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Pastry Chef Francois Payard didn't bring liquid nitrogen or any molecular equipment to the Main Stage for his presentation on Day 3 of ICC. He proclaimed, "basic isn't boring. And if you can do it perfectly, why not?" And so, he brought his simplicity to the big show for the pastry faithful who packed the stands on StarChefs final day at the SuperPier. Before he dove into his cooking demonstration, Payard noted, "people think I'm mean, but I'm not mean!"
He portrayed his true fun-loving and playful nature with his choice for the demo: the iconic sweet of every modern American's childhood, the beloved Rice Crispy Treat. "It's so simple to make. And really easy to fuck-up," said the thickly accented Frenchman as he used a paint brush to coat sheets of phyllo in clarified butter and cocoa powder. He stacked the sheets together and baked them between silicone mats to create a crisp geometric garnish to embellish the modest treat.
For the crispy itself, Payard combined the tried and true puffed rice cereal with PreGel's dark roasted hazelnut paste, milk chocolate, white chocolate, and peanut oil. He then plated the composed dessert-treat with chocolate mousse, caramelized nuts, caramel sauce, and powdered sugar.
When Payard finished the plate and held up the dressed-up American staple for all to see, the humble Rice Crispy Treat received wild applause. Preferring to let his food speak for itself, Payard concluded by saying, "You're lucky if you understood half of what I've said!" A wide smile crept across his face as the audience continued to applaud.
Johnny Iuzzini of Sugar Fueled Inc. â New York, NY
Sam Mason of OddFellows â Brooklyn, NY
Mason spends his days in the test kitchen of OddFellows Ice Cream Co. trying to âget as many different things as I can into ice creamâshove in as much flavor as I can.â
Masonâs favorite vehicle for folding flavor into ice creams is liquid nitrogen. On the Main Stage, Mason and Iuzzini made whiskey fluid gel noodles with prehydrated agar. They then pumped the gel into liquid nitrogen, broke them into small pieces, and incorporated them into ice cream base. Itâs the best way theyâve found to incorporate virtually impossible to freeze alcohol into an ice cream, with the added benefit of creating pockets of intense whisky flavor. As the temperature of the rock-solid gel balances with the ice cream, the pockets remain, but the textures become homogenous. Mason also froze mini marshmallows with liquid nitrogen, so he could torch them and achieve camp fire glory without a gummy, expanding mess. The frozen marshmallows went into a blender with frozen graham crackers and chocolate to make a sâmore powder that he used to coat ice cream balls. One of his proudest achievements is his melon-prosciutto ice cream made by incorporating melon sorbet rocks into a prosciutto-infused ice cream base.
Infusions are another method of choice for delivering flavor to his ice creams, as with his prosciutto and chorizo caramel ice creams that involve blitzing meat into cream with a Waring Commercial immersion blender. Another favorite is his cornbread ice cream that involves a quick two-hour infusion with Jiffy cornbread. In his demo, Iuzzini made a trompe lâoeil showpiece with sourdough-infused ice cream, piping a bread slice-shaped mold one-third full with ice cream and pulling it with a vacuum to fill the mold. In the shop, Mason has topped the âbreadâ with PB&J ice cream (liquid nitrogen shards of Welchâs grape jelly and peanut butter base), serving the ultimate, re-imagined ice cream sandwich.
âAs a chef, youâre always a target. But ice cream makes everyone happy, and youâre off criticsâ radars,â said Mason, whose self-deprecation belies the energy, research, and pastry prowess that he puts into each of his ice cream flavors.
Aki Kamozawa and Alex Talbot, the couple surging the culinary industry forward one blog post at a time, turned up the flavor knob to 11 on the ICC Main Stage. The duo presented on a variety of topics, including how to achieve the intensity of dry aging without moisture loss and expensive equipment by holding beef in a layer of funky blue cheese or cured ham skin. They discussed their new favorite beef fat monté (made with beef fat, beef jus, and xanthan gum) that they use to sauce plates and poach proteins. They also showcased the benefits of lightly scoring and flash freezing meat before deep frying as an incredibly effective way of achieving a crusty surface, tender meat (ice crystals help break down cell walls), and rare centerbefore bringing the meat to temperature in a CVap.
Standing on a Camrack for a little bump in height, Kamozawa broke down a boneless Australian rib-eye into the deckle and center cut, which she then split into two separate steaks. The rib-eye is an interesting cut of meat, said Talbot. It has fat, sinew, and gristle. If you slice and grill it, it has tons of waste. But theres so much potential. To help reduce waste and tap into said potential, Talbot discussed how they pressure cook a stock of sinew, cracklings, trim, and even silver skin. When pressure cooked, the silver skin breaks down, and they say it has more flavor than bones. When you use meat and bones in stock, youre a gelatin factory. When youre pressure cooking skin and cracklings, youre chasing delicious, said Talbot.
Talbot rendered the rib-eyes trimmed fat and infused it with vadouvan curry, pepperoni, and ground onions (because its faster than chopping), later adding shrimp shells and Madeira- and bourbon-marinated scallops to make an umami-forward sauce, which he imparted with smoky flavor inside the Beech Stone Hearth Oven from Jade Range. Talbot and Kamozawa finished the demo with beef tartare with kimchi juice (stolen from Bryan Voltaggios demo), assembled on top of ham skin instead of a plateso they wouldnt miss their chance at achieving maximum flavor.