'Top Chef' techs it up at CES

Appearing at the Bravo booth at CES, former "Top Chef" contestant Richard Blais applies a bit of science and tech in his cooking demos to serve up some snacks to the hungry crowd.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
2 min read

Former Top Chef contestant Richard Blais.
Former 'Top Chef' contestant Richard Blais. Lance Whitney/CNET

Nestled amid all the tech products and services at CES this week is the Bravo TV booth, featuring cooking demos by former "Top Chef" contender Richard Blais. But Blais isn't totally out of place here: he applies a bit of science and tech to cook up his culinary delights.

Narrowly losing the Top Chef title in season four of the series, Blaise is well-known to fans of the fast-paced cooking show for his molecular gastronomy approach to food preparation, a process that dives into the chemical reactions that occur as different ingredients are combined.

One of Blaise's trademarks is his use of liquid nitrogen, in which he dips in certain foods to treat them to a quick freeze.

Lance Whitney/CNET

At CES, the chef served up popcorn balls that were dipped in the freezing liquid. Typically, popcorn is served at room temperature or hot, he explained, so freezing them gives them a different kind of taste and texture. And apparently a good one--the crowd gobbled it up as it was passed around.

He also prepared marshmallows that were heated and then frozen in the nitrogen. Blaise tasted that creation and seemed to like it, but somehow those didn't seem to make it to my area for a taste.

Blaise said that he picked up his interest in molecular gastronomy along with some tricks and toys from his wife, who has a master's degree in microbiology. He's currently appearing on "Top Chef All Stars" using his liquid nitrogen approach to compete against other challengers for the Top Chef crown from past seasons.