I finally logged into my blog today, and I realized that I’ve been a slacker! Well, I’ve just been slacking on writing, because I’ve been logging some long hours at the lab!

Courtesy of Scott Heimendinger

We’ve been focusing on special events, and I’ve been wrapping my mind – and hands – around the ultra fine dining techniques that we use. Herbs are hand plucked, where we carefully remove the leaves from the stems, reserving just the brightest green bits. Chickens are brined, trussed, and hung by the “ankles” to let the skins dry out and the salty brine spread throughout the flesh. Beef short rib is trimmed, brined, rubbed, smoked, and sous-vide cooked. Mini vegetables, like radishes, carrots, and mushrooms are trimmed, lightly sauteed, and seasoned. Foams, custards, and marmelades are set and charged in whipping siphons. Omelets are steamed and spheres are sphered. Okay, I wasn’t sure how to make a verb from “spherification.” Yes, I’ve had a chance to do most of those steps; fortunately, other people are also involved, so guests aren’t subjected to my cooking alone and I am not stuck in the lab too late into the nights.

The lab staff has grown a bit, since one of our staff chefs, Aaron, is in Paris staging at Agape Substance. To replace his amazing talents, two cooks who have years of experience have joined the team in a temporary capacity, much like how I had joined the team in December. They have mad knife skills. Okay, that was a bit slangy, but one of the cooks can julienne and fine julienne like I’ve only dreamed of doing, and the other can multitask so many gelato recipes it’s insane. I would feel even more intimidated by these talented men, but like the other chefs, they’re just as humble and human as the rest.

Speaking of talented chefs, we’ve had some interesting dinner guests. Most of the chefs and restauranteurs who have attended aren’t recognizable to me, mostly because I tend to look at food, not faces. Oops. (Next time you hang out with me, try make it a walking/exercising date, since if we go to a restaurant, I’ll probably forget you and focus on food!)  Anyway, we did have one super-recognizable chef at one of our recent dinners. Tell me if you recognize him.

I used his recipes to help develop my Chef of the Day menu. It’s partly because I was unsure of how to approach Asian fusion cooking without simply using a wonton wrapper as a substitute for pasta in a ravioli dish. The other is that I was really drawn to the classical riffs that this chef did in his most recent Wild Ginger recipes.

We have just a few more dinners this week and next, then life will go back to normal. And by normal, I mean back to research projects long shelved! And I’ll get to go back to playing around with some ideas at home, including a new protein cookie for Josh and a gluten-free hand pie.  I also have a long-rainchecked play date with a chef in SoDo. Hmm could June come a little sooner?