Taking Taste Buds To Outer Limits

Chef Homaro Cantu
The New York Times describes chef Homaro Cantu as "a chef in the Buck Rodgers tradition, blazing a trail to a space-age culinary frontier."

Cantu, who's executive chef at Chicago's Moto restaurant, gave Early Show viewers a taste of his take on culinary creations Friday. The leader in "molecular gastronomy" whipped up some of his more innovative dishes.

He's considered one of America's most daring chefs -- pushing the limits of known taste and technique.

The Moto Web site calls Cantu "a scientist at heart," adding that he's "an inventor. Through Cantu Designs, Mr. Cantu has filed numerous patent applications covering diverse fields such as dining items, cookware and edible surfaces."

The site adds, "To dine at Moto is to gain a glimpse of the inner-workings of this culinary prodigy's mind and the future of gastronomy. Offering tasting menus of 5, 10 and 18 courses, Cantu stretches the imagination and takes you on a culinary adventure from the very first bite, which may even be your menu! Homaro prints the evening's offerings on edible paper. These functional and delicious menus assume many final forms on the plate including risotto and alphabet soup."

On The Early Show, Cantu featured:

  • Artichoke Soup with Pea Puree: This dish evokes the flavors of the season while adding a richness and decadence not normally associated with a warming early summer. Chef Cantu tops off his soup with his signature edible menu -- made of vegetable-based film with organic ink.
  • Pizza Soup: Cheeseless, doughless pizza never tasted so good! This vegetarian soup tastes like a pepperoni pizza, but has NO meat.
  • Sushi: A vegan sushi snack made of rice and seaweed served with wasabi mayo sauce.
  • BBQ Pork with Corn Bread/Ketchup Sauce & Briquettes: Butter-tender pork cooked in a smoker for 16 hours, served with a cornbread/ketchup sauce (to look like BBQ sauce) and white bread briquettes (to look like charcoal).
  • Printed Edible Dishes: It's deja vous as Chef Cantu serves up a sampling of the three previous dishes (pizza, sushi, BBQ pork) in edible printed paper -- that are not only a two-dimensional image of each, but also tastes like each dish!
  • Alien Crash Course Dessert: A delicious confection of mint, peanut, chocolate and ice cream -- traditional and universal favorites, topped off with Midori carmel candy.


    Artichoke Soup with Pea Puree

    Artichoke Soup:

    4 artichokes, cleaned and quartered
    2 leeks (whites)
    5 cloves of garlic, crushed
    1/4 lb butter
    1 quart vegetable stock
    3 tablespoons vegetable oil
    Pinch of red chile flake
    5 peppercorns
    Sprig of thyme
    Bay leaf
    Lemon to taste
    Salt to taste

    Clean artichokes and hold them in a bath of cold water and lemon juice (prevents oxidation - browning of artichokes). Sweat garlic, leeks, artichoke for 2 minutes in oil and butter. Cover vegetables with stock and simmer covered until artichokes are fork tender. Puree in a blender until mixture is smooth. Adjust seasoning with salt and lemon.

    Pea Puree:
    16oz. English pea legume
    1 quart of water
    1/2 cup sugar
    1/2 cup salt

    Boil a small pot of water with sugar and salt for blanching. Blanch and shock peas until tender. Puree peas in a blender and use blanching water for any additional liquid to help your puree roll in the blender.

    Pizza Soup

    6 tomatoes, chopped
    1 large onion, sliced
    1/4 cup crushed garlic
    T fennel seed
    T dry thyme
    T dry oregano
    T red chili flakes
    Olive oil
    T sugar
    Salt to taste
    Lemon to taste
    Balsamic vinegar to taste

    Grease your pot with olive oil. Combine tomatoes, onion, garlic, herbs, pinch of salt and sugar in the pot and let simmer, stirring occasionally. Water will seep out of the vegetables and the soup is done when most of the water has evaporated. Blend until smooth. Season with balsamic, lemon, salt, and maybe a bit more sugar until the soup has attained that familiar pizza flavor.