I had the pleasure of participating in a day-long workshop with Ideas In Food’s Alex Talbot at the Rittenhaus Tavern in Philadelphia this past week, and since I’m a food, cooking and a gadget geek, I was in a state of agitated bliss. So, of course the first thing that was on my mind as I drove home that day, belly full of lobster done six ways, beef shoulder CVAPPED, deep-fried and burger-ized, handmade pasta with cod tripe tomato sauce, double-butter, no-knead brioche cinnamon buns (see below), and eggs done as umpteen experiments, was: I want to more of this and I have to share this with you all. Somehow.
Hence this special workshop offer. I arranged with Alex to set up a private workshop for a small group (me plus 4) that would take place in his and Aki’s home culinary workshop in Levittown, PA. Normally, these “bespoke” workshops start at around $800 per person, per day, but my relentless enthusiasm and rat-terrier-like persistence (I’ve had two of these terrorizing, but cute dogs) have resulted in a rare (and affordable) opportunity to spend the day immersed in culinary creativity with two of the most talented, creative and innovative chef/teachers in the food world today. It’s a chance to cook, not from recipes, but from inspiration and ideas. A chance to be informed by the food, and led down a path of culinary instinct and creativity. Do you want to be a more creative, intuitive, fearless cook? Do you consider cooking to be a serious hobby/obsession? Do you love great restaurant food and would love to get an inside look at how it evolves from idea to plate? Does the idea of spending a Sunday (August 26) playing with food get you excited? Then don’t wait another second and grab one of the four spots available for this unique opportunity!
I’ve set up a “party” on this great new site ZOKOS that allows you to create any kind of event/private party that you want to invite people to and share the cost. I think it’s brilliant! Just think how many more dinner parties you would do if you could share the grocery bill? Or the high-end ingredients you’d love to try out on a group of friends but can’t take out another mortgage to do it…ZOKOS may be your answer. So…click through here to be one of the five of us who will participate in this extraordinary day of cooking.
To learn a little bit more about Ideas in Food, here is an excerpt from an interview with Alex Talbot that appeared in Serious Eats:
Modernist cooking may be all the rage today, but back in 2004 it was just getting started, with few resources and even less press. That’s when the husband and wife team H. Alexander Talbot and Aki Kamozawa began their blog Ideas in Food, a digital notebook that chronicled their experiments with hydrocolloids and sous vide machines, and propelled them to the forefront of a whole new world of cooking.
Today their work, which includes a nerdily awesome essay collection and cookbook, is some of the most authoritative writing on modernist cuisine for professionals and home cooks alike. H. Alexander Talbot talked with us about Ideas in Food’s journey, while sharing insights on culinary whimsy and a test kitchen equipped like a science lab.
What do you see as the goal of your work? Our goal is to make cooks we’re in contact with better. How does that work? We’re still figuring it out. We poke and we prod, and we ask questions and look for answers with individuals, groups, and communities. We get people unafraid to ask questions and look under rocks.
Your cooking has a genuine sense of play and joy. What role does play have in your cooking? We find great pleasure in cooking and sharing things. Whimsy and connections are essential. I think it’s a way to connect and tell a story. In all honesty, you can be creative and break through a culinary barrier with whimsy or alliterations or connecting dots. If I say, “pretzel spaetzle,” you have a couple thoughts: that’s clever, it’s caramelized and toasty. I would want to eat that. It also rhymes. Whimsy is an icebreaker with food. You could serve pretzel spaetzle with sweetbreads to get someone to try them. It brings a connection.
What’s great about our workshops and presentations is that we give knowledge and unlock creativity in individuals. We give them their own voice. We share a process and, okay, then the end results, but they key is process, so others can borrow it and make it their own.
What’s next for Ideas in Food? Our first book came out last December. It gives you supporting knowledge and then recipe. Book two has started, which will be photographed by us as well. The premise is using science, technology, and creativity to make most delicious food possible. It’s geared toward passionate people, so my mom will cook from it, but I hope that all sorts of professionals will want to cook from it as well. It will be a book with layers, with something to learn for every level. It should come out June-ish 2013.
Is the new book a sequel or standalone to Ideas in Food? It’s both. Ideas in Food gets you going. It gets you thinking. This will have that same scientific approach, but there will be fewer essays. Ideas, discoveries, and tips will be scattered in headnotes and the recipes themselves. Ideas in Food was a handbook; this will be more of a workbook.