may not have clinched the title of Bravo's Top Chef, but the season four runner-up will have you know that he's getting on just fine, thanks. Using the progressive techniques that made him a hit with reality-TV-obsessed foodies, he's currently the creative director of Flip Burger Boutiques
, a newish restaurant chain with locations in Atlanta and Birmingham (spots in Washington, D.C., and Nashville to come.)
But never mind the burgers -- the signature here is the milkshake, which is made to order using liquid nitrogen. The chemical, which freezes ingredients on contact, is a popular tool among a growing number of chefs, but can it make the leap from restaurants to the home kitchen? Blais says yes, but with one caveat: Please have at least half a brain.
Asylum adds its own disclosure as well: Fooling around with a cryogenic fluid that registers at -320 degrees Fahrenheit is no joke. But should you dare make the attempt, Blais gives us a few tips on how to use the stuff (and maybe impress a date in the process.)
Asylum: How Would You Get Your Hands on Some?
Blais: "Feel free to contact me via my Web site
if you have questions, but hey, if you don't like me, there are alternatives. First, you can call up an industrial gas company or a place that sells welding supplies. You might want to tell them you're doing a little home remodeling, though. Explaining that you're going to cook with it might scare them.
"Another option is to ask someone at a university science lab. Or maybe you have a friend who teaches a junior high chemistry class who can help you out. Of course, if you're really adventurous -- although I wouldn't actually recommend it -- you can find liquid nitrogen tanks on street corners in big cities like New York. If you're so inclined, tap into it."
Don't Freeze Your Digits Off
"Every once in a while you hear about some gifted kid who goes to science camp and makes the mistake of drinking a shot of liquid nitrogen
– apparently book sense and common sense are unrelated. Think of it this way -- liquid nitrogen is as cold as frying oil is hot. If you're a novice cook, you want to do your research, have goggles and elbow-length gloves on hand, and take all of the right safety precautions. Keep your hands in a bowl of liquid nitrogen long enough and yes, you're fingers will freeze and snap off."
Impress Your Ladyfriend
"You don't need to know any fancy techniques to make a dish with liquid nitrogen. This is the ultimate science-guy-who-wants-to-impress-someone-but-is-fudging-it recipe:
1. Buy your favorite ice cream at the store.
2. Let it melt (in its container) on the counter.
3. Pour the melted base into a stand mixer.
4. Let it whip, and while it's doing that, slowly add in the nitrogen.
5. When is it ready? When it's ready! Look for the same consistency as regular ice cream.
"You can even use liquid nitrogen to clean up after the meal. Sprinkle some on the floor and it collects all of the particles. It's easier than a vacuum.
"Will the goggles kill the mood? Not if your girl is into the sexy-nerd look. Hey, while you're at it, throw on a lab coat with nothing underneath."