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Les Petits Chefs make rhubarb in textures with John Placko

Rhubarb in textures John Placko on eatlivetravelwrite.comI love that when Chef John Placko of the Modern Culinary Academy (the guy who has dined at El Bulli in Spain and Noma in Denmark – read his impressive bio here) comes to work with Les Petits Chefs that he thinks big. Like me, John believes that with the right kind of guidance, kids can pretty much do anything in the kitchen – as evidenced by his previous visits.  I mean, one time, he showed them how to make sous vide caramelized bananas with coconut gel and snow and another time, it was a plate composed of melon caviar, yoghurt sheets, carbonated strawberries, cranberry snow and chocolate micro sponge.  Amazing, right?

This week we got to watch John work his molecular magic once again – the marriage of science and food and wowing the boys with his magic gadgets and ingredients. John sent me the recipe for “Rhubarb in textures” and I knew the boys would love making all the components – white chocolate snow, sous vide poached rhubarb, rhubarb foam made from the poaching liquid that would then be brûléed, and a liquid nitrogen rhubarb ice cream. Ambitious? Maybe. But totally do-able. John is super organised and such a great teacher – he totally “gets” how little boys work and had everything organised in stations before the boys arrived in the lab and then had them sitting down with aprons on, washed hands and recipes in hand reading them over before we got started.  Because if you have an organised setup, you’re definitely setting yourself up for success when cooking with kids.

We distributed the stations amongst the boys and everyone just got to work. I love that they found themselves working with very different types of ingredients, techniques and cooking equipment but it didn’t stop them from just getting on with it.  For what seemed like the first time in a very long time, we actually followed the recipes to the letter! And, you know, we had a mission – to get to the point where we would make the liquid nitrogen ice cream. John gave them a sneak peek at the beginning of the class…

John Placko working with liquid nitrogen on eatlivetravelwrite.com(So. Cool.)

So we got to work. First, we poached the rhubarb in the sous vide machine, drained the liquid and chopped the pieces in “an attractive fashion”…

Poached rhubarb in the sous vide machine on eatlivetravelwrite.comWe mixed melted white chocolate with maltodextrin to make SNOW!

Making white chocolate snow with John Placko on eatlivetravelwrite.comChopped some fresh rhubarb to make a purée…

Making stewed rhubarb on eatlivetravelwrite.comAnd then whipped the rhubarb poaching liquid with VersaWhip

Making rhubarb foam on eatlivetravelwrite.comWhich we piped artistically onto plates…

Piping rhubarb snow on eatlivetravelwrite.comAnd then we got to use the brûlée torch on the foam…

Kids bruleeing rhubarb foam on eatlivetravelwrite.com(Best. Class. Ever.)

At this point the boys got to plate the foam with some of the poached rhubarb and the “snow”…

Plating rhubarb in textures on eatlivetravelwrite.com(um, how old are these guys again? These plates are so professional looking!)

But wait, there’s more. John showed the boys how to combine yoghurt with the rhubarb purée and then add liquid nitrogen to make quick ice cream!

Making liquid nitrogen icecream on eatlivetravelwrite.comThe boys were fascinated…

Liquid nitrogen icecream by John Placko on eatlivetravelwrite.comAnd then the pièce de résistance – the finished plates…

Kids plating rhubarb in textures with John Placko on eatlivetravelwrite.comI can’t even tell you how impressed I was to see this. Each boy plated his dish independently and I think I’m safe in saying none of these would be out of place in a restaurant. But the proof, as they say, is in the pudding eating…

Happy kids empty plate on eatlivetravelwrite.comYup, for the most part, the boys LOVED this plate. Not everyone was a fan of the rhubarb but everyone tasted most of the components. But more than the eating – the creation of this dish was so much fun. And proof of what kids can do if you give them a chance. I have to imagine that a few of the boys have already asked their parents if they can buy a tank of liquid nitrogen – sorry about that!

John – thank you so much for an(other) amazing session. We are so lucky to have generous chefs like you who are willing to come and share your talent, knowledge and gadgets with these boys (and me!).  We hope you might want to come back next year!

If you’re interested in checking out some of John’s “magic” ingredients and equipment, you can buy Powder for Texture products at Nella Cucina or check out the Powder for Texture catalogue online and don’t forget to follow John Placko on Twitter.

This was the last Petits Chefs post until September (I KNOW – where did that year go?) but don’t worry – I’ll be back in the Fall with another great term of activities. Thank you for reading these posts this year. They are honestly true highlights of each and every week for me.

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Canadian readers: Win a copy of Ruth Reichl’s “Delicious!” Ends Sunday June 15th 2014 6pm EST. Details here.

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8 Responses to Les Petits Chefs make rhubarb in textures with John Placko

  1. Cher June 12, 2014 at 21:35 #

    This is. So. Stinking. Awesome.
    Loved this one! Those pictures on Instagram had me smiling.

  2. Mr. Neil June 13, 2014 at 08:29 #

    Too funny – as I was reading this, I was going to add a sly comment to the affect “I wonder how many parents were asked to purchase a tub of liquid nitrogen”. You beat me to it. :-)

    John is such a wonderful chef to share his fun, and knowledge, with the boys. Never mind the boys – I would have liked to come and participate!

    I especially like the plate that resembles a geoduck…

    well done, boys: great way to end the year.

  3. Sally - My Custard Pie June 15, 2014 at 12:38 #

    I adore what you do with Les Petits Chefs – this is super awesome.

  4. Geoff June 16, 2014 at 19:10 #

    These LPC posts have been a marvel this year, Mardi.
    Great credit to you and to the boys.
    As we say ‘down under’, it’s always good “to have a go”…. the LPCs did that.
    Great year, great results.
    I’ll miss them over the next weeks and months.

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