Imagine liquid nitrogen smoke emerging from a blender and filling the room like an eerie mist. Enveloping your fare in air-tight containers only to then submerge them in a precisely-calculated bath. And finally, adding substance-altering hydrocolloids to change the texture of even the simplest of ingredients: orange juice. Not normally what goes on in your kitchen, I’m sure, but these are some of the newest and most awe-inspiring cooking techniques emerging in the culinary world. And I got a first-hand look at a cooking class that teaches these cool tricks to every day cooks, or wannabe cooks, like you and me.
Being a food fanatic, cooking is right there in line with my love of food. So brushing up on culinary skills is never a bad idea. But with so many generic cooking classes, learning how to cook Chicken Parmesan doesn’t sound very appealing to me. That’s why I was so excited to hear about the Culinary Academy at the famous Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables. They offer new and comprehensive classes, including everything from the basics to modern cooking techniques. I was thrilled to join one of their classes, and chose to take the Modern Techniques class taught by Chef Jeremiah Bullfrog of GastroPod.
So what exactly are Modern Techniques? Modern Techniques, or as some may call it- New or Modern Cuisine, are unconventional techniques used to cook foods by changing food textures, cooking at different temperatures, infusing with different flavors, or making food-flavored foams. Granted, these techniques have been around for years, but they are slowly beginning to become a publicized sensation as, in many cases, so has food news in general. After being asked by Lourdes Castro, the director of the Biltmore Culinary Academy, Chef Jeremiah joined the team of chefs teaching various classes at the Biltmore Hotel. He says “It’s fun and nice to be in a teaching setting. The Academy is super professional and provides an amazing kitchen. I come on my days off and it’s truly great to be able to pass on a concept you fully understand and teach that to someone else.”
In this particular class, Chef Jeremiah taught us how to cook using the sous-vide (low temperature cooking) in a thermal immersion circulator, flash-freezing ingredients using liquid nitrogen, and using hydrocolloids as thickening and gelling agents to change the textures of certain liquids. Our menu included Sous-Vide Salmon Tartare; Sous-Vide Filet Mignon with a poached egg, asparagus, and an emulsified Hollandaise Sauce; and finally a vanilla ice cream with frozen raspberries, all made with liquid nitrogen. The menu, as well as the detailed instruction, was all mesmerizing and I left the class feeling like an insider on all things modern! My fellow classmates also were very pleased with the class, since the Biltmore offered this unique take on culinary classes. One student, cardiologist Damian Chaupin, stated that the Biltmore Culinary Academy “focuses on topics you’ve never seen before, so although certain techniques look complicated, in fact are quite easy.”
So if you need to brush up on your culinary skills or would like to learn new and exciting techniques, check out the Culinary Academy at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables. They have a wide range of classes including Knife Skills, Techniques in Healthy Cooking, Spanish Tapas, the Do-Ahead Dinner Party, and many more. You just might learn a few things that can help you impress your friends!