A Glimpse Inside Jet City Gastrophysics’ First Modernist dinner


For the past year, I’ve been meeting with Jethro Odom and Eric Rivera several times a month to challenge ourselves to learn modernist cooking. We call ourselves Jet City Gastrophysics, a name that we use with a healthy dose of levity.  Part of our mission has been to learn a new set of fundamentals – working with hydrocolloids and emulsifiers, cooking sous vide, using a centrifuge, spherification, using liquid nitrogen and dry ice, experimenting with transglutaminase (meat glue), making powders and mastering dehydration, pressure cooking, and a whole lot of deep frying.  These techniques are being employed by a small but growing handful of chefs worldwide, but by very few restaurants locally

For the past 5 months, our goal has been to craft a menu that lets us showcase what we’ve learned, and present a dining experience that is unique and distinct from anything you’ll find elsewhere.  We’ve named this project our “Thesis Dinner”.  Earlier this year, we got the official word that we would have the opportunity to host some very special guests in April (but more on that later).  With an applewood fire lit under our asses, we presented the first run through of our menu this week to a small group of guinea pigs, none of whom experienced any form of foodborne illness (or vertigo).  Below is a small glimpse at a few of the dishes we’ve been working on, with much more to come in the next few months. 

Above: Shrimp Cocktail.  Restructured shrimp on a sesame tuille with clementine, chili oil and grapefruit zest.  Underneath is cocktail sauce for sous vide shrimp. 

Fried Egg.  Sous vide egg yolk on a cilantro stem nest.  Hollandaise, Sriracha salt.


Duck prosciutto (care of Eric Rivera).  Olive oil and edible flowers.


Take out Pho with Playful Accompaniments (not shown).


Sweet Sushi: lima bean gel, coconut rice, nori.


Keep It Simple: Mixed Grill and Roasted Vegetables

mixed grill 
I really love playing host, but let’s face it, some nights I just want to keep things simple.  Here’s a great menu for a casual evening among friends, where we’ve put down our saffron and beurre blanc and picked up only the most basic ingredients: salt, pepper and olive oil.  You’ll be amazed at how satisfying such an elementary meal can be.

Total Kitchen Time: 1 hr
Makes: Your work seem effortless to 6 awed guests

Mixed Grill (pictured above):

  • 2 Free-range organic chickens
  • 2 lbs. uncooked bratwurst
  • 4 tbsp. olive oil (or canola oil)
  • kosher salt and freshly-ground pepper
  1. Preheat your oven to 400°F and place the top rack in the lower third of the oven.  This will be your chicken oven.
  2. Preheat a second oven (even better, your toaster oven) to 450°F.  Place the bratwurst directly on your oven rack or on a wire rack in the oven and bake for about 5 minutes until the top side has browned.  Flip the links and brown for another 5 minutes.
  3. Turn the heat on your brats (long “a” sound) down to 200°F and let them continue to roast, turning occasionally, until you’re ready to eat (or about an hour and a half).
  4. Rinse the chickens and pat them very, very dry with paper towels.  Make sure that all the nooks and crannies, including the inside cavity, are dry.  The reason?  Crispy skin comes from dry birds that don’t create steam as they cook (thanks, Thomas Keller!)
  5. Truss the birds and salt liberally.  Pepper them to taste, then rub the skin with oil.  The oil will add flavor, but also act as a conductor to help us in our quest of an all-over tan.
  6. Preheat 2 large skillets [may I recommend cast iron] over high heat until they have just started to smoke.  Place one bird in each skillet, breast side up.  Transfer the skillets to the oven 400°F and place side by side.  Roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until a thermometer inserted into the breast reads 150°F.
  7. After the birds have rested for 10 minutes, carve them into quarters and place on a large platter.  Cut each bratwurst in half on a bias and place around the chicken.  Serve to an adoring crowd.

tossing vegetables 
For the roasted vegetables, chop yellow squash, zucchini, brussels sprouts and onions into 3/4″ chunks and toss with olive oil, kosher salt and pepper.  Roast on a baking sheet at 400°F for 25 minutes, or until golden brown spots of deliciousness appear.

beet and goat cheese salad
Round out your meal with a light beet and goat cheese salad.  Toss arugula and baby spinach with high quality olive oil, champagne vinegar and salt and pepper in a large bowl.  Top with crumbled goat cheese and sliced, boiled beets.

Serve this meal with a sweet wine such as a Gewürztraminer or an Alsatian Riesling.  You’ll look like a culinary hero, but for you, this was just “whipping something up”.  Bravo.