Cafe Society

Chef and Tell with molecular gastronomist Ian Kleinman

"Anything I can possibly dream up is now doable, because I'm able to really play around with food," says Ian Kleinman, Denver's answer to Alton Brown, the wacky culinary scientist (and only food personality worth watching) on the Food Network. Kleinman, too, is a culinary chemist -- a molecular gastronomist -- whose favorite ingredient just happens to be liquid nitrogen, which he loves like the rest of us love ice cream. And here's the thing: Kleinman uses it to make sorbets, ice cream and milk shakes.

Kleinman's fascination with molecular gastronomy dates from 2006, when he was executive chef at O's Steak and Seafood, the on-site restaurant in the Westin Westminster Hotel. The corporate chef of Starwood, the company that owns the Westin brand, sent Kleinman to open a restaurant in the St. Regis -- now the Ritz -- in Fort Lauderdale, and there Kleinman met another chef who'd cooked at Alinea, Grant Achatz's incredibly progressive molecular restaurant in Chicago. "This guy was telling me stories about tomato paper and pineapple gas and flash-frozen sorbets -- all new things I'd never heard of -- and I was really intrigued," says Kleinman. So intrigued that when he resumed his post at O's, he asked the general manager for liquid nitrogen, agar and methocel. "When I started using the additives, there weren't a lot of recipes, so I'd have to do tests, just like in sixth-grade science class," recalls Kleinman.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Lori Midson
Contact: Lori Midson