And presenting Ian Kleinman as Willy Wonka...

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I heard this week from Ian Kleinman -- our own personal Mr. Wizard, the man who brought molecular gastronomy to Westminster and blew the heads clean off almost everyone who was lucky enough to walk through the doors of O's Steak and Seafood when he was running his molecular gastronomy tasting menus there. But Kleinman was laid off from his chef's gig at O's this fall, and took some time to relax, unwind and spend time with his family.

Well, he's apparently done with that. Because now he's started a catering company called The Inventing Room.

"It's named after the place where Willy Wonka thought up his sweetest concoctions," Kleinman announced on his blog, Food 102 (pretty much required reading for any of you food geeks in the audience). "The Inventing Room team will provide one-of-a-kind food experiences for holiday parties, corporate gatherings and celebrations with family, friends and foodies."

One-of-a-kind is something of an understatement whenever Kleinman is involved in a project. He'll be offering liquid nitrogen ice cream parties, Miracle Fruit tastings, homemade soups (the guy really is a master at doing soups) and customized four-course molecular-tasting menus for anyone who asks (and is willing to pay, of course).

All of this is good news for anyone who has need of instant peanut butter ice cream, food pills, Guinness gelee or s'mores spring rolls. Anyone who's truly interested in the extremes to which food can be taken and the flavors that live there -- out on the edge of the possible. And it's also the perfect business plan for a guy who once made a pulled sugar Oompa Loompa while at culinary school.

Kleinman really is our own private Willy Wonka, our chef-jacketed mad scientist, pushing the boundaries of what's possible and what's sane in a world of food too often mired in tradition and copy-cat-ism. If I might paraphrase Roald Dahl and Gene Wilder just a bit:

"Meine Damen und Herren, der Inventing Room," said Wonka with a flourish. "Now remember, no messing about. No touching, no tasting, no telling. You see, all of my most secret inventions are cooking and simmering in here. Old Slugworth would give his false teeth to get inside for just five minutes, so don't touch a thing!"

For more information on the Inventing Room, check out Kleinman's blog or drop him an e-mail at catering@theinventingroomonline.com. He'll have a website up and running shortly, and promises more surprises in store.

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