Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Who freezes popcorn?

Garrett Popcorn event in NYC

So I randomly got involved with Garrett popcorn. Garrett is a nostalgic gourmet popcorn company based out of Chicago, and recently just opened up a few shoppes in NYC. My mission was to help develop a summer time treat featuring their product, and with the request of using liquid nitrogen, we decided to develop “popcornsicles”

Now many people will think that dipping a popcorn ball on a stick in liquid nitrogen is crazy, and groundbreaking, and well, it is I guess, but it’s also something science teachers have been doing for years. I only address this, because someone, who has way too much time is going to find out that many creative chefs have played around with popcorn and liquid nitrogen, and then someone is going to say he stole that, she did that first, and here we go with the never ending shit storm that the haters bring to the table. Any time more than 1 chef has a similar idea that involves very creative cooking people rush to call him a thief. But no one does this for French fries ?

Off topic, I know.... but if you research some very old science material and work books, you will stumble across these things, like for example, Ferran Adria’s caviar. Now, of course these textbooks don’t have them flavored with apple, or packaged, but you get the point.

So during the 4 days in NYC this past week, a lot happened.

Me and Billy, one of my sous chefs served over 4,000 popcornsicles for free, to everyone ranging from media to, well, honestly, the homeless. It was a great undertaking, and a great experiment for me, as it proved that people easily embrace creative cooking when combined with a familiar flavor. It was very easy to give away a caramel and cheese popcorn ball, even though it was smoking and dipped in liquid nitrogen. Most people find liquid nitrogen scary and/or dangerous. But people know caramel and popcorn, and it made the risk of experiencing something new less intimidating. If we served the popcorn w/o the nitrogen but with an unusual flavor profile, it would not have been received as well. Just some thoughts, but useful ones to me, as I do feel super creative cooking will only grow if it can tip into the mainstream.
I met with a well known publishing house who contacted me in regards to putting together a book. This is crazy, I have always wanted to do this, and also just crazy that they contacted me.
I pitched a television show to a major executive for a major network. I can’t go into it much further, but I couldn’t scrape the Seinfeld episode out of my mind where they pitch what is basically the Seinfeld show to NBC. Also, while we were in Jamaica, Mark and I came up with a
television show based on our driver, called “Driving with Mr. Ricos” or the working title in Jamaica of course “ Soon come...” Even though I was pitching a food show, I figured if it wasn’t going well, that “ Soon come...” would be my last resort, and maybe a way to lighten up the pitch…..
We marched around NYC a lot. And I realized that I don’t just miss being in NYC, but that I need to be in NYC more often. I was literally just running into so many people who write for that magazine, or represent that company, or run those events, or operate those restaurants.
Bullfrog & Baum rock the house…
And we appeared on the TODAY show. Now I’ve done a bit of TV, Top chef, Iron chef, a lot of local stuff, but the TODAY show is like a pretty big deal to me. Needless to say, I was a touch intimidated, as the digital preview to the show read. Morgan Freeman, Meryl Streep, Heidi Klum, and Richard Blais... Richard who ?
I walked by Heidi, couldn’t get enough nerve to say hello, I bumped square into Matt Lauer, and then of course I did the bit with Hoda and Kathie Lee. I grew up with Kathie Lee man, that’s crazytown…

So the Garrett event went well. I hope they invite me to do more work with the brand, they are good people for sure.


Anonymous said...

I had one of your popcorn sticks, they were good, but if that is all the food that I eat of yours i will be sorely disappointed.

You got something pretty special there Blais, your pretty freaking awesome!

Stefan said...

What a cool concept. Me and a few friends keep talking about getting ambitious and ordering some liquid N and cooking up some stuff.
It was great to see you on the Today show!