I departed Chicago a changed man, alive with new ideas, concepts and a much better grasp of what would be necessary to accomplish our next series of dinners in a fashion that would befitting the original hosts.
Our recreation dinners in Chicago would be our first attempts at performing such a high level of haute cuisine away from our home kitchen and became the template for what you could imagine as a monumental logistical nightmare. The meal itself was long and the ingredients fragile, with many preparations that would have to be accomplished in Chicago without the help of a proper work space. We would have to not only bring some of the more intricate prepared foods but we would need to bring a vast amount of specific equipment as well as finding some of the immovable devices locally with friendly or sympathetic owners.
We decided to split the meals into a Friday and Saturday seating of roughly half the number of guests we had served in New York. A more reasonable goal with all of the new challenges we had to overcome to serve twenty-five of the most technically difficult dishes in the world.
Our flights were booked for Thursday the 21st of January, 2009, so early in the morning it would be offensive to most people who don’t work as long shore men. We travelled light on clothes, as every carry on and checked bag was filled to the teeth with food and equipment (a truncated list of some of the items: sous vide rib cap, dehydrator, silpats, micro-planes, yuba, low and high acyl gellan, veal demi-glace, apple fruit leather, sodium hexametaphosphate, truffle stock, truffle soup -a quart of which was lost in the packing process in New York. That quart of soup cost $125.00 hence why I wasn’t told about it until arrival in Chicago and needed to make our shopping list).
It seemed from the get go that security guards at the airport were going to love us, but it wasn’t until they got to our immersion circulator that the love was really felt. Being wildly expensive we obtained a pelican case for what is one of the most essential pieces of cooking equipment we owned. This steel reinforced case only reinforced the idea that even after x-raying it twice, the TSA needed to poke in and around this case, while I reiterated my explanation of its purpose with the kind of deft tact and skill that can only come with being awake and at an airport before the sun rises. Needless to say it was discovered not to be dangerous and we were on our way.