Archive for August, 2011

Academy and EAT Honolulu create El Bulli experience

August 30th, 2011

Nadine Kam photos

The Honolulu Academy of Arts and EAT Honolulu presented an “El Bulli” Bento during a food and film pairing to mark the screening of the documentary “El Bulli: Cooking in Progress,” capturing the work that went on in Ferran Adrià’s famed restaurant before he shut it down last month. A map below describes the dishes.

In the spirit of Spanish chef Ferran Adrià’s revolutionary restaurant El Bulli, those who attended the screening of the documentary “El Bulli: Cooking in Progress”Aug. 27 at the Doris Duke Theatre at the Honolulu Academy of Arts had the option of partaking in a food and wine pairing featuring the molecular gastronomy techniques that brought Adrià international renown.

Diners were presented with a “bento box” comprising nine tasting portions of dishes prepared by EAT Catering & Cafe’s executive chef David Passanisi and sous chef Dirk Thomas. These ranged from the local (Spam musubi terrine and seared Kulana Farms Big Island sirloin with Asian pear and shoyu pudding) to Mediterranean inspired (prosciutto San Danielle with organic olive oil spread and melon caviar).

It’s always interesting to taste food prepared in new ways, such as tzatziki delivered in sphere form to accompany a lamb gyro, and a Kahuku corn panna cotta accompanied by bacon crumbs and Parmesan “air.”

Alive Mind Cinema
El Bulli’s “Disappearing Ravioli” of pine nut essence. When dipped into liquid, the potato starch wrap dissolves before the pine nut liquid hits the tongue.

Although the merging of science and culinary art is what brought the restaurant international attention since 1987, the film shed light on Adrià’s process, that begins with shuttering his restaurant half the year so that he and his staff can devote their hours to experimentation.

Their work space looks more like a science lab than kitchen. It is as if they are willing to go back to infancy and abandon all the technique cataloged in Larousse Gastronomique, and all their knowledge of ingredients, to relearn everything from scratch. Each ingredient is chopped, dissected and examined anew, as if they had never been seen, tasted or used it before. Therefore they are able to appreciate that, when separated, the gills of mushrooms resemble individual leaves.

Led by chef de cuisine Oriol Castro, ingredients are then boiled, baked, sauteed, fried, pressure-cooked, etc., with oil, without, with water only, etc., to determine the best ways to coax out their flavor, and to develop alternative forms—liquids, gels, foam, air and spheres—of serving them.

Alive Mind CinemaFerran Adrià tastes an oil-and-water cocktail.

The trailer: Like art, the El Bulli experience transcends food to create an experience that evokes emotional response.

Deconstruction was one aspect of the kitchen’s work, and one that Adrià—determined to never repeat himself—had abandoned by the time the documentarians arrived. The key theme of the meal in progess in the film is water, and at one point, Adrià marveled at the irony of guests relaying their once-in-lifetime dining experience to friends by telling them, “I went to El Bulli and had water.”

Each step in the process is carefully documented and photographed, and assigned stars. Adriá sniffs and tastes his staff’s work, and by the time the crew reassembles in the restaurant, the menu is still a work in progress, but somehow, a theme arises, and the dishes—a merging of the best of flavors and techniques arising from the six months of experimentation—begin to take form.

The meal and movie added up to a perfect marriage and I regret never having made it to Spain to experience firsthand the work of the man who reshaped the way we think about food in the 21st century.

EAT Catering & Café is planning a fall equinox El Bulli-inspired 24-course menu in late September.

The Bento Box map.

Gina Caruso, film curator at the Doris Duke Theatre, introduced EAT Honolulu executive chef David Passanisi prior to the screening of “El Bulli: Cooking in Progress.”

The tzatziki sphere was a novel accompaniment to a mini gyro.

I liked the Kahuku corn panna cotta, left, but the Parmesan air, not so much.

You can spot the pearls of melon caviar under the proscuitto.

Martin Yan drops into Jade Dynasty

August 23rd, 2011

Nadine Kam photos

Martin Yan shows a dish of garlic chicken he prepared for an audience of media, Yelpers and foodies earlier today, Aug. 22.

Martin Yan insists he’s not a workaholic, but on a two-day “vacation” in Hawaii, he dropped in on friends Alan Ho and Ave Kwok at Jade Dynasty restaurant at Ala Moana Center to present a Chinese cooking demonstration for an audience of media, vocal Yelpers and foodies.

“Everytime I come out to Hawaii, I get chefs together to have lunch and dinner to renew our friendship.”

Earlier, he said he had also caught up with chefs Roy Yamaguchi and Alan Wong.

“People say I’m a workaholic, but I don’t consider this work. I consider this fun,” he said of his presentation, in which he showed how to debone a chicken in 18 seconds, and how to chop a bell pepper so there are enough pieces “to feed a village.”

The renowned television chef just opened a restaurant in Beijing, which offers Peking duck, Dungeness crab and focuses on hand-pulled noodles prepared before guests eyes.

“It’s affordable, so I can afford to eat in a restaurant,” he said.

Another restaurant, M.Y. China, is set to open in San Francisco during Chinese New Year 2012, and he’s encouraging local fans of Chinese fare to visit.

After the presentation, Jade Dynasty presented some of its newest dishes, which included delicious, chewy hand-pulled noodles, pan-fried corn and seafood patties, pan-seared seafood tofu, tea-smoked shrimp, and Dynasty No. 1 chicken with ginger sauce, Snow Mountain char siu buns and dessert of Spring Mountain coconut buns.

Yan with Jade Dynasty’s Alan and Sylvia Ho.

Yan greeted fans at every table, including Yorie Watanabe, left, and Shino Nakajima.

Tea-smoked shrimp were on the seven-course menu. These disappeared fast.

The post-lunch, pre-dinner meal stared with pan-seared seafood tofu.

Linda Low shows dessert of Spring Mountain coconut buns tinged with green tea.

Nine winners of a raffle received copies of Yan’s cookbook, which he signed, here for Yorie Watanabe.

Yan with fellow chef Titus Chan.