Project & Blog by Ichigo and Lucy!
Our final assignment for the class was to create an interactive food booth for the public to come and try out and interact with our food. Our requirements were to create experimental tapas dishes for around 75 people, to use a 4x8 foot area, and to have the audience interact with the food somehow.
The final project was upon us. The pressure was on, and out of pressure sprung some great ideas. After the groups were assigned we got together and started spitballing. Forming ideas seemed a lot easier with someone to bounce them off of. Initially we were inspired by the space of the event. It reminded us of a science fair or school carnival. We tossed out tons of weird ideas related to these themes. Some of them were:
- A mad scientist station with test tubes and beakers with edible contents
- A "salad toss" where participants could throw together their salad by throwing a ball and making ingredients fall
- A game of matching game that used different food items to create a dish.
- A duck pond game where participants draw a duck and depending on the number on the bottom they receive a corresponding ingredient
- A spin the wheel game that randomly selected the ingredients of a participants dish
- A dart popping balloon game that spattered different sauces onto a participants dish
- Edible body paint
- A dart board that had different ingredients in different sections and the more luxurious items or toppings are the ones that are harder to hit.
- Participants "get pied" in the face with different types of pies.
- A fishing game where a string is tossed over the sheet and then the participants are given their "catch" a certain type of fish that is grilled table-side.
With this long list of ideas we had to pick a couple to present to our other classmates and receive feedback in class. We chose to elaborate on the salad toss, duck pond, dart board, and fishing game ideas. We sketched them out, and added more details.
After workshopping with them, we thought the duck pond idea had the most potential to turn into a cool and creative idea. Now we just needed to figure out what food to serve with the duck pond. We threw out a ton of carnival themed ideas like popcorn with different toppings, caramel apples with different kind of sprinkles, savory cotton candy, funnel cakes with different sauces, even baked potatoes on a stick. The best idea we came up with was to make rice lollipops. One of us made sticky rice balls for a previous project, so we knew we had the skills to effectively present this. We could serve three different sauces that corresponded to the number on the ducks. It also struck us that the sauces should all be somehow duck related to play into the theme even further. We ordered some duck fat on Amazon. Yum.
On testing day, we got together to try out recipes. We realized that the white rice ball lollipops looked pretty boring. We tried adding food coloring to the rice, but then it looked to artificial. We thought about boiling different vegetables and then cooking the rice in the colored veggie water, but then we found a way to simply mix grated vegetables into the warm rice before it cooled. This colored the rice without flavoring it too much, and make for a delicious and simple rice treat that served as a great canvas for our three flavorful sauces.
The next step was to create sauces to go with the lollipops. We played around with recipes we found on the internet. One was for a hot vinaigrette that used duck fat instead of an olive oil.
The vinegar it used was apple cider vinegar. It also had honey in it. After trying it with the rice we decided that the apple cider vinegar was a bit too sweet and didn't go with the rice very well. We tried it with rice vinegar, and the flavors flowed together a lot better.
We also tried a white southern style gravy with duck fat. This was a great sauce, but we had to reduce the amount of flour in the roux to keep the sauce from getting too thick. The freshly cracked black pepper in this sauce made it really spectacular.
The last sauce we made was a Chinese style "duck sauce" that usually accompanies roast duck in Chinese restaurants. This sauce used garlic, ginger, apricot jam, lemon juice, and hot chili flakes. This is the only sauce that is served cold. We had to add a little extra acidity to balance out the powerful flavors of this recipe.
We also realized that although our lollipops looked cool, they were very starchy and sort of bland. We decided to add a flavorful duck liver mousse into the center of our lollipops. This made them have a novel element of surprise and a different texture to break up the starch.
We also played around with how we should present the ducks and decided that they looked nice in a big orange pot!
Our final product testing went well for the judges. We talked with them mostly about presentation. They advised that we make every duck liver center even, using a scale, and Steven gave us a technique to make every ball a uniform shape. We talked about standing the lollipops up in some way so participants could easily grab them for themselves.
To do this, we decided to use a foam board and create holes in it for the lollipop sticks. Then we covered it in red tissue paper so that it looked nice and fit our carnival theme! We also bought red and orange streamers to put around our table to add with the theme.
Now we had our final product/concept. Participants would walk up to our booth and grab one of the following colored lollipops: purple cabbage, orange carrot, or green pea (each of which had a duck liver mousse center). They would then draw a duck labelled 1, 2 or 3. This number would correspond with one of the sauces that were portioned out in individual sauce cups and the participant could dip the lollipop into the sauce and eat it in one big or two small bites.