Last night was a blast. I’d never seen an Iron Chef-style competition up close before, and I have to say I have nothing but admiration for anyone willing to cook under that sort of pressure. Last night was especially intense for the two competing teams as they had to prepare a meal using only lab equipment: beakers, bunsen burners, hot plates and such. A very funny idea, but frustrating in the extreme for the chefs. Just getting water to boil was a project. Yet somehow both teams pulled it off, delivering handsome plates of food in 45 minutes.
I brought my camera but didn’t get a chance to take pictures as I was gabbing the whole time. I probably should have snapped pictures of the food when it arrived in front of me at the judges’ table, it just felt a little, oh how shall I say…unseemly. If you’re curious you can have a look here at the Kentucky Science Center’s Instagram page. More pictures will probably go up as they day progresses. For now you can see a shot of the team sponsors. The loser had to go home with a tattoo of the winner’s company on their forehead.
So what was the food like? The whole thing was sort of a blur I must confess. Team 1 delivered an Asian fusion roll-up-type affair with pork, vegetables, citrus and herbs on a pancake, topped with a sauce so complex I got vertigo just listening to the description. It was phenomenal. Team 2 also offered up a pork-based handheld item, and the amazing thing about it was that all the ingredients were nestled in a Chinese steamed bun. How the heck did they manage to make that from scratch in just 45 minutes? That feat alone deserved the win, though the dish also happened to be fabulous. Victory to Team 2.
Both chefs told me later that the big problem was heat. With so few BTU’s on offer it was impossible to sear, sauté or crisp anything. I realized that had Team 1 been able to properly cook — and brown — their meat and pancakes, things could easily have gone their way. Asian food really is hard to pull off with ultra-low heat.
Otherwise there was plenty of fun to be had at the Science Center. Folks in lab coats were incinerating gummy bears in test tubes and reducing marshmallow to wafer thickness by inserting them into containers of liquid nitrogen. Talk about a load of geek fun. Can we do it again tonight?