LIQUID CHILLERS To make orange ice cream, Ludovic Lefebvre of Los Angeles's Bastide purees orange pulp, then pours liquid nitrogen over it to freeze it instantly. "There are no eggs, no cream, no milkjust pure orange flavor," he says. Lefebvre also dips mayonnaise in liquid nitrogen (at a temperature of negative 320 degrees Fahrenheit) to form a cold, thin shell around a soft center, then serves it with fries, Belgian-style.
HIGH-TECH ICEBOXES Grant Achatz of Alinea in Chicago (an F&W Best New Chef 2002) is busy playing with a cold plate, a griddlelike contraption custom-built for him by Polyscience, an industrial equipment manufacturer. While regular freezers can maintain temperatures as low as negative five degrees Fahrenheit, the cold plate drops to 45 below zero. Achatz uses it to give dollops of sour cream a thin, frozen crust, which he tops with shavings of smoked salmon. Iacopo Falai of the restaurant Falai in New York City uses a $30,000 Koma industrial freezer, which goes as low as negative 36 degrees Fahrenheit, to make layered mousses that freeze in 30 minutes instead of the usual 10 hours. The temperature is monitored by satellite, so it's extremely accurate.