I love food, and boy do I love to cook. I periodically trawl youtube for episodes of Iron Chef to watch, so I jumped on the chance to do a Molecular Cuisine class at Vive Cooking School. Our teacher, a charismatic chef with 17 years experience under his belt, took us through creating all the components for a dessert — changing the consistencies of everything.
First up was the ice cream. After watching their demonstration, we took a crack at it ourselves, while Julien and his assistant roamed the room, lending a hand and answering questions. Once we’d all managed to combine our egg yolks, milk, and cinnamon, the mixtures were put into the fridges while we started on the next components.
Next up, in an interactive demonstration. We learned about making powders, foams and gels. Nutella and maltodextrin took the creamy nutella to a light powder while we brainstormed what else we could make powders from (anything with a decent fat content. Peanut butter, pasta sauce, even oil). After those bits had been created, we returned to the ice cream. In perhaps the most visually spectacular part of the class, Julien demonstrated freezing the ice cream with liquid nitrogen. He handled the equipment with the familiarity borne of years of experience, all the while maintaining an engaging flow of speech which was part explanation, part comedy. Afterwards, we got to play with the stuff ourselves. Retrieving our ice cream mixtures from the fridges, we were doled out liquid nitrogen in little pots to take over to our Smeg mixers. That part would’ve been worth the price of the ticket alone. Seeing the little pot cover in ice crystals was fascinating, and the spectacularly dramatic mist that overflowed from our mixers as we poured in the nitrogen felt very Harry-Potter-potion-making.
In fact, the whole thing felt like the science class you always dreamed of having. We used syringes to drop a mixture of apple and pear juice and agar into a solution which solidified the outside. Depending on how we dropped the liquid into the solution, we made pearls (blobs), olives (slightly bigger blobs), or strings. We poured apple puree into a whipped cream charger, and doused the results in more liquid nitrogen. The results looked like meringue, and tasted like crisp apple sorbet. Finally, we were given free reign to plate up our results, before cheerfully devouring the sweet fruits of our labours.
The three hour class flew by, and it hit the balance of demonstration, discussion, and hands-on practice perfectly. The kitchen itself was airy and spacious, with plenty of cafes in the surrounding complex for a pre-class coffee or post-class feed. The aim of the classes is to send you home confident in your ability to make any of it yourself. If you’re up to the challenge, there’s a convenient Red Spoon in the complex for any hard to find ingredients or apparati you might want.
Liv S. is a creature of warm weather and negronis. Her interests include trying new things, nutella powder, and triple utterances. Follow her frolics on @callmememphisjones.
Disclaimer: The Plus Ones were invited guests of Vive Cooking School.
Photo credit: VIVE Cooking School.