My Blog

My process and a peak at all the fun I have.

I taught my class at the Royal College of Art in June.  For a full recap, check out the article they published about it here.

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See also: Teaching Pleasuring Your Palate at Stanford

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As part of a class about designing for the plastic injection molding process, I designed, cut molds and shot some napkin rings called the Impaled Napkin Rings series.  Process below.

I first 3D printed some prototypes to see how they worked.  I learned that living hinges do not work with our printer material.  I cut the molds using a HAAS Office Mill OM1.  I had to recut one side as the living hinge at the neck was so small on the first iteration that when the molds separated after shooting they would decapitate the napkin ring (if that makes sense).  I widened the neck and they shot perfectly.

I created a class through the PRL and Stanford Dining.  It’s called Pleasuring Your Palate.  It starts tomorrow night and I’m so excited to be teaching it.

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Pleasuring Your Palate
This workshop will enable you to feel comfortable creating well-designed, cohesive and delicious meals from seasonal healthy ingredients.  You will learn skills based on the culinary tradition of staging, where an aspiring cook learns from the ground up: for example, keeping an organized and stocked kitchen, cleaning greens and preparing cold dishes, and sautéing, frying and roasting. Together, we will transform your perceptions of food from a source of fuel to an exciting design challenge.  You will create your own menus based on seasonality and local availability, and will use human centered design principles to cater to specific needs and experiences.  In addition to teaching applicable skills that you will use every day, this class will offer you a new medium to express your creativity.  

On Sunday I taught a farmers market to table cooking class with the Stanford Cooking Society.  We started at the California Avenue Market and walked through, picking out the ingredients we wanted to prepare for our lunch.  We decided on making fresh green nettle pasta with an asparagus and mint sauce.  Everyone wanted to try sunchokes  so we roasted them with some delicata squash and blanched leaks and made an almond salsa verde to go along with it.  We also decided to make a blood orange, pomelo and little gem salad with citrus vinaigrette.  We headed back to Story House to start cooking.

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A few years ago, I was fortunate to build a strong culinary foundation in some pretty amazing kitchens from Chez Panisse in Berkeley to the Rome Sustainable Food Project in Rome, Italy.  I learned the skills and techniques needed to become the passionate cook that I am today; things like how to blanch vegetables, roast meats, make fresh pastas and compose a beautiful salad.  These and many other techniques became so deeply ingrained that recalling one at the sight of an ingredient became second nature: bright crisp snap peas, blanched, starchy and earthy potatoes, roasted low and slow, lean short ribs with big fat caps, braised for hours.  Meals are like puzzles made up of ingredients and techniques and I love assembling them.

Feeling relatively comfortable with classic cooking, I wanted to explore new frontiers in food.  That’s when I found out about the Anova Precision Cooker.  The sous vide technique has been around for a few decades but to me, it was a foreign tool with a less than positive reputation and the equipment required was out of my price range.  At about 180 bucks, the Anova is a steal compared to home built and commercial sous vide kits.  So, I decided to try it out for myself.

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My initial impression as a designer was, wow, awesome packaging.  It comes in something that looks like a poster tube, black and yellow with the simple ANOVA text logo down the side.  The tube slides open to reveal the top of the device which is a quite stunning angled display, shiny and dark.

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Setting it up is as easy as attaching it the side of a container filled with water using the supplied clamp, plugging it in, setting a temp and pressing play.  I first marveled at the sleek designed housing which encloses the complicated pumps and heating element that keep the water bath circulating at a constant temperature.  It feels sturdy and safe, unlike other hacked together home sous vide kits.  The whole set up took about 45 seconds.  The assistant app is not available yet but it purports to help with cooking times and temperatures.  I found a guide online and decided to try making chicken breasts because I had heard that they are one of the best protein examples that really shine when prepared using the sous vide method.

I set the temperature to 64.5 degrees celsius and pressed play.  The pump whirred to life and a current of water began to swirl in the container.  It took about 40 minutes to temp-up and in the meantime I took out my brined chicken breasts, drained them and allowed them to come up to room temperature.  While the water was heating I used the bath to vacuum seal my chicken in a ziplock bag using a method I read about online.  All the while the ANOVA was clicking up a few degrees each minute.

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It notified me it had hit 64.5 degrees with a beep and I dropped in my sealed chicken.  I set a timer for an hour and a half and walked away.  Something in the design of the device imbued me with a sense of trust and confidence to believe that in just 90 minutes my chicken would be safely and perfectly cooked.

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I busied myself preparing sides and some chicken sauce and when the timer went off, I removed the chicken and quickly seared it in a super hot cast iron pan.  And it was the best chicken breast I have ever tasted.  The texture was perfect, it was incredibly juicy and succulent.

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I’ve since used the Anova Precision Cooker to make eggs and fresh tuna and both were amazing (pics below).  For the price, I think the Anova is going to make a big splash in the home-cooking appliance market.  In a group of products that normally cost 800 to 1000 dollars, this serves the same purpose for less than a quarter the price.  It also enables amateur home cooks and people with almost no culinary experience to produce perfectly cooked dishes.  I recently used the Anova to prepare 20 chicken breasts for a dinner party.  I increased the cooking time slightly to about 110 minutes.  It came out so well that all I could hear for about 5 minutes was the sound of people chewing and saying they had never tasted chicken like it before.

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I have recently become very interested in food education.  I’d love to spread my love for food and cooking to the masses.  I believe Anova is the future of simplified home cooking and that it enables busy young professionals and parents to create delicious and healthy meals almost effortlessly.  From physical construction to the interface it’s a fantastic device.

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a quick exercise in making an infographic about how much and what Americans eat every year.  Info from here and icons from Noun Project.  Made for and best viewed on an iPhone.

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gotta love this ad for Flavor Stone: