As the Huden Dining Hall chef prepares for the lunch rush, he whips up a bowl of dough that is then placed in the steamer, then cut into buns. The chef, Tyler Williams, with help from his colleague Delores Dow, then takes the steamed buns and puts them on a pan to get the them ready for the dressing part of the fun.
The steamed bun is now opened and ready for the barbecue pork and toppings, with a little dab of cilantro.
These buns way different from your usual buns made in the oven.
The lunch being prepared March 10 was part of an “Elements” promotion at Huden, which will happen once to twice a week until the end of April.
Sodexo officials are trying to create awareness of molecular gastronomy, which is the application or study of scientific principles and practices in cooking and food preparation.
It’s also a way for the chefs to play and have fun while making the food, said Rob Macfarlane, Sodexo general manager.
They get to play with the food in cool ways you may never had thought of, he said. For example, they can take Nutella and make it powder, but once it hits your mouth it goes right back to the Nutella we love. It’s so simple and fun, and students can do it right at home with a kit they can win as part of the promotion. All you need is Nutella, maltodextrin powder, and a recipe for Nutella powder.
Macfarlane said that food science is the way of the future and really fun to work with. It is also a way to teach students the science behind food. One common molecular gastronomy food is olive oil, McFarlane said. He said you can take the olive oil and turn it into powder and then put it on the food, but the minute it hits your mouth, it is olive oil again. Really in simple terms molecular gastronomy is taking food and changing the form of it, McFarlane said.
“Next meal is going to be a balsamic caviar salad,” he said. “You take balsamic vinegar, sugar, and add an alginate, which is just algae – it is flavorless, and then take that and put it into a sodium bath and solidify it into a ball, until you bite into it and then it is liquid,” he said.
During the March 10 event, students were nervous to try the first elements meal, an Asian pork sandwich. Most didn’t try it. Many walked past it looking nervous and questioning if they should try it or not. The students who did try it had mixed emotions.
Romello Lindsey was nervous – but he loved it. Lindsey said he eats a lot of Asian food, “so this is right up my alley.”
“The noodles are very good,” he said after taking his first bit.
Erin Wood, however, said she was not too keen on it.
“I didn’t like the food. Just a weird texture,” Wood said.
She was not discouraged though, and said she is very interested in the whole science and food combination because she is a science major.
McFarlane said Huden is always planning cool and fun things to do with food to keep the student population happy. Huden does these events twice a semester and each event is to teach students the history and science behind food, but in a fun way.
“There are a lot of science students here and they will have some fun with and see a lot of things that they are not used to seeing in forms that they are not use to seeing,” he said.
As part of the promotion, students have a chance to enter their name in an online raffle for a chance to win one out of 15 deluxe molecular gastronomy kits. These kits include recipe books and DVD’s, tools, and food additives and ingredients to help bring molecular gastronomy to your home. Go to the website to enter the sweepstakes is www.elementssweepstakes.com.