Day 1 of the IACP Conference: Nils Noren and David Arnold

I drive to Denver early to get to the Sheraton by 8 am.  I forgot to mention that the night before I received a call from Terry our C.O.O.  saying that Ian Kleinman was coming by the school by 7:45 to pick up some liquid nitrogen to take to a TV shoot that Terry had scheduled.  When I heard this I was confused as I thought he was coming to drop off the liquid nitrogen at the Sheraton in time for David Arnold’s and Nils Noren’s class which started at 9am.  So I decided to stop by the school to clear up the confusion.  It turned out that he had no idea what time their class started (I hadn’t communicated it to him).  David Arnold wanted a Dewar of liquid nitrogen and he wanted me to fill up some coffee press pots for his mixed drink presentation.  I felt uncomfortable using our press pots for liquid nitrogen transport so I ignored this request.  Ian and I discussed other options to get the liquid nitrogen to him and settled on him coming right back to the school to refill his 10 liter Dewar after his TV interview and bring it to me at the loading dock by 9:30am in plenty of time to have it for their presentation.

The day was already starting out stressful.  I rushed over to the Sheraton and met up with the team that was working with the Dynamic Uber Tech Duo.  They had a little conflict with the hotel steward as David had taken some of their pitchers that he was planning on doing a liquid nitrogen application in.  They worked it out and at 9am they went on.  The attendance was surprisingly small. I got to watch most of it and it was amazing. Meanwhile I had Patricia out looking for different stuff at whole foods  and picking up Sardines and Mackerel for some other classes.

David and Nils went through most of the modern techniques that are popular right now. They first discussed sous vide and someone asked a question about the conflicts that all the restaurants were having with the NYC health department concerning this technique.  David is a very animated presenter and I love his mannerisms.  He fits the mad scientist profile quite well and is very confident in his delivery.

Nils Noren on the left and David Arnold explaining the Rotovap

Nils Noren on the left and David Arnold explaining the Rotovap

Nils is a very competent and a good presenter.  They presented some very interesting products.  One was corolase that they had a small sample of.  If you add few drops of this to a very gelatinous stock it will dissolve the gelatin instantly.  The benefit is that you can keep the reduced flavor of a highly reduced stock without the cloying sticky sensation you get from the reduced gelatin.  The chef could then thicken the sauce back up to the desired consistency.  They also demonstrated the use of thai red lime powder (a type of Calcium Oxide) which allows a chef to cook bananas without the banana losing color and becoming mushy.

These guys were fascinating and wonderfully entertaining.  They cooked some lamb racks in glade freezer ziplock bags (don’t use any cheap zip lock bags as the one they used from the hotel melted on him).  The racks were seared and then re-thermalized (David likes this expression better than reheating).  They served it with the veal stock reduction that they had de-gelled, seasoned with pressure cooked mustard seeds and a Paonia peach purée thickened with Methyl Cellulose.   The lamb was perfectly cooked and evenly rare throughout.  Special thanks to Douglas Baldwin for the use of his cryovac machine and his thermo recirculator.

At around 9:15,  Ian called me on the cell and I went out to the dock to get their liquid nitrogen.  Special thanks to Ian.

The dessert they served was out of this world.  They had made these little passion fruit mousses and dehydrated them.   They took some of them a froze them with Liquid Nitrogen and it was an amazing texture. They had people come up and taste them and it was hysterical as each would put them in their mouth and it looked like they were smoking and exhaling out of their noses (like people on a freezing cold day).

Earlier they had taken some grapefruit segments and poured LN on them (to save time LN will be used to describe Liquid Nitrogen) and pounded them with a pestle.  They had everyone try them and it was an amazing grapefruit experience.  Too cold to put into your mouth right away (it would stick to your tongue).  When it was finally warm enough to put into your mouth it was an explosion of flavor like I have never quite experienced before.

The banana served along with this dish was firm and caramelized. They also served a coconut mousse that I believe they firmed up with Methyl  Cellulose and mixed with some blanched and shocked tarragon that David froze in a one speed Vita Prep blender with Liquid Nitrogen and then strained the dust through a chinois.  He added the Liquid Nitrogen and it appeared that it froze up the blade and then suddenly it started and blew Liquid Nitrogen everywhere.  As it was cutting the herbs David would occasionally give out the yelps of pain from the places where he had been sprayed with the Nitrogen.  He warned everyone “don’t do this demo with a one speed blender.”

They ended their presentation with a cocktail.  David had used his rotovap to distill a few liquids.  They offered us a shot of scotch that was mixed with peanut essence that he had extracted from the rotovapor.  The cocktail allowed David to demonstrate the use of his carbon dioxide tank (also thanks to Ian).  David had brought some soda bottles that were filled with various liquids and he had a special adapter that he could attach to each bottle to fill them with CO2.

Dave Arnold making his cocktail, Cook Street alumni John Arp assisting

David Arnold making his cocktail, Cook Street alumnus John Arp assisting

First he poured LN into each glass to cool them down and then he filled them with his carbonated liquid mixed with a little Tanqueray and St. Germain.  It was really cool to watch, but the carbonated liquid was flavored with the essence of caraway (another rotovap application) and honestly in my opinion it tasted foul.

The presentation went off without a hitch and everyone was quite satisfied.  I had spent hours trying to gather all the different equipment components and acquire all the products they needed to succeed.  One presentation down 17 to go.

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