Harvard SEAS lecture 11/28/11, Bill Yosses and Najat Kaanache

Subject? Emulsions, foams, and gels.

Honestly, I don’t have too much to say about this lecture. As my lecture buddy Judy said, “it was disjointed.” There were some really good things going on, but the presentation didn’t feel like it was quite ready.  It started out strong, and then it sort of loss direction.  (Apologies to Bill Yosses, the White House Pastry chef.)

I could watch Najat Kaanache cook all day long though. lol! Najat, who originally hails from Morocco is Spanish but of Moroccan descent, started her professional cooking background in Holland with someone who once worked for Heston Blumenthal. Eventually, she landed jobs at Alinea, Noma, French Laundry, and finally wound up at El Bulli with Ferran Adria. During the whole presentation, she was constantly playing with liquid nitrogen, nitrous chargers, powders, and who knows what else. She demonstrated the use of Manitol, a sugar alcohol, that you melt at 300/572F. It’s sweet like sugar but it doesn’t brown. She dipped frozen concoctions into it just to get a thin coating of Manitol on the sweets. Eventually, the original mixture melted inside the shaped Manitol. Not something you can do at home, but it’s got some cool cooking applications to it.

Najat also made some sorbets using juice and liquid nitrogen.  (Stir furiously, then let it melt a bit before serving.)

Bill Yosses showed off some equipment – a Thermomix and a Paco Jet. I don’t know if I’d have any use for a Paco Jet, but I always wondered about the Thermomix.

We got to taste olive oil spheres.

What I was really hoping to taste was the taste-film inside the box of Visionaire, issue no. 47.
Per a blurb on Amazon, “experience 12 original flavors produced exclusively for Visionaire in the form of fast-dissolving breath-strips in individually marked, custom-designed cases that correspond to images printed in an accompanying hardcover book.” The flavors are Youth, Art, Mommy, Life, Luxury, Feast, Guilty, Adrenaline, Summer, Power, Orgasm, and Exotic. Alas, the box never made it to me. Either we ran out of tasting strips or someone took off with it. *sigh*

And with that, the lectures are done for the semester.  Ferran Adria is still to come but (although free) tickets must be picked up beforehand.  That lecture is on Sunday.  Tickets can be picked up at the Harvard Ticket Office in Holyoke Center, 1350 Mass Ave, Cambridge, Ground Floor.  Tickets are available starting at noon tomorrow, limit is 2 per person.  It’s unlikely that I’ll be going.  I don’t work anywhere near the ticket office so it’s kind of a pain for me.

Reference links:
http://elbulli-arco.blogspot.com/ (related to Najat Kaanache)
http://www.morewhimsy.com/ (looks to be Najat’s official site, but it’s under construction) Per Najat herself, use the previous link.
http://www.visionaireworld.com/issues.php?id=47

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5 thoughts on “Harvard SEAS lecture 11/28/11, Bill Yosses and Najat Kaanache

  1. The flavored films were not nearly as good as I was expecting (similar to the lecture). They tasted bitter/bland. I had power and youth. Youth was a little better (tasted a little fruity), but power made me feel weak.

    • I read on the Visionaire OHP that Power was “Taste sea spray and sweat.” Not… really appetizing, lol! But Exotic (mango, orange blossom, pepper) and Feast (egg and chips) might have been fun.

      For a moment I thought that Visionaire 47 could make for a fun tasting party, but some of the flavors sound better than others.

  2. I just Love to thank you for visiting the lecture! Was a total Honor for me to be there I know that the big Chefs go to Harvard, but I did put my heart to help understand my Background and The Passion I Have in My Heart!!
    Mikan Thank you Really! Keep on enjoin food, is part of existence !!

    • No, * thank you * for coming to the Harvard public lectures! Watching you cook is like magic. I hope you come to Cambridge/Boston again in the future for more demos. (^_^)

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