Plenty of people submitted ideas for our Marcel's Quantum Kitchen contest, and in the end, it was tough to choose only one winning entry. Commenter Annalee suggested an episode devoted to phosphorescent foods, something that surely would have had a better chance at winning if Annalee had given us any practical tips on achieving this effect (it would be killer in Alien ice cream). Lots of people suggested edible cocktails, Willy Wonka themes, and modern updates on classic Chinese dishes. We even had commenter Foffee, who promised that his or her three-comment submission for an episode devoted to breakup food ("The hollandaise is broken? Yeah. I did that on purpose ... Because you broke us apart.") wasn't based on a true story, a point about which we're still not entirely convinced.
In the end, though, it was commenter Barmar, whose idea for a theme called "Sounds Delicious!" won us over. It wasn't just the entry's altruistic leanings (it was suggested that the episode could benefit the NY Philharmonic, a glee club, or a school for the blind), or its thoroughness, or even its genuine uniqueness that got us — though all three of those factors certainly played a part. In the end, what really pushed us over the edge on this was Barmar's caveat that Marcel wouldn't be able to use Pop Rocks — something that hadn't even occurred to us as totally obvious until it was mentioned. Below, the full winning comment:
Theme: Sounds delicious!
The idea is that we rely mostly on sight, smell and taste of food, so this puts the emphasis on sounds. If this were one of Marcel's episodes, the set-up could be a benefit for the NY Philharmonic, a band, a glee club, etc (or, as my lovely bf suggested, a benefit for a School for the Blind. Nice.)
Sample dishes (caveat: no using pop-rocks, thats practically cheating on this):
* Whistling Garlic Whistles--As a side to a protein, grilled garlic whistles served wrapped around veggie rings stacked in cone, such as onions, on a fajita plate (so that it arrives hot) and then tableside have water spritzed under so that it literally whistles on its way up the cone (think if benihana went high-end)
* Wine that Whines
* Creme fraiche "ice cube" dropped in a hot soup (e.g., buttersquash, fresh pea) so that it makes the cracking sound as it melts
* Unpopped popcorn kernels contained in edible wrapper (dough wrapper or veggie, such as lettuce leaf) that when put on top or inside other plated elements, creates enough steam to pop the kernels post-serving
* Cut a leek lengthwise to create a rectangle or panel and steam/saute, poke very tiny holes in it and plate it hanging over a protein, pouring a sauce on top so that it "leaks" through the holes, dressing/saucing the protein and making a dripping noise as it falls
* Dessert garnish: blow up bubblegum bubble (via syringe, not chewing) and then preserve it...such as liquid nitrogen, sugar glaze that hardens, maybe even deep fry, so that it pops when cut into
* A chicken dish that clucks: okay, I have no idea how to make this happen, but that's what Marcel's job is, right?
p.s. congratulations, grub street, on getting me to finally sign up for a NYMag commenter account after all these years of reading!
So, congratulations to you, too, Barmar, and thanks to everyone who entered. Make sure to check out the season finale of Marcel's Quantum Kitchen, airing tonight on Syfy at 10 p.m., 9 p.m. central.