‘Alchemy’ food for thought

Sarah McGrath

Pittsburgh restaurant puts a new spin on food

Members of the Kent State general and healthy food committees took a road-trip Wednesday to the Bigelow Grille in Pittsburgh in quest of fine and unusual cuisine.

At a three-hour, 19-course meal titled Alchemy, the members tried a variety of foods from potato chips to caviar to rabbit.

Cooked and presented in unusual ways, Alchemy is a meal unto itself where potato chips just aren’t potato chips: They’re ice cream flavored potato chips.

“Drop your prejudices,” said John Goehler, assistant director of dining services, at the beginning of the meal, foreshadowing for students the unusual cuisine that was to come.

Throughout the meal, students were amazed and stunned by the variety of food presented to them.

“I’m impressed,” said Lauren Szymanski, junior education major and committee member, during one of the beginning courses. “I’m just going to sit back and watch the fun happen.”

Between the courses students laughed and talked about the food they had just tasted and tried to guess what the next course would entail.

At an Alchemy, everything is not what it seems.

One course, titled “Food for Thought,” consisted of celery-flavored sorbet, a pipette filled with buffalo wing sauce and a piece of mystery meat. Students were told that the course was supposed to imitate buffalo chicken.

It was not until after the students had finished the food that they found out what the mystery meat was – veal brain. Veal comes from baby cows.

“It is high-brow and it is low-brow at the same time,” said Jim Young while he presented the individual courses to the students. Young, a culinary analogist who served the courses, explained what each was, how it was cooked and where the ingredients used came from.

A different taste

Alchemy is a separate part of Bigelow Grille, almost a restaurant within a restaurant, said Young. It has its own menu, chef and server.

At the end of the meal the chef and creator of Alchemy, Kevin Sousa, spoke to students about the food they just tasted. Sousa created Alchemy from scratch more than a year ago.

“The scientific ingredients facilitate doing creative food,” Sousa said about his reasons behind the use of scientific ingredients, such as liquid nitrogen, when he created the Alchemy menu.

By the end of the meal students had tried a variety of flavors and cuisine not normally presented to them on a college campus.

“It is not something you do everyday; it is not something you can get everywhere,” said Chad Wolf, senior education major and committee member. “It was fun watching people try something they would never normally eat.”

For more information about Bigelow Grille, Alchemy and the food students tried, check out www.bigelowgrille.com.

Contact room and board reporter Sarah McGrath at [email protected].