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Exclusive Look at the Voltaggio Brothers' Lunch at the 2010 Food & Wine Classic

Top Chef's Voltaggio Brothers Show Us Their Mad Science

For me, one of the highlights of the Food & Wine Classic was a special lunch created by Top Chef winner Michael Voltaggio and his brother Bryan. The luncheon was hosted by Williams-Sonoma in the sleek Aspen eatery N9NE Steakhouse. While it was sunny and hot outside, the cool interior of the underground restaurant was the perfect backdrop to the Voltaggio brothers' modern menu. Using products from a new line that's to be released by Williams-Sonoma this Fall, the brothers demonstrated molecular gastronomy techniques that involved sous vide machines, smoking guns, and liquid nitrogen.

Before the interested eyes of a group of select journalists, Michael turned frozen cubes of cream cheese into a melt-in-your-mouth snow and Bryan cut slices of perfectly cooked harissa lamb, fresh out of vacuum-packed plastic baggies.


Michael, at the far end, prepares the plates for the first course, while Bryan sets up the smoking gun.

The sous vide machine cooks vacuum-packed ingredients in water set at a certain constant temperature.

Michael greets the crowd and Bryan is hard at work.

Michael removes cubes of frozen cream cheese from the freezer, then tosses them with liquid nitrogen. The nitrogen freezes the cream cheese. Michael stirs it quickly.

After freezing the cream cheese, Michael places it in a Vitamix blender and processes it until it has the texture of snow.

To take a closer look at the amazing three-course meal, check out all of my photos after the break.


Michael, at the far end, prepares the plates for the first course, while Bryan sets up the smoking gun.

The sous vide machine cooks vacuum-packed ingredients in water set at a certain constant temperature.

Michael greets the crowd and Bryan is hard at work.

Michael removes cubes of frozen cream cheese from the freezer, then tosses them with liquid nitrogen. The nitrogen freezes the cream cheese. Michael stirs it quickly.

After freezing the cream cheese, Michael places it in a Vitamix blender and processes it until it has the texture of snow.

Bryan explains the smoke machine as he smokes small fillets of salmon. He says it can be used to smoke all sorts of ingredients, from the classic fish to the more experimental blueberry.

The first course was the brothers' take on the classic combination of bagels, cream cheese, and smoked salmon. To the right on the plate is a garbanzo wafer "bagel" chip.

The fresh smoked salmon was served on a caper puree with pickled red onion globules, cream cheese snow, and chives. It was wonderful and, although the flavors were familiar, unlike anything I have ever tasted before.

The boys crafting the second course.

Michael salts the lamb and Bryan plates the couscous.

The second course was harissa lamb with cauliflower "couscous." They  chopped cauliflower until it had the texture and look of couscous, then toasted it on the stove.

The sous vide lamb was placed beside a yolk-like globe of Greek yogurt. It was exotic and delicious; I could not stop eating it!

Bryan tells the crowd how liquid nitrogen turns lemon curd into a crunchy and cool garnish. Michael plates the third course, dessert.

The dessert was the Voltaggios' interpretation of strawberry shortcake. The vanilla-scented spongecake was cooked in a paper cup in the microwave, a tool that Michael declared as "the most underused technology in cooking today."

The microwaved cake was served on compressed strawberries (compressed fruit was everywhere in Aspen) with homemade bean ice cream and lemon curd chips.
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