NRN senior food editor Bret Thorn gives a rundown of the latest news and trends from the culinary world. Tweet thoughts and suggestions to #NRNFoodInsider.
South by Southwest, the annual festival for all things creative, innovative, entrepreneurial, potentially beautiful or all of the above, is underway in Austin, Texas. The event is usually referred to by its Twitter-friendly acronym, SXSW, and if you want to try to track every thought, emotion, blurry picture and observation from anyone who has landed in Austin and is “super psyched for #SXSW,” go ahead and follow that hashtag.
But here’s some of the early food-related news:
Dominique Ansel, inventor of the Cronut — that much-copied croissant-doughnut hybrid that caused people in New York City’s SoHo neighborhood to lose all sense of time as they waited for hours to buy the pastry — will be there, and he’ll be serving a new invention.
The pastry posted this picture on Instagram of his milk-and-cookie shots, which are a chocolate chip cookie baked into the shape of a cup and then filled with milk.
Ansel told Eater.com that the item was inspired by his first (and quite recent) sampling of an Oreo cookie, which he was told to have with milk — a combination he said did not seem obvious to him as a Frenchman. Considering how many people have had Oreo cookies with milk without inventing any type of edible crockery, some unique bit of ingenuity in Ansel’s brain must also have been at work.
Ansel enjoyed a reputation as an excellent and rather conventional pastry chef before the Cronut thing happened, and he has continued to innovate since then, not always with success. He introduced frozen s’mores last July — vanilla ice cream enrobed in a chocolate wafer and a stretchy, gooey marshmallow-like substance skewered and set on fire to order — and they failed to thrive. They were reportedly hard to eat.
Also at SXSW, IBM has a truck serving computer-generated food. Or at least the recipes are computer-generated.
IBM calls this type of recipe development “cognitive computing.” The Business Insider’s Dylan Love provides more detail. He says the recipes were developed by Watson, the clever supercomputer that was a Jeopardy contestant. Watson somehow uses algorithms and big data to determine what chemical compounds are in food, why people like them, and what other foods they might like.
This video explains it further:
The food preparation is being overseen by chefs James Briscione and Michael Laiskonis of the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City. Here’s Laiskonis, who is the former executive pastry chef of New York fine-dining landmark Le Bernardin, making a Vietnamese apple kebab at SXSW:
Contact Bret Thorn at email@example.com.
Follow him on Twitter: @foodwriterdiary