Of course we like to have some fun during an event like this! Shows like StarChefs are the perfect moment to play with our own culinary technology, try out things that we haven’t done yet or come up with new ideas. Most time it happens when curious chefs walk up to us and say ask: “What happens if…?” We then mostly say: “Let’s try it out right now and see!”
So here is a quick write up of the many crazy or interesting ideas that stuck with us. Some are just silly, but we were curious to see what would happen. Others are very relevant and some may actually be realized with some refining.
Rapid Ageing: The Sonicprep makes it possible to substitute traditional wood-barrel aging by infusing liquids with barrel wood chips. So far good results have been produced with sauces (fish sauce, soy sauce, and Worcestershire sauce) or Calvados, cider or wines. Pretty out there is the idea of barrel aging the Modernist Cuisine Rare Beef Jus using the SonicPrep.
Infusion of fresh herbs into finished soup: Instead of cooking herbs with the soup, simply use ultrasonic sound waves to infuse the aroma before serving to impart cleaner and brighter uncooked flavors.
Liquor Infusion: We showed how to infuse vodka with citrus peels in 90 seconds. The potential to infuse on-demand or larger batches as mise en place very quickly seems to be quite appealing to many mixologists and chefs. To produce a great mint flavor in a mojito, we infused fresh mint into rum before continuing with the traditional method. The Sonicprep would not work for mixing the lime into the cocktail. Using Fresh Origins edible micro flowers for infusion didn’t result in a pleasant flavor.
Hybrid Creams: As part of their pre-StarChef’s ICC workshop research, Alex and Aki created a watermelon/bacon fat creme that they used to cook halibut sous vide in. Alvin Schultz brought up the idea of playing with new versions of “gravy” by homogenizing chicken jus and rendered chicken or making the Modernist Cuisine liquid Caprese (tomato water, and mozzarella cream).
Hydrocolloid Emulsions: This is still an open question: What happens when blending Olive Oil and Gelatin solution to potentially yield a simple olive oil gummy?
Ultrasonic French Fries: Another open experiment: Sonicate cut potato in water, then fry. How would these compare to the Modernist Cuisine fries and cryo-blanched fries.
Degassing beverages: We know already that wine benefits from degassing with the Sonicprep. This time we tried beer. The result wasn’t anything that makes us want to repeat it. But tap water actually was surprisingly more smooth. Throwing in a couple wood chips made it even sweeter. At the end it may have been able to compete with some bottled water brands. One could also call it “cold prepared wood tea”.
Rotary Vacuum Evaporator
Separating apple cider into clear cider and apple butter: We used fresh cider, so no alcohol in there, otherwise the clear apple cider would be your typical Calvados. However, the remaining solids turned out as an incredibly intense “apple butter”. Since we vacuum boiled it and the apples were not exposed to high heat, all the wonderful aromas still were there. The aroma comparison of the clear cider vs the solids was also very interesting. The clear cider had a green, fresh apple aroma. The “apple butter” was more like a sweet roll, almost cinnamon-infused aroma. (According to the ingredients list of the cider jug, no spices were added)
low temp separation of clear apple cider (left) and a powerful "apple butter" (right)
Beer Whiskey: Putting a bottle of Hennepin Beer through the rotovap process was interesting. The feedback was between “terrible” and “interesting”. We also wondered what would happen if we re-carbonated it in an iSi siphon and chilled it in a Refrigerated Circulating Bath for a very hoppy, high proof beer…
Infusing vodka with orange citrus peel and lavender
Separating Habanero aroma from Capsaicin: This has been done successfully many times, but most people still haven’t had the chance yet to taste it. It’s pretty amazing to taste how aromatic Habanero is once you remove the active component that is responsible for the heat.
“Super Chiller” or Refrigerated Circulating Bath Bath
Aging fish at 0C: Something we’ll be looking into is the idea of using the Refrigerated Circulating Bath to hold fish at precisely 0°C to allow for ageing as described in Sunday’s main stage demo by Bjorn Frantzen and Daniel Lindenberg.
The Aviary Old Fashioned in the Rocks: Still one of the most creative applications for a Refrigerated Circulating Bath has been developed by the Aviary team. As this video shows, the goal is to produce an ice shell that holds a cocktail and is then cracked open by the drinker. To freeze the shell, fill a balloon with water and freeze the shell in a alcohol/water mix at -10C, drill a hole to drain the remaining liquid and replace the void with a cocktail.
Programmable Cook-Chill with remote iPhone control: We demonstrated how the new PolyScience Programmable Refrigerated Circulating Bath can be programmed for automated cook-chill processes with remote control and monitoring via our iPhone application. Temperature data is logged into Excel by simply putting a USB flash drive into the back of the unit. For a set up to acommodate larger batches of cook-chill, we recommend the Sous Vide Table by Randell.
Sous Vide™ Professional
Circulating duck fat: a number of people asked if it is possible to circulate duck fat and how they would clean the unit afterwards. Yes, the Sous Vide Professional is capable of circulating butter, duck fat or other liquids. However, if your application doesn’t require a whole tank full of duck fat, you can also simply use small hotel pans filled with the desired liquid and set it into the precisely controlled circulated bath (This can also provide the benefits of Sous Vide cooking without involving a vacuum sealer and local health department requirements that go with that). To clean the unit, simply run it in a vinegar, water, and non-foaming dish detergent mix.
Producing and holding warm cocktail foams, Olive Oil Chantilly and egg-yolk based sauces:
The new Whip Canister Holder - 1 fits all size canisters! No floating canisters. No abuse to the lever.
Infusions of botanicals into alcohol or syrups in sous vide bath: Something we hear from more and more chefs/pastry chefs is that they use the Sous Vide Professional for
Infusion of flavors and aromas into custard. This isn’t anything new in terms of flavor, but it is a time saver. We poured a traditional Crème Anglaise mix into the vacuum bag, added a couple twigs of lavender, sealed it, and cooked it for 20 min at 179F. Afterwards we massaged the bag to distribute the lavender… the crème had just the right hint of lavender.
Flavored snow: this is something that sounds good in theory, but may not work. Philip came up with the idea putting a larger cover on the Anti-Griddle (Cambro tank size) and humidifying it with a flavored liquid (perhaps rotovap’ed orange) to create a flavored “snow”. It wouldn’t take long to produce some snow. So, we’ll try it out soon.
Holding frozen delicate foods during service: One chef mentioned the he uses the Anti-Griddle at the garde manger station during busy times to prepare and hold finely grated frozen smoked salmon. Interesting…
The Smoking Gun™
Saffron Smoked Chocolate Mousse: This is a cool idea we came up with in discussions during the show but did not try yet. Fill iSi whipper with a chocolate mousse base, set up The Smoking Gun with 2 pinches of dried saffron, and inject saffron smoke into the canister. Then charge the canister with gas and foam the chocolate mousse infused with smoke aroma.
Catching up in the booth: Jeffrey Steingarten, Philip Preston, Nastassia Lopez, Dave Arnold, Johnny Iuzzini, Alvin Schultz and Joe Strybel
A special thank you goes out to Arielle Johnson and Alvin Schultz, our volunteer helpers we had this year in our booth!