It takes more than skilled hands, sharp knives, and a creative mind to power New Yorks restaurants. There's also some heavy equipment that deserves periodic recognition.
Todays dessert alchemists draw from a considerable arsenal in their battle against conventional cake and ice cream. But the real secret weapon for many of these artisans is the Pacojet, a kind of high-tech blender. Pichet Ong was one of the earliest adopters of the Pacojet and uses a customized one at P*ong for all of his ice creams, sorbets, and ices.
Its like a blender on speed, Ong explains. Everything that goes in it gets sort of pulverized so fine that it almost emulsifies into shape. Extremely sharp blades moving at high speed shave the frozen material into minute slices, breaking down their physical integrity. The Pacojet allows Ong to create, for example, a kind of very fine ice called snow that would be impossible without it. (If youre looking to upgrade your Snoopy Sno-Cone machine, a Pacojet will run you only $3,450.) But the chef says that you really see its value in his ricotta ice cream with orange zest. After I make the ice-cream base, I spin the orange zest into it with the machine, and it gives a beautiful light-orange hue to the dish, extracting the oils from the orange without any little hard bits coming through. I love my Pacojet. There are things you can do with it that no ice-cream machine or blender would ever allow you to do.