The ice concept of an award winning chef
When we hear “ice maker”, we automatically think of cocktail bars or bottles of champagne, submerged in buckets, filled with ice. The European Union defines water, and everything made of water as “food”. Considered being a food item, ice makers and ice cubes for commercial purposes need to be compliant with different country-specific and European laws and regulations. We want to shift your view on ice away from beverage-focused uses and provide some insight into the many other purposes of good quality ice in modern restaurants.
To learn more about the role of ice makers for restaurants, we have consulted Rasmus Munk, co-owner and head chef at Alchemist.
But how does Rasmus use ice in his restaurant?
For his Michelin-awarded restaurant, located in the heart of Copenhagen’s historic center, Rasmus chose 3 different ice makers:
On his travels through Japan. and getting to know the depth of Japanese bar culture, Rasmus came across many ice makers with that famous penguin logo. Fascinated by the cocktails of Japanese bartenders featuring crystal-clear ice, Rasmus decided to include cocktails into his menu, under one condition: It had to be such a Hoshizaki. Today, Rasmus’ menu features a number of cocktails, for example, the Hellstrøm Sencha, a cocktail consisting of two main taste drivers: traditional Japanese Sencha Tea, and a traditional Scandinavian spirit, Aquavit.
The Hellstrøm Sencha is prepped and served on Hoshizaki Ball Ice. With a diameter of 45 mm and a weight of 45 g, Hoshizaki Ball Ice is quite voluminous. Due to its size and extreme compactness, the dilution rate is low while creating a rapid chilling effect on the mixed ingredients.
Hoshizaki Ball Ice Makers work, similar to the famous Cubers, with a patented closed-cell system. Each ice ball is made individually by a dedicated spray of fresh water. This happens within a closed cell to achieve the highest possible compactness of an ice cube with the perfectly precise shape of a ball.
On one of these Japan travels, Rasmus passed a shop selling traditional Kaki Gori and was instantly drawn by this artful, but unpretentiously simple Japanese dessert creation. The impression was lasting, so he decided to put his version of Kaki Gori on the menu of the newly opened and ground-breaking restaurant.
For Alchemist’s Kaki Gori, the dessert is made from slowly shaving ice into extremely thin slices. Flavored with a concoction of condensed milk and bergamot syrup and topped with a cloud of bergamot-flavored milk foam. The secret behind a good Kaki Gori is the quality of the ice. To withstand the shaving process, and to maintain its fluffy snow-like consistency, the base ice needs to be extremely hard, clear, and dry.
At its most sophisticated form, the ice is traditionally taken from blocks of carefully frozen, pure spring water. At Alchemist, located in the heart of Copenhagen, and far away from Japanese spring water dwells, Rasmus trusts the smart technology of Gram Freezing Cabinets, to create a flawless base for his Kaki Gori.
While Rasmus trusts Hoshizaki Cubers for his cocktail creations, for Kaki Gori, he needs very big blocks of ice. These he makes himself by carefully slow freezing pure water in one of his GRAM Freezer Cabinets.
In order to produce the perfect base for ice-shaving, he creates optimal freezing conditions by being able to control the temperature precisely. It is crucial to decrease the freezing speed to a point where no air bubbles are trapped inside, resulting in perfectly clear and compact ice.
Best-in-class insulation is the key when looking for Freezers that are able to slow-freeze water into crystal clear ice blocks. But it also plays a role when trying to keep energy costs down, as the cold air is safely trapped inside the cabinet.
Cooking can be seen as a game in which the player has to use different factors, such as time and temperatures to bring each ingredient to its maximum potential.
There are several cooking techniques that involve ice, for example, to carefully chill stocks and soups.
One technique that includes “playing” not only with heat but also with the cold, is blanching.
This well-established cooking technique is actually based on thermal and chemical processes, taking into account the effects of cooking and chilling times of different vegetables on taste, colour, texture, and nutritional value has been scientifically researched. A recent joint research paper published by American, Chinese, and Canadian scientists, examines the several effects of the blanching technique.
How blanching works on the chemical level will be the topic of the next blog post.