Tech rundown: The Antigriddle
In my last tech rundown, I talked about ingredients that avant-garde restaurants use for some of their tricks that are just as easy for home cooks to find and use. This time, I want to show you the Antigriddle, a piece of equipment that’s probably out of reach for most home cooks. (Though that hasn’t stopped some people!)
The Antigriddle is made by PolyScience, a company that manufactures and distributes all sorts of great culinary equipment that’s indispensable for avant-garde cooking, like immersion circulators, vacuum sealers and rotary evaporators. (The one exception seems to be their Smoking Gun. Reports that it burns out too quickly abound. Clearly there’s a design challenge there.) The Antigriddle was inspired by Grant Achatz, but has since become very popular among chefs who use contemporary techniques.
I’ve only ever seen an Antigriddle once, in the kitchen at Atelier, the Ottawa restaurant headed up by Marc Lepine. He kindly agreed to answer a few questions about it by e-mail, and let me take a few photos of it in action on my last visit to Atelier.
1. What exactly does an Antigriddle do?
An Antigriddle does the reverse of a griddle. It cold sears; it surface freezes at minus 30 [degrees Fahrenheit].
2. Where did you first encounter it? Do you remember the first Antigriddled dish you ate?
I read about it online, probably on eGullet. The first things I ate that were “Antigriddled” were just components that I wanted to try freezing, like crème anglaise and honey.
We use it to add temperature contrast to a dish, to freeze things à la minute. [When I last ate at Atelier, there was an Antigriddled course called “Nachos” that involved freezing salsa whipped cream on the Antigriddle, then coating it in sour cream and tortilla chip crumbs.]
4. I seem to recall you had a bit of an incident at the airport while trying to take the Antigriddle to an event. What happened?
There is a full write-up on our blog about the Antigriddle incident, but basically Porter would not let me fly with it to go to an event in Toronto because they were afraid of the compressed cooling gas at high altitudes. Of course, these things are shipped by air all over the world.
5. Is there any way for home cooks to replicate the effects of an Antigriddle without the $1,100 price tag?
To replicate the effect at home one could get a chunk of dry ice and put a steel tray over it, but otherwise I can’t think of a way to have the same level of control and convenience. [Indeed, some people have reported great success with this approach.]