Ben Roche (left) and Homaro Cantu host Future Food, eight episodes of spine-tingling fun with science in the kitchen
Ten reasons to watch (whetting your appetite is not one of them)
TELEVISION We’re not sure whose idea it was to fuse the molecular gastronomy crew at Moto, a noted restaurant in Chicago’s West Loop, with a television series about saving the earth through better dining, but the result is Future Food, which premieres tonight at 9 p.m. (central time) on the eco-lifestyle cable channel Planet Green. Homaro Cantu, the restaurant’s executive chef, and Ben Roche, his right-hand chemist and Moto’s pastry chef, anchor the proceedings.
In the first episode, the pair challenges the rest of the cooks in the kitchen to create seafood out of more sustainable, less endangered foodstuffs, such as soybean-based tofu or fruit. The example by Cantu and Roche: tuna "sashimi" that is actually frozen, compressed watermelon. (The recipe calls for two tablespoons something called Envision—which, according to the Planet Green website, is "a sugar derivative which masks sweetness to make things taste more savory." Sounds delicious.)
We’ll be watching—and, if you need more persuading, here are our top ten reasons to tune in:
10. The show is based in Chicago. Eat it, New York and San Francisco.
9. A future episode features edible packing peanuts that taste like Creamsicles. Or popcorn. Moms everywhere will be screaming, silently in their heads: "Don’t eat that!"
8. This show’s premise is far less depressing than the premiere episode of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, on ABC, in which Oliver tries to improve the eating habits of the obesity-stricken town of Huntington, West Virginia, where elementary-school students couldn’t identify a tomato. Seriously?
7. Some of these kooky recipes are available online. Finally, a use for that vacuum flask of liquid nitrogen!
6. Keep track of how many times Cantu expresses his desire for diners to "go on a flavor trip." A new drinking game?
5. Get hooked now. We hear rumors of a "healthy junk food" episode.
4. The chefs use a fully equipped science lab—complete with tanks of nitrogen gas, helium, and liquid nitrogen—for their food experiments but admit to having no actual training in chemistry or lab work. This could get interesting.
3. Watch Chicagoans stick it to the chefs as the products of each week’s food challenge are taken to the streets for critiques from average citizens. Cantu: "This is a rare whitefish." Man: "No, this is tofu!"
2. Shots of Chicago. The city looks pretty.
1. We may finally settle the enduring office debate, "Does Homaro Cantu wear eyeliner?"
THE BUZZ ABOUT FUTURE FOOD
- A blog post at epicurious.com by Josh Friedland, 3/24/10.
- A review of the first episode by Curt Wagner, at RedEye’s Show Patrol blog, 3/29/10.
- The Metromix story by M. Kathleen Pratt, 3/30/10.
- Steph Yiu’s five reasons she can’t wait to watch the show in RedEye, 3/30/10.
Photographs: Planet Green/David Nicolas