MOTO | Chicago
Heralded as one of America’s
most daring chefs, 29-year-old Chef Homaro Cantu pushes the limits
of known taste, texture and technique in a stunning futuristic fashion
The son of an engineer, Cantu – a scientist at heart –
is driven by insatiable curiosity and endless possibilities. Having
grown up in Portland, Oregon, Cantu graduated from Le Cordon Bleu.
He then worked his way up the ranks in nearly 50 kitchens on the
West Coast before moving to Chicago to work at Charlie Trotter’s.
Cantu spent four years there earning a Sous Chef position before
leaving to open Moto. Cantu is not blazing new culinary trails for
shock value alone but rather to change the way that people perceive
and eat food. He views Moto as his laboratory and tests new technologies
in the kitchen daily. Scientific elements such as liquid nitrogen
and helium and devices such as a centrifuge and a hand-held ion
particle gun make regular appearances in the Moto kitchen.
Chef Homaro Cantu of Moto – Chicago, IL
Adapted by StarChefs.com
Yield: 20 Servings
- 200 grams dates, pitted and chopped
- 150 grams Serrano ham, chopped
- 1,000 milliliters sherry
- Liquid nitrogen
- 500 grams white chocolate, melted and steeped with saffron to
Puree dates and ham with sherry and freeze mixture to make a sorbet.
Scoop the sorbet into balls, and dunk them in liquid nitrogen to
freeze. Then dunk in warm saffron-chocolate to form a hard candy
coating. Store truffles in a covered container in the freezer, and
allow to thaw at least 1 hour before serving.
Broadbent Madeira, Portugal 10 Year Malmsey
AB: Who are your mentors?
HC: Paul Allen (co- founder
of Microsoft), for his leadership and philanthropy. Stephen Hawking
(theoretical physicist) – he defined black holes.
AB: What is your philosophy
on food and dining?
HC: To be creative but not
to copy. In order to create new food, one needs to create new tools.
AB: Tell me about some of
the culinary techniques that you have created.
HC: The most interesting is
with ionic particles. What I use the most is liquid nitrogen. I’m
using edible papers. Also I take a cryovac bag and do sous vide
in hot oil. It allows you to do flash sous vide cooking, creating
a new flavor profile.
AB: Is your restaurant profitable?
How do you afford to experiment with costly equipment and products?
HC: Yes, we’re profitable.
We don’t follow the classical model in the kitchen. With only
offering tasting menus, I know exactly what is going to be served.
We don’t waste money on unused product. Our food cost is 20-25%.
AB: How would you describe
the people who come to work for you?
HC: I couldn’t lump them
into one group. Some knock on the door, some email. (When I worked
for Trotter I knocked on the back door.) I look for people that
have the energy and the dedication.
AB: What is your favorite
question to ask during an interview for a potential new line cook?
HC: Are you sure you want to
do this? In 2 years will you remember why you are here?
AB: What are your favorite
HC: I prefer to stage. That’s
where I really got my education. I have to do things hands- on.
AB: What cities do you like
for culinary travel?
HC: Chicago! We have the financial
wherewithal to experiment.
AB: What are your favorite
restaurants in Chicago?
HC: Alinea and Avenues.
AB: What trends do you see
emerging in the restaurant industry now?
HC: Tasting menus with less
classical interpretations. The diner has to give up freedom of choice
with the tasting menu format versus à la carte. There’s
also a sudden influx of chefs working in the dining room.
AB: What do you think of Ferrán?
HC: I think he is a great chef.
We are dealing with the same difficulties that Ferrán faced
in terms of negativity towards new ideas.
AB: Where do you see yourself
in 5-10 years?
HC: Hopefully doing exactly
what I’m doing today. We are working on a science documentary
on the restaurant and team.