brings together world-class scientists and chefs to explore the science underlying everything that we eat. Their findings are not only pushing the boundaries of our understandings of food but also bring out some of the purest and most intense flavors already present in the simplest of ingredients. From vegetable soups run through centrifuges that contain no uneccessary fat for flavor to the perfectly cooked hamburger (hint: it involves liquid nitrogen), the findings of this lab are revolutionizing the possibilities of cooking and eating.

This past week I had another opportunity to taste this delicious science and was honored to welcome Chef Maxime Bilet into my Harlem Kitchens. Co-author of the Cooking Lab's James Beard Award Winning Cookbook Modernist Cuisine, Bilet demonstrated the new levels of flavor and intricacy these techniques can bring to food. While our dinner event blew everyone away with its reinvention of classic comfort foods (more aerated scrambled eggs please!), I saw the real power of these ideas at a cooking demonstration we hosted for a group of children from the nearby Harlem Children's Storefront school. Equipped with gadgets, goggles, and a dewar of liquid nitrogen, Bilet showed us all how a scientific understanding of cooking can improve the wholesomeness of foods without compromising any of the taste. In preparing macaroni and cheese, the Chef demonstrated that simply adding a pinch of sodium citrate, a common salt compound, to any high quality cheese can give it the creaminess of popular processed varieties; preparing the dessert course of apple pie ice cream, Bilet emphasized that the same smooth texture of a store bought variety can be reproduced with minimal fat simply by freezing the ingredients with liquid nitrogen. These are only a few of the multitude of insights a science of cooking has to offer.

Although I consider cooking one of the highest of artforms, each recipe really is an experiment unto itself, refined and renewed with trial and error, trial and error. While an intensive technology of food might initally seem far off or or intimidating, associated with the haute cuisine of visionaries like Ferran Adria and showcased in the widely publicized "Science and Cooking" course, a rigorous view of food has been applied for decades by the likes of Chris Kimball and his team at America's Test Kitchen. Modernist Cuisine is something that bridges that gap, applying cutting edge science for the at-home cook. As Maxime himself stated, "in Modernist Cuisine I wanted to codify it and to give people access to a set of formulas that give them the confidence; that they know that there is a recipe there that they can follow and from there they can experiment." We may not all have all the same immersion blenders and rotary evaporators at our disposal, but the knowledge this kind of innovation produces is something we can all use.

What I took away from these experiences is that the conscientious application of a little science to the art of cooking can improve how we all eat. We just need to foster more collaboration and a greater willingness to experiment with the tools we have at our disposal. Although resistance to these ideas about cooking may be greater in my generation, I am not worried about the next group of chefs and eaters. While the kids filed into our cooking demonstration quietly, they could hardly reign in their enthusiasm by the time the event was over, leaving genuinely excited about food, about cooking, about science. (Watching vegetables frozen in liquid nitrogen get smashed on my restaurant floor probably didn't hurt either.) When I asked one what he wanted to be when he grew up, he replied, “I want to be a chef! No, a scientist! No, a physicist!” Thanks to the future Modernist Cuisine heralds, he can probably be both.


Delicious Science: Watch and Learn

When about 20 students from The Children's Storefront arrived at Ginny's Supper Club, they probably didn't expect a field trip quite like this.

In conjunction with Ginny's Future of Taste event (featuring Maxime Bilet of Modernist Cuisine), the students got a window into the world of science and cooking, and now that experience is presented in a video, for all to enjoy. With a few simple ingredients (and few not-so-simple ones), Chef Maxime shows how to carbonate grapes, make mac + cheese with virtually any dairy delight, and instantly freeze apple pie ice cream. Check out the video above, and take a look at some of the other things we've had to say about the marriage of chemistry and gastronomy.

Camera: Joel Kahn

Editor: Joel Kahn

Music: Anitek Small Radio Son Electronique

For more videos, check out these favorites:

American Table Opening Party Ginny's & Juice: The Classic Daquiri Noodlevision: A Look Inside Sun Noodles

Behind-the-Scenes: "Future of Taste" with Chef Maxime Bilet

Last night was the culmination of five days of preparation with Chef Maxime Bilet, co-author of Modernist Cuisine. At the "Future of Taste," Chefs Marcus Samuelsson and Maxime combined their efforts to create a stunning menu that not only considered Marcus' diverse worldview and love of narrative but also Maxime's dynamic embrace of forward-thinking techniques. The marriage of science and food culminated in a six-course meal, from a reinterpretation of classic Chicken and Waffle to a playful take on Red Velvet Cake. While the plating was polished and impeccable, the back of house at Rooster was bustling with kinetic energy and excitement. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, we've put together this behind-the-scenes look at the work and minutiae that went into producing the event's menu. Stay tuned for more coverage and images from Maxime's kitchen takeover.


Children's Storefront and Maxime Bilet: Learning about Modernist Cooking

Last week, Marcus Samuelsson hosted Chef Maxime Bilet, co-author of Modernist Cuisine, at Ginny’s Supper Club, along with 20 students from Children’s Storefront in Harlem. A non-profit, tuition-free school committed to providing students from preschool to eighth grade a diverse and empowering education, Children's Storefront brought a mix of seventh and eighth grade students to learn about the restaurant industry from Marcus, and easy, modern cooking techniques from Maxime. Marcus gave the students a behind the scenes look of Red Rooster, and even a short primer on restaurant etiquette. For the rest of the afternoon, Maxime put on a demo marrying science and food.

Showcasing his creative brand of delicious science, Maxime drew connections between chemistry and the process of creating food. Though he studied literature in school, Maxime has been a chef for seven years. Before co-authoring what has become the book for modern cooking for at home cooks, he always thought of creativity and science as mutually exclusive. Now immersed in the world of food, Maxime took time to walk the students through several demonstrations, all the while sampling the foods themselves, prepared by Chef Max and the Red Rooster’s kitchen.

Keeping things light, Maxime enlisted a few of the kids as his sous chefs. On the science-driven menu were carbonated grapes, “modern” mac and cheese, apple pie ice cream (made with liquid nitrogen) and “Pop Rocks” chocolate. Mixed grapes and apple cider were infused with carbon dioxide in whipping siphons, resulting in fizzy grapes and carbonated cider, which was “better than soda.” As Maxime explained the science behind emulsion, he helped his sous chefs melt cheese down with sodium citrate, or sour salt, to create a creamy cheese sauce without the oiliness inherent in mac and cheese.

Things took a turn for the exciting when Maxime pulled out a Dewar of liquid nitrogen. Donning safety goggles and imploring the students to keep clear, Maxime poured some liquid nitrogen into a bowl as its mists filled the room. Taking pieces of his “vegetable still-life”--beets, a bit of romanesco cauliflower--Maxime submerged them into the bowl while explaining the extreme dangers of a professional kitchen: frying oil and liquid nitrogen, at least in the more lab-like kitchens. After a minute or two, he took out the frozen veggies and smashed them to the ground.

Putting the liquid nitrogen to more productive use, Maxime whipped up apple pie ice cream with cider, cream, vanilla and cinnamon in a standing mixer, all while pouring mist and cold liquid from the Dewar. Within a few rotations of the mixer’s paddle attachment, ice cream was made. Suffice to say, it was it delicious.

Before capping off the event with questions from the gathered students, “Pop Rocks” chocolate came out of Red Rooster’s kitchens. Though produced by science and baking techniques, the playful chocolate bars seemed formed of magic. With a mouthful of the popping, noisy chocolate and a book of the day's recipes underarm, the eager students seemed ready to take home some of the new techniques they were introduced to. As he posed between Marcus and Maxime for a photo, one of Maxime's sous chefs, Gregorio, could be heard saying, "I want to be a chef! No, a scientist! No, a physicist!"

Photos by Joel Kahn and Joseph Hernandez