WBEZ | Homaru Cantu http://www.wbez.org/tags/homaru-cantu Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Homaro Cantu was more than a showman http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/homaro-cantu-was-more-showman-111876 <p><p>To a lot of people, the <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-famed-chef-homaro-cantu-owner-of-moto-found-dead-on-northwest-side-20150414-story.html">late chef Homaro Cantu</a> was all about showmanship, gadgets and tricks of molecular gastronomy.</p><p>He was famous for edible menus, a fish that would cook itself on your table and fruit that became a carbonated juice box.</p><p>But what a lot of people didn&rsquo;t understand was that this mad scientist chef was about something even bigger: Homaru Cantu&nbsp;wanted to save the&nbsp;world.</p><p>When WBEZ reporters <a href="https://soundcloud.com/chewingthefat/ctf-ep-27-future-food">visited his Moto kitchens last year</a>, we were greeted by typical Cantu. He was playful, warm, articulate and bursting with ideas to make the world a cleaner, healthier more delicious place.</p><p>He showed us his digitally monitored indoor farm that he said could grow produce with astonishing efficiency.</p><p>&ldquo;All of these products are grown to such a precise degree that this stuff will grow 50 percent faster than their genetically modified counterparts in their best season,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;And it will all be composted by stuff that comes right from the kitchen.&rdquo;</p><p>He told us about plans to put a beehive on the roof with a path down to the indoor farm, &ldquo;So bees can come down here, then pollinate and leave.&rdquo;</p><p>He explained his strategy for &ldquo;smart composting&rdquo; that would customize the raw composting materials to the plants they&rsquo;d nourish.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/IMG_1792.JPG" style="height: 200px; width: 200px; float: left;" title="Chef Homaro Cantu at Moto with kitchen staff and Anthony Bourdain" /></p><p>&ldquo;Plants are like humans,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;They don&rsquo;t want the same diet&hellip;. When we start analyzing what plants really want and giving it to them, that&rsquo;s going to get us a more flavorful product, that&rsquo;s going to grow more efficiently without chemicals and genetic modification.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><div>He told us about his many ideas for saving energy and reducing food miles. And he shared his enthusiasm for the potential of the miracle berry (which makes sour things taste sweet) to help diabetics and cancer patients while improving overall public health.</div><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s been such a long road,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;But I think we are at a point where we can educate people about what they should be eating rather than what big companies want them to eat.&rdquo;</p><p>I realized I&rsquo;d had Cantu all wrong. Sure he was great at putting on a show. But his wild restaurants seemed to be just one way to showcase his plans to tackle some of the biggest problems our planet faces today.</p><p>Cantu stressed that, although he was patenting the research, he wanted it to be available to everyone.<br /><br />&ldquo;[After we file the initial patent] we want people to steal from us,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Food should not be owned. Food should be a collective effort for everyone, like open source software.&rdquo;</p><p>Like a lot of people in Chicago, I knew Cantu was facing a lawsuit from a former investor. But the news of his death Tuesday came as a great shock--and the suspected suicide even more so. Of all the chefs I&rsquo;ve known, few have had such ambitious technological plans, such a profound stake in the future and such visionary ideas for making the world a better place.&nbsp;</p><p>His cooking will be missed by diners. His heart and humor missed by his family and friends. But it&rsquo;s almost impossible to say what society will miss with the loss of Cantu&rsquo;s ideas and innovations, which he aimed at helping all of us.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em>Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer and co-host of the Chewing The Fat podcast. Follow her at <a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng">@monicaeng</a> or write to her at <a href="mailto:meng@wbez.org">meng@wbez.org</a></em></p></p> Wed, 15 Apr 2015 11:16:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/homaro-cantu-was-more-showman-111876 Director's cut: Homaro Cantu http://www.wbez.org/blogs/louisa-chu/2012-09/directors-cut-homaro-cantu-102514 <p><p style="text-align: center; "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/ingfishestop.jpg" style="height: 399px; width: 600px; " title="Sleeps with the fishes amuse bouche at iNG Scorsese dinner premiere (WBEZ/Louisa Chu)" /></p><p>Homaro Cantu, the chef best known for so-called&nbsp;molecular gastronomy, held an <a href="https://www.facebook.com/homaro.cantu/posts/10151254394319913">impromptu cooking class</a> at his restaurant, Moto, on Tuesday morning.&nbsp;Tuesday night, Cantu premiered a playful Martin Scorsese-themed menu at his adjacent restaurant,&nbsp;<a href="http://ingrestaurant.com/">iNG</a>,&nbsp;with Italian influenced food and drinks. Why Scorsese? &quot;We chose Scorsese because we think he is one of the most creative artists and he has a sense of humor even in his most serious works,&quot; said Cantu Wednesday.</p><p>That is how I&#39;d describe the chef and his work as well. For disclosure,&nbsp;I have known Cantu since I&nbsp;<a href="http://www.movable-feast.com/2004/11/moto.html">first&nbsp;<em>staged</em>&nbsp;at Moto</a>&nbsp;in 2004, and Tuesday he invited me to dinner as his guest.&nbsp;The first course, dubbed &quot;9mm&quot;&nbsp;(seen here in&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/louisachu/status/248196967350558723">my dinner live-tweets</a>)&nbsp;was&nbsp;a buttery&nbsp;<em>crespella</em> (Italian for crêpe) filled with intense caponata (the Sicilian take on the more familiar ratatouille) and garnished with pungent Taleggio cheese molded into a tiny handgun.&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center; "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/ingfishesbowl.jpg" style="height: 399px; width: 600px; " title="Amuse bouche for two at iNG (WBEZ/Louisa Chu)" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">Another disclosure: I hate the term molecular gastronomy when it&#39;s applied to restaurant food &mdash;&nbsp;I&#39;ll get into that another time &mdash;&nbsp;but I understand that it&#39;s now widely known as&nbsp;<a href="http://www.motorestaurant.com/about/">the application of both scientific and artistic principles in cuisine</a>, as it&#39;s described at&nbsp;Moto.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Whatever you call it, Cantu is now one of a handful of chefs worldwide who incorporates science and artistry as naturally as buttering bread. This menu will only run six weeks. &quot;Its the only way to keep up with seasonal local product and we get tired of making the same thing longer than that,&quot; said Cantu.&nbsp;The amuse-bouche Tuesday night (&quot;Sleeps with the fishes&quot;) was a rock shrimp cracker dipped in aioli powder, on top of a seaweed and smoke filled bowl, with skewered rock shrimp pasta sheets &mdash; all serious work, but humorous.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">That&#39;s the case with <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/clever-apes/2012-03-29/clever-apes-flavor-tripping-97704">his work with miracle berries</a>, fruit that transforms sour to sweet as its most dramatic trick. Cantu started using the berries as part of a project initiated by a longtime customer who asked Cantu to help make food more palatable for a friend undergoing cancer treatments. Now Cantu has written a <a href="http://www.amazon.com/The-Miracle-Berry-Diet-Cookbook/dp/1451625588">miracle berry cookbook</a>,&nbsp;which will be out in January 2013. He appears Wednesday night at an event hosted by my fellow WBEZ blogger <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/marcus-gilmer">Marcus Gilmer</a>&nbsp;(entitled &quot;<a href="http://tomschraeder.blogspot.com/2012/09/chicago-loves-homaro-cantuweds-8pm.html">Chicago loves Homaro Cantu</a>&quot;) with a miracle berry tasting.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Miracle berries may or may not transform your taste, but Cantu <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0099685/quotes?qt=qt0434772">will always amuse you</a>.</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center; "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/ingfishessmoke.jpg" style="height: 399px; width: 600px; " title="Amuse bouche reveal at iNG (WBEZ/Louisa Chu)" /></div></div></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 19 Sep 2012 14:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/louisa-chu/2012-09/directors-cut-homaro-cantu-102514 Clever Apes: Flavor tripping http://www.wbez.org/blog/clever-apes/2012-03-29/clever-apes-flavor-tripping-97704 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//blog/photo/2012-March/2012-03-28/WEB Moto_Vertical_Garden_4.png" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Vertical aeroponic garden at Moto restaurant (Courtesy of Mike Silberman, A Sust" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-28/WEB Moto_Vertical_Garden_4.png" style="width: 600px; height: 338px;" title="Vertical aeroponic garden at Moto restaurant (Courtesy of Mike Silberman, A Sustainable Reality Productions)"></p><p>We’ve seen and heard some pretty sweet stuff while producing Clever Apes, but in our latest excursion, we got to <em>taste</em> something very sweet. We recently visited the kitchen-laboratories of Chef Homaro Cantu.&nbsp; You may know him from his many appearances on <a href="http://planetgreen.discovery.com/tv/future-food/">television</a>, on the <a href="http://www.ted.com/talks/homaro_cantu_ben_roche_cooking_as_alchemy.html">web</a>, or eaten at his restaurants <a href="http://www.motorestaurant.com/">Moto</a> and <a href="http://www.ingrestaurant.com/">iNG</a>.</p><p><img alt="Chef Homaru Cantu in his restaurant iNG (WBEZ/Michael De Bonis)" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-28/rsz_homaru_cantu.jpg" style="margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: right; width: 200px; height: 184px; " title="Chef Homaru Cantu in his restaurant iNG (WBEZ/Michael De Bonis)">Our tour began in a recently converted former office in the basement of Moto. Cantu has transformed the space into an indoor aeroponic garden. The system works by spraying plant roots with nutrient enriched water. In this case, kitchen scraps are put in a worm composting bin. The nutritious byproduct is then mixed with water and sprayed on the plant roots from the inside of the spinning cylindrical garden.</p><p>Cantu’s restaurants are filled with hi-tech gadgets and other innovations, and he has big ideas about how some of this technology might mean revolutionary changes for the world beyond high end fine dining. The point of the aeroponic garden is not only to provide fresher veggies in the kitchen but to also cut down on the <a href="http://www.pbs.org/e2/teachers/teacher_309.html">“food miles”</a> associated with the food he serves.&nbsp; According to Cantu, his garden is a testing ground that will hopefully prove that this idea is cost-effective and scalable in a way that will get fresher, more eco-friendly food to anyone who wants it.</p><p><img alt="Miracle berry (Flickr/Ola Waagen)" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-28/6920711891_6238ce481f_z.jpg" style="margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: left; width: 200px; height: 133px; " title="Miracle berry (Flickr/Ola Waagen)">Another idea Cantu is excited about and is perhaps best known for is the use of <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/11/us/11cncberry.html?_r=1">miracle berries</a>.&nbsp; These small red berries have the “flavor tripping” property of turning sour tasting foods sweet. &nbsp;A glycoprotein called <a href="http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/notrocketscience/2011/09/26/how-the-miracle-fruit-changes-sour-into-sweet/">Miraculin</a> is the source of the berries’ superpowers and researchers have recently learned a bit more about how it <a href="http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2011/09/16/1016644108">binds to receptors on the tongue</a> to create that sweetness.</p><p>Cantu uses the berry in his iNG restaurant to create sweet treats without sugar or artificial sweeteners.&nbsp; As you’ll hear in our taste test, lemons taste like lemonade.&nbsp; What does a spoon full of fat free sour cream with lemon zest taste like?&nbsp; Listen to the full podcast to find out.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="This edible paper contains flavor tripping miracle berry (WBEZ/Michael De bonis)" class="caption" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/blog/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-28/WEB%20%5Dplat%20with%20sugar.jpg" title="This edible paper contains flavor tripping miracle berry (WBEZ/Michael De bonis)" height="400" width="600"></p></p> Thu, 29 Mar 2012 11:25:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/clever-apes/2012-03-29/clever-apes-flavor-tripping-97704