Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Mont Blanc Christmas Party

This is the Mont Blanc Blog about the custom molecular dinner we did for them using some of their productshttp://montblancgourmet.com/blog/

Tasting menu 69

I have been getting some emails lately about how crazy my food is and that I am doing some kind of disservice to the culinary world. Why would you ever float food or why did you put a inedible garnish on a plate they ask? My answer is why not. As long as the garnish if functional like the chap stick compound butter. I would rather challenge my guest with new flavors or presentations then throw out the same shit year after year. Look, I was the chef 2 years ago looking into this crazy world and wondering if it had a place. After a few years of burning my hands in LN or making soda or even making Lego's my answer is yes. I am having a blast and the people that try our tasting menus do to. I know my customers will remember their meal, will yours??

Quail eggs
Chorizo, black vinegar, blackberry

Compressed watermelon
Olive salad. Snow crab, whipped feta

Line caught tuna and prosciutto terrine
Parsnip pudding, curry sphere, zucchini

White chocolate macadamia nut brownie
With coffee ice cream made tableside
With liquid nitrogen

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas

Tasting menu 68

I am working on changing all of the menus in the restaurant this week. We are going to make some changes to help with our business levels in 09. One thing we will do is not to offer a breakfast buffet Monday through Saturday. We will be able to control food cost better and with one less cook. We are going to have to take a look at all of our operations to make sure we are running a tight ship next year. New Years eve should be very interesting this year. Rumor has it that Wide Spread Panic will play in our ball room after their concert in Denver. Merry Christmas to everyone and have a creative 09.

Smoked tempura cranberries
Rainbow trout, dried Japanese cucumbers, apple gastrique

Parsnip fries
Bresola, caper aioli, red pepper textures

Frankincense space foam

Sou-vide Colorado lamb chops
Chanterelle, blue cheese marbles, chestnut powder

Peppermint ice cream rolled in gingerbread crumbs
Made table side with liquid nitrogen

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Silicon Mold for Floating Dish

I bought some bouncing balls today to use in my soft silicon mold. After the mold is cured I will be able to make 1/2 spheres of any flavor and glue them together for the for the floating plate.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Gadget Inspectors

This article came out Monday in the Rocky Mountain News. There is also a video part if you get on the website. Last week we all learned that the Rocky Mountain News was up for sale and might shut down in the near future. The paper has been running for over 150 years and it will be a tragedy to see it go.http://www.rockymountainnews.com/news/2008/dec/14/slicing-and-dicing-the-claims/

Tasting Menu 67

I hate December. Most people like it because they get to spend time off with their families. Chefs get to spend 20% more time at their jobs handling holiday parties and special request. This week marks the end of our major Christmas parties. I will take all of the business I can get, who knows what the first quarter of next year will bring. I am looking forward to spending some time on some ideas I have had floating around my head. I am still playing with my superconductor like a little boy on Christmas morning

Grilled Hama Hama oysters
Buddha’s hand, garlic jel, fried bread

Popcorn soup
Butter lattice, Siracha caramel corn

Maine Lobster
Ginger mosaic, corn sorbet, avocado cream

Fresh baked blueberry muffin
Yuzu cream cheese ice cream
made tableside with liquid nitrogen

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Floating Truffle

Ever since I started cooking I have always thought about floating food. After a gentle nudge from Jason at Westword and a lot of help from Robert Semerad of Theva labs in Germany my dream was reached. I have been like a kid playing with the superconductivity "plate" since it arrived from Germany yesterday.

Robert has baked rare earth metals into this superconducting cube. It is attached to a special plastic plate with glue that can with stand the -320 temperatures of liquid nitrogen. The "plate" is a rare earth magnet ring that levitates on top of the cube when the cold temperature of the superconductor is reached.

Any round food item can sit inside the ring as it turns and spins. It is imposiible to not sit there and stare at it in amasment. How can this be done? I have already had thoughts about eggs, bubble gum, spheres, you name it. Thanks again to Robert for helping me make my dream come true. We will be getting in more "plates" in so our guest can play with their food.


GSI Score

When you check out from any Starwood property you have the opportunity to rate your entire stay from the friendliness of staff to food quality. This is called our Guest Service Index or GSI. Today ratings were posted for all brands. Our restaurant came in #3 for all Westins and #10 overall for all brands. Our brands include St. Regis, Le Meridien, Luxury Collection, W, Westin and Sheraton. This is a huge honor for us considering that we are not a resort property rather a business hotel with very traveled and educated customers. I am very proud of my entire staff

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Silver Solder Plate

I really like table side presentations. It is a chance for the guest to see a little kitchen prep in the dinning room. As I was soldering some pipes for a plumbing project at home, I was taken back by the shapes the solder would make as it hit a hard surface. I wondered if it was possible to make someone a plate table side. Solder in the 60's, 70's and 80' was made from lead. These days it is lead free and non toxic so my plate was still an option.
I began by melting the solder into a liquid ball.

I then picked up the sheet tray it was on and slammed it against the table. I then cooled the plate with cold water. After a few seconds it is cold enough to serve a dish on.

A free formed plate remains that when cooled can be used as a app plate
Here I used the plate for some liquid nitrogen dipped creme anglaise cherries

Client Holiday Party

Every year we throw a big reception in the lobby for our clients. This year we did chef action stations throughout our decorated lobby. We made a few molecular dishes including cranberry mint spoons with eggnog gelee, roasted Colorado lamb with mint neutral caramel and of course the liquid nitrogen station with peppermint and eggnog rum ice creams

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Tasting Menu 66

I am posting the menu for next week a little early. We are doing a special menu next week with some Mont Blanc products. They are having there Christmas party here next week. It is insane here at the hotel right now. For example I have 5 parties in my restaurant tonight along with over 1000 in banquets. During the holidays you really see which employees and which managers step up their game. Needless to say December is not going to yield a lot of time to play. Tis the season

Mole Shrimp
Dried pasole, cotija relleno, cactus glass

Chocolate Polenta
Pulled spicy pork, mozzarella sheets, tomato textures

Ghana Space Foam

Caramel Chicken
Carrot pudding, pea sphere, brioche

Chai tea noodles
Coffee consommé, condensed milk
Made table side with liquid nitrogen

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Art Institute Demo

I was asked by chef Corey to come do a demo at the culinary school I graduated from in 1997. They have started a new class called Art Cullinare where they study and then learn the techniques of the best molecular chefs. Their first day was El bulli, Alinea and The Fat Duck. We agreed that I would come make a composed dish using some different hydrocollids and the thermal circulator. I would then talk about some techniques using liquid nitrogen. My demo came on the Monday after Thanksgiving. We had not received our normal shipment of LN due to the holiday. There is a small airgas store pretty close to the culinary school so my plan was to stop over in the middle of my demo to fill my small dewar. Everything that could have gone wrong did. My thermal circulator would not work. This was the base for the composed dish. To make it even worse the shop were I went to fill the tank had the same problem, they did not receive there shipment due to the holiday. A good chef will always figure the situation out. I poached the eggs in water, not the same texture but they got the point. As for the LN, I talked about its physical properties and what I use it for. I will go back to the school on Monday so they can actually try something. All I could do is shake my head, smile and get through it. No matter how much planning goes into a event there is always something that will go wrong. The trick is not letting the guest know there is anything wrong.

Tasting menu 65

We are getting into the start of our Holiday party season. We have a lot of parties on the weekend so if you are coming for the tasting menu please make a reservation so we can be sure to save you a table. After some plumbing work at my house I am going to play around with silver sauter. I want to make a plate for someone table side. I would bring out the torch and melt a silver plate for you in the dinning room. That's my problem, even when I am working on something that is not food related, my brain is still thinking of how I flip it into a dish.

Blackened Colorado trout
BBQ onions, smoked grapes, whipped yogurt

Bacon consommé
Sweet corn, tempura clams, potato foam

Forrest mushroom sheet
Prime rib, hollandaise, broken baby vegetables in soy

Peanut butter frangipane tart with strawberry ice cream
Made tableside with liquid nitrogen

The Gadget Test

If you have ever lived in Colorado or watched the news on your way through town you probably recognize this guy, Bill Clarke. He was a news anchor for many years at channel 7. Bill is retired from TV, now he does some side projects for different media outlets in Colorado. Bill asked me if he could bring up some kitchen gadgets that he ordered off those late night infomercials. I have always wanted to know if the electric vegetable peeler really works or if the slider grill made perfect paddies. We had a blast trying some different gadgets. The only one that really worked was a microwavable pasta cooker. The story will be coming out in the Rocky Mountain News Spotlight section in the next 2 weeks.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Vertical Table Prototype

I received my rare earth magnets in the mail the other day for our superconductivity dish. As I was playing with these extremely power full magnets I wondered how else I could use them. I decided I wanted to build a table setting that did not take up a lot of room. I found a metal rod and attached it to a wood base. (For the finished table setting, the rod would be drilled into the middle of the table). We first melted a candle and reformed it with a magnet inside. We also moved the wick so it would burn on a angle. I then filled salt and pepper shakers with nuts so they would stick to our pole. In my next design I will have little metal bowls with tiny wooden spoons to remove the salt and pepper. I then attached some fresh cut flowers and some flat bread. Think about how much room is taken up by all these items. You could have smaller tables in your restaurant, more seats, more revenue. The downside- anyone with a metal plate or a pacemaker.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Buddha's Hand

This is a fruit plate that we made for a VIP coming into the hotel today. The yellow finger like fruit is called a Buddha's hand or citron. It is never eaten raw instead it is pressed for its essential oils or candied and used in baking.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tasting Menu 64

We had a really messed up Saturday night last week. Not only did we sell over 30 tasting menus, we had a group in house called LA Dance. This is a group of 8-12 year old boys and girls that have a dance competition here at the hotel. Imagine slamming out tasting menus with 150 orders of chicken fingers along with our regular menu. Nights like Saturday make me realise that I try to do to much sometimes. We are almost sold out for Thanksgiving brunch here at the Westin. I have volunteered to help cook thanksgiving dinner for St. Matthews Baptist church this year. I will be here all night at the hotel cooking turkeys along with all the fixens. We will not serve the tasting menu on Thanksgiving. We will have it Friday and Saturday night.

Fried baby artichokes
Caper dirt, warm walnut mayo, garlic sugar

Smoked herring brandade
Onion taffy, dried corn, red pepper crisps

Beet Space Foam

Molasses painted quail
Smoked chicken hash, fennel, apple textures

“Red” noodles with miso ice cream
Made tableside with liquid nitrogen

Tim The Line Cook

I have a cook named Tim on my morning line. Tim has been to a few too many Gratefull Dead shows if you know what I mean. There is always something going on with him, this week he has been taking part in a sleeping disorder study. He takes lots of pain pills and sometimes it is amazing that his food hits the window. Tim came to work on Sunday just like he always does. This week we had a few people out so we had to schedule him for a different shift. This is the message he left for the chef on Sunday:

"Chef this is Tim Harris, it is Sunday morning and I went to work because you changed the schedule and did not tell me about it. I am suppose to be off Monday Tuesday not Sunday Monday. I am really pissed off about this. You owe me $5 dollars for gas."

I cannot tell you how hard I laughed the first time I heard this

Friday, November 21, 2008

How To Make Food Float

Ever since I read this article
I have been researching a food technology fantasy of mine. Floating food. My first thought was superconductivity. I wanted to find a food that was naturally high in metal. Would the small traces like Mercury in tuna be enough to hold the food up in a magnetic field? I then found out that a rare earth magnet is really what levitates. My thoughts of floating tuna or building a hallow metal container that would float and could be opened up to reveal a dish were out. Another down fall to the superconductivity dish is rare earth metals cannot be heated. They release harmful toxins that can kill you. The only option with superconductivity is to use the magnet as a cold "plate". After doing a little more research I came across Sulfur hexafluoride. This is a colorless odorless non-toxic gas.What makes it so interesting is that when you fill a glass with sulfur hexafluoride the molecules are so large that air will float on it. What does this mean? If you made a air texture which we can do with lecithin or egg white powder, it would sit on top of the gas in the glass and have the illusion of it levitating. The problem- it is very expensive and is the most potent of the green house gasses. Next time a get a little time in a lab I will test my theory.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Hot Soy Cold Soy

To make this texture I first took coconut milk, coconut powder and honey and gelled it with agar. We then made a mixture of white soy, sake, mirin and yuzu and reduced it by 1/2. I then added a .45% ratio of hydrated Gellan F. We then flash froze the coconut cubes in liquid nitrogen. The gellan soy mixture is served in a craft on the side. The guest takes the craft of hot soy and pours it over the frozen coconut cubes. The gellan in the soy changes the consistency of the sauce to loose jelly.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tasting menu 63

I have been talking to scientist all over the world about superconductivity this week. Will it work for my application? I ordered my materials in and I am going to give it a shot. I am still waiting on my vacuum sealer from Le Santuaire. I have had some problems the last month getting the right products from them. The other exciting event this week will be some serious playing around. As I was reading some research about liquid nitrogen I came across this very interesting fact. If you freeze a container of shaving cream in LN you can peel the metal away leaving a frozen foam cylinder. You then put the cylinder in someones car. As the temperature raises the foam will expand. Apparently you only need two canisters to fill a car. We will see!!

144 degree egg yolk
Fall vegetables, cranberry, smoked shrimp

Roasted apple consommé
Beet and carrot meringue, red wine rocks

Hibiscious sorbet with tarragon
Made tableside with liquid nitrogen

Slow butter poached monkfish
Grapefruit, hot soy-cold soy, coconut milk

Coffee sphere filled with tiramisu foam
And frozen lady finger powder

Palmer Demo

We had a great time at Palmer elementary yesterday with Ms. Laventure's 4th and 5th graders.
We talked about how different gases help me cook. I brought my carbonation machine along and made some homemade sprite for the class.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

2 Tasting Menus + 1 Room Night = $189

We are starting this promotion this week and will run through the end of December. Some dates have been blacked out due to the hotel being sold out. You have to check in on Thursday, Friday, or Saturday night to receive the package. You can check Food 102 the Tuesday before for menus. http://colorado.destinations.starwoodhotels.com/Westminster/tasting.htm?EM=SPG_6709124SS_WI_1173_NAD_RSS&language=en_US

Friday, November 14, 2008

LN Ratatouille

Liquid nitrogen effects different structures in foods. Porous structures like rice crispy treats and marshmallows trap small amounts of nitrogen gas inside them. If you eat someting that has nitogen gas trapped inside, it looks like you have dragon smoke flying out. Solid structures like vegetables will freeze solid and shatter when left in nitrogen to long. I wanted my ratatouille to beable to hold nitorgen in its stucture. To make it I cut the vegetables into 1 inch cubes and tossed them in herbs, olive oil and salt. I then dehydrated them for 12 hours. Next we sliced romas and put them in the dehydrator for 24 hours. They then went into the spice grinder and were turned into a fine powder. I then tossed the dried vegetables with the tomato powder and froze them in LN.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Neutral Caramel Mosaic

The neutral caramel was one of the first recipes I tried out of El Bulli. As with all of the other recipes, it is impossible to do unless you have the right equipment ( In this case a spice grinder). This neutral caramel is made by cooking isomalt, glucose, rice wine vinegar and fondant to the hard crack stage. After the sugar is cool I put it in a spice grinder and made a fine dust. I then put the mixture through a fine sieve onto the transfer sheet. We then took a torch and very carefully melted the sugar onto the sheet. After the sheet is cool the sugar will peel right off with the pattern of the transfer sheet. It then can be melted onto any food as a garnish

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Liquid Nitrogen Bubbles

Believe it or not I saw this on the kid segment on David Letterman the other night. The kid poured liquid nitrogen on some soap bubbles and it exploded into layers of foam streaming down the side of the container. Could this be copied using edible ingredients? I first tried egg white and xantham. The weight of the nitrogen hitting the bubbles broke every one. I then tried a lecithin combination. Again the force of the nitrogen was too great. I then tried a mixture of gum base and glycerin. I then used a air pump to start the bubbles. This structure was able to hold up when the nitrogen was poured on it. The next step is how to use this in a dish.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Recent Press

We had Mile High Eater come in a few weeks ago and they gave us this nice write up.
We also had Yellow Scene Magazine talk about our event at DU last week.http://yellowscene.com/2008/10/31/the-ever-so-creative-os-chef/

Tasting menu 62

We are really starting to feel the dip in the economy. The good news is our weekend business has been very strong. We sold 43 tasting menus last week. It is time for me to crawl back into my shell again. I have my best ideas when I don't look at a lot of food media. We are going to make head cheese next weeks menu. I have not made it before but our Executive sous Scott did it a few times. The inspiration for the ice cream this week comes from Ideas in Food's article in Popular Science
Crawfish noodles
Creamy grits, smoked corn, cactus paper

Snow crab crème brulee
Watermelon, hoison sugar, unagi

Liquid Nitrogen Ratatouille

Mustard textures, truffle croquette, crispy sauerkraut

Rum ice cream with raisin powder
Made table side with liquid nitrogen

Friday, November 7, 2008

Ginger Soy Caramel Popcorn

I snuck a little bite of my daughters popcorn ball on Halloween and it reminded me of a popcorn I use to serve for lunch at the Hilltop bistro. This recipe uses some rice seasoning made of bonito flakes that you can pick up in any Asian market.
750 grams popcorn popped
150 grams Isomalt
125 grams Sugar
8 grams Ground ginger
20 grams Sesame oil
100 grams pineapple juice
40 grams Sweet soy
50 grams Butter
100 grams Coconut toasted
100 grams Mac nuts toasted
20 grams Bonito rice seasoning
40 grams Soy sugar
3 grams Table salt

Place Isomalt, sugar, ginger, sesame oil, sweet soy, butter and pineapple juice in a saucepan and cook until the hard crack stage. Place the popcorn in a bowl and pour the sugar mixture over the top stiring constantly. Toss in the rest of the ingredients and cool on a sheet tray

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Smoked Milk Pudding

We have been doing a lot of smoking since we got our smoking gun. I like trolling through our drug free work environment here at the hotel with a giant bowl and lighter, I get some pretty classic second looks. We have had some great success smoking liquids. For the menu this week I wanted to create a creamy texture to go along with our Kobe steak this week.
1.2 Qt Milk smoked with cherry wood
2 oz Sugar
1 Tbl. Salt
2 Tbl. Cornstarch
3 ea Egg yolks

Place the milk and salt in a saucepan and scold on high heat. Whisk the eggs and cornstarch together. Temper the eggs with the cream and return to the stove. Cook on medium heat until thickened.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Tasting menu 61

I just bought a dehydrator this week so I will be playing around with some new textures. We have a charity event on Saturday this week with a Cowboy theme. I know I live in Colorado but can we please stop the Cowboy shit. I am going to do a campfire smores ice cream with liquid nitrogen. We also have a school demo at Palmer elementary on Monday.

Flexible parsnip
Popped wheat, maple jell, grilled carrot marshmallow

Tiger shrimp powder
Cocktail caviar, dashi granita, horseradish bubbles

Crispy soy wrapped Kobe beef
Smoked milk pudding, granny smith apple, shitake leather

Homemade eggnog ice cream
Rolled in frozen sugar cookie powder
Made table side with liquid nitrogen

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Taste of Elegance Competition

We had a fun event at DU on Thursday. There were some of the best chefs in the area there. We ended up setting our station on the outside patio. Something about a 600 pound tank of liquid nitrogen and a unconfined fryer that gets you separated from the rest of the pack. We made the "ultimate wonton", a mixture of foie, tuna, lobster, truffle shavings, white truffle oil, white soy and yuzu that is flash fried and served with soy bubbles. We also did our Mexican fried ice cream with frozen caramel powder. When it was done we won most creative dish. Chef Jean Luc from our sister property downtown won best food pairing with wine and my boy Hosea from Jax in Boulder won best overall. Pay close attention to Hosea, he is a contestant on Top Chef next season and I got my money on him. Thank you to Claire Walter fromhttp://culinary-colorado.blogspot.com/ for the picture

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Another Trip to the ER

We work in a very dangerous profession. I have had some bad kitchen accidents. My major accident happened when I was 17. I was breaking the line when another cook dropped boiling pasta water down my leg. As I peeled my pants off my skin went with it. I spent 2 days in the ER and 2 months in therapy. I have also had numerous stitches and third degree burns in my career. Yesterday I was making pumpkin noodles for the tasting menu. When I was filling a tube the hot mixture exploded into my eye. I ended up with second degree burns to my cornea. Normal people would take the day off but I have a VIP party today and the competition tonight. My Halloween costume has been decided for me this year. I will be a pirate hahahahaha

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Coffee Bubbles

Tasting menu 60

I have a competition this week at DU on Thursday. It should be pretty fun, we did it last year and had a great time. We are going through a lot of changes in the hotel. We have a new F&B director and our GM just gave notice. There seems to be a lot of tension here. It is certainly not the same hotel I started to work at 3 years ago. It has been tough for me here because I do not share the same philosophies as other managers here. It is hard to build something up only to see it fall apart when you are not there. Hopefully something will give in the next couple of months??

Mignonette Jelly
House smoked trout, caper bubbles, lavosh cream

Apple Cider Consommé
Pumpkin noodles, floating sage, chicken and bacon

Kombu space foam

Green olive braised short rib
Marinated tomato sheet, anchovy aioli, eggplant

Trick or Treat ice cream
Made table side with liquid nitrogen

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Mckinley-Thatcher Demo

The proudest moment of this demo is when I asked the class how they thought I made the strawberry noodles. After hearing some very interesting answers, my 7 year old daughter told the class verbatim how I made them for her 1 1/2 ago. I was a bubbling dad