Dinner at the Modernist Cuisine Kitchen Lab

Dinner at the Modernist Cuisine Kitchen Lab

The first of the twenty-nine courses started things off with a crunch: crispy chips made from unlikely material like dill pickle and watermelon. To get a crackling texture from such wet ingredients, Myhrvold fills them with a starch slurry. Back to Modernist Cuisine: Defending the SpacemanHelen Rosner
A seemingly straightforward course of pasta alla vongole got its twist from a textural pun: the pasta was the clam, long-cut strips of a gently cooked geoduck, accompanied by sea beans and bagna cauda. Back to Modernist Cuisine: Defending the SpacemanHelen Rosner
Once the clam pasta was plated, Myhrvold brought out the geoduck itself: an entirely odd-looking creature whose long siphon enabled the pasta-shaped slices we were eating. Back to Modernist Cuisine: Defending the SpacemanHelen Rosner
It's apt to describe the consomme poured over the "beef stew" as blood-red: this is rare beef broth, made according to one of many innovative stock-making methods in Modernist Cuisine. The color may be startling, but the flavor is homey and familiar: clean, beefy, and deep. Back to Modernist Cuisine: Defending the SpacemanHelen Rosner
A course of "Polenta with Marinara" came with a guessing game: what's in the sauce? It turns out to be a mixture of quince and pear, ably demonstrating Myhrvold's thesis that any sufficiently sweet and acidic fruit can be an able substitute for tomato. Back to Modernist Cuisine: Defending the SpacemanHelen Rosner
Dark, wide noodles made from bitter cocoa powder met a briny, creamy sauce in "Cocoa Pasta with Sea Urchin," a brilliant pairing of flavors and textures. Back to Modernist Cuisine: Defending the SpacemanHelen Rosner
The birds at the centerpiece of "Roast Chicken, Jus Gras" were cooked Peking duck-style, par-roasted and hung to dry before being blasted with in a combi oven. The result was skin so crispy it shattered against the fork, and meat so juicy and flavorful that the accompanying gravy, itself a minor miracle, was almost an afterthought. Back to Modernist Cuisine: Defending the SpacemanHelen Rosner
The meal's highlight was "Pastrami and Sauerkraut," a buttery, pastrami-spiced brisket cooked sous vide for a whopping 72 hours. Paired with rye chips, sauerkraut, and the brassica tang of brussels sprouts, it was an haute take on Jewish deli. Back to Modernist Cuisine: Defending the SpacemanHelen Rosner
The final savory course was a nod to Myhrvold's long fascination with barbecue: pork ribs cooked sous vide until meltingly tender, then flash-frozen and deep-fried for an ultra-crispy exterior; sweet, meaty smoked brisket; and a trio of extraordinary condiments. The most marvelous is in the center: a brothy sauce made by throwing smoked Hungarian peppers, maple syrup, bourbon, burnt ends, and other scrap ingredients into a centrifuge and seeing what came out. Back to Modernist Cuisine: Defending the SpacemanHelen Rosner
Truly, the centrifuge produced some of the meal's most compelling flavors. This is "pea butter," the lipid puree that forms the center layer when a pea puree goes into the 50-G device. It's bright, spring-like, and makes for a great occasion for Myhrvold to joke to the crowd about the old "visualize whirled peas" gag. Back to Modernist Cuisine: Defending the SpacemanHelen Rosner
After Myhrvold brought out the centrifuge (it's that large purple thing in the foreground), Thomas Keller and CIA president Tim Ryan checked out a jar of whirled pea puree, stratified into three layers: two large areas of liquid and fiber, and a millimeters-thin layer of the pea butter. Back to Modernist Cuisine: Defending the SpacemanHelen Rosner
"Here are three pots de creme," Myhrvold said by way of introducing the final dessert course. Then came the hedge: "Actually, one is not a pot de creme. Actually, none are pots de creme." From left: cold-filtered coffee cream, a de-alcoholized whiskey cream over banana gelee, and vanilla. Back to Modernist Cuisine: Defending the SpacemanHelen Rosner
Myhrvold holds up the molds used to make the olive-oil gummy worms: actual fishing molds bought from an outdoor supply store. Back to Modernist Cuisine: Defending the SpacemanHelen Rosner
To end the meal on a witty finish, gummy worms: made Modernist thanks to an olive oil gel base flecked with vanilla. Back to Modernist Cuisine: Defending the SpacemanHelen Rosner
The tables for dinner were arranged in the lab itself, tucked between a prep table and shelves packed with equipment and machinery. Back to Modernist Cuisine: Defending the SpacemanHelen Rosner