Sunday, June 3, 2012

Ian Kleinman at Studio F Part II: Divine Deconstructed Desserts

In my last post I explained the details of how and why someone like me ended up at Studio F eating plate after plate of spectacular food made by Colorado's own cooking chemist, Ian Kleinman. In fact I ranted and raved so much that I decided to break it up into two posts, because though I realize my average reader's attention span and literacy level is likely much better than mine, I didn't want these desserts to get lost at the bottom of what turned out to be a very long post about a very good meal.


To summarize, Studio F (for Fun) is the new concept in the old Mise en Place cooking school. Studio F is all about entertainment through cooking (and eating) and one of its goals is to play host to guest chefs who create unique menus and cook their fare in front of the guests--even on big screen TVs. Chef Kleinman of The Inventing Room was recently there for about 10 days doing his thing with his full lab set of cooking tools, including his ubiquitous Nitrogen tank.


After a stunning meal, the first dessert we delved into that night was an apple pie, artfully deconstructed and wonderfully presented in true Kleinman style. On one side there was a small edible cup of a silky smooth vanilla ice cream, delicious and perfect like all of Kleinman's frozen treats. Smeared across the middle of the plate was a tart green apple, in the form of a warm gel. To use the Chef's description, "Crème fraîche streusel", was dotted over the gel, which made for a rich, creamy and crunchy transition (in both flavor and temperature) to the main attraction on the plate: That which most closely resembled an actual slice of pie.


Thinly sliced, slow-cooked apples (cooked for 20 hours) sandwiched between buttery, light wafers. Each bite was decadent on its own and heavenly with a smear of gel or a spoonful of ice cream.


The apple pie was my favorite of the two desserts for its classic flavor and playful presentation. My wife preferred the carrot cake, a much freer interpretation than the apple pie in flavor. The plate highlighted just how creative Chef Kleinman can be. It was a classic slice of carrot cake--moist and well-executed--but the icing was heavy with vanilla and on top was a creamy dollop of more Kleinman ice cream. Off to the side were crunchy bits of orange-flavored cream cheese, sticky caramel and lovely sweet chunks of almonds and honey.


Chef Kleinman put together a hell of a meal that night and I enjoyed seeing him cooking and creating up close once again. He looks like a man doing exactly what he wants to be doing and I admire how he interacts with his guests, showing a genuine interest in sharing his passion for his naturally interactive cooking techniques. His run at Studio F is over for now, but look out for him and do what you can to eat with him in the future.

Mazzio, proprietor of the forward-thinking Studio F, has brought to Denver a fun concept in an incredible space that I hope is here to stay. When he is not hosting evening meals or private events, he keeps it real all week long with Red Star Deli up front. It is open during the weekdays for breakfast and lunch and the menu looks attractive. With Mazzio's culinary chops behind the menu, needless to say it is on my short list of new places to check out. Studio F on Urbanspoon

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