Cooking The Tree of Life: Sweets

Update: Here are the pictures from Albany John’s camera!


The two chefs prepping!
Sugar consumption chart. I’m a huge fan of the evolution of man at the top.
My favorite honey shot – watching the chef pour honey over fruit salad. Notice how the honey curves as he pours – it perfectly frames his face.
Fruit carvings.
Young Mr. Cryan helps serve out the fruit salad. Great job!

So many people help make this possible – not just the scientists and chefs listed. Other staff members and family members help to make this night a huge success.
Grilling shrimp in a pan.

Professor & chef working together to peel bananas.
Melting many, many cubes of butter on a large pan. It’s an induction burner – the pan gets hot by being on the element. The element itself is not hot. Very cool.
Flambe! Bananas foster is lit!


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Last night I went to the Wednesday night series, Cooking The Tree of Life, at the New York State Museum. Yesterday was about sweets and was presented by the awesome Dr. Jason Cryan, the NYS Museum’s Evolutionary Biologist. Tim Warnock of US Foods was the chef de nuit.

Albany John and I got in a few minutes after it started, and they had lots of samples of sugarcane. This was fun to munch on, a woody piece of sweet sugar. Nice! Heh heh – it looks like a french fry.
As you can see, I had to do a little bit of reading while I was there. It was either that or not go at all, and I’d already missed the first week’s presentation.

The snacking didn’t really help me concentrate. There were TONS of samples – I think everyone in the very large crowd got to sample each dish. Way to go with the supplies, US Foods!

Here was the first dish, a honey-coated fruit salad. Obviously not an in-season type dish, but more than welcome to me. With it being winter and all, I certainly haven’t been eating as much fruit as I’d like. It had blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, apples, grapes, mango, & pineapple in it.

You should have seen some of the neat graphs Jason had on display. Very cool stuff about sugar consumption over the years. Albany John got some awesome pics with his super-pro camera, so I’ll try and get those up, too.


Shrimp in habanero-mango. 2 per skewer, pls share with your neighbor. Wow, the habanero was hot, but it did go well with the dish. The smell during cooking this dish was wonderfully fresh. I might cook this myself. It wasn’t too sweet at all.

The shrimp passed out to the crowed tasted like it was the pre-cooked frozen kind of shrimp that was marinated & lightly grilled in the sauce. It was a bit mushy and flatly flavored, but I can see how this would be great on untreated shrimp (or other seafood that pops with flavor). The sauce was a real stand-out.

And here is Chef Warnock making bananas foster at the end of the presentation. There was a LOT of liquor poured into this very large dish, ha ha. The cinnamon & ginger spices really perfumed the auditorium. Lovely, lovely smells.

And here is the line of folks waiting from one side of the auditorium for bananas foster. There was a chocolate fountain on the other side. Holy moly! It would have moved a little faster, I think, but there was also vanilla ice cream being dished with the bananas. But it was sloooow for us folks in the back.

I was really hungry and didn’t feel like waiting, so I went home and ate two grilled cheese sandwiches and some enchiladas. And peanuts.

Definitely check them out next week when they discuss birds. With Chef Tony! Every event is free and open to the public. It’s a boon to Albany’s slower, often bleak, winters.

2 comments
  1. grace said:

    you mean winters aren't always bleak in ny? had me fooled. 🙂
    meanwhile, that's the most massive and therefore awesome pan of bananas foster i've ever seen.

  2. Jennifer said:

    Looks like a great event, I heard about it and now I wish I'd have gotten off my butt and went. Next year, I guess.

    The bananas foster is insane. That was a lot of butter.

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