I first met Beatrice Schneider at the Culinary Vegetable Institute in the same spirit I meet most people. It’s very transient out here, though it is secluded and focused, the front door rarely stops swinging. We were preparing for the Bocuse d’Or dinner in March and our pastry chef for the evening, Thomas Raquel (Le Bernardin) arrives with this vibrant inquisitive soul who introduces herself simply as… Beatrice.
Beatrice smells like chocolate, speaks like a poet, thinks like a philosopher, and there’s something very childlike in her curious nature. I’ve dubbed her Mother Goose in the most respectful admiration. I quickly discovered she was co-founder of the Chicago School of Mold Making. My brain is and was buried in cultures for cheese making and fermenting vegetables so I immediately exchanged contacts thinking I had a new source for mold and bacteria spores Aspergillus or Geotrichum Candidum.
The Chicago Mold School doesn’t do bacteria cultures. They do silicone rethink food culture. Beatrice and her business partner Michael Joy create the most intricate, detailed replicas for casting new ideas into physical edible shapes previously unthought-of and unexplored for the world. Period. They produce large silicone pieces for the most efficient and consistent confectionary displays for chocolate or sugar work. They make custom forms for whatever geometric freedom you wish to express. I love these people. They provide us with the tools to create something uniquely provocative or inspiring. There is no reference for cooking with these tools in the savory kitchen. There is no support from Google. Their customers include the most incredible lineup of chefs on this planet. The people in this expedition are true pioneers of the uncharted.
The recent projects brought to my world from hers include Romanesco, figs, carrots, quail eggs, perfect two piece sphere molds, artichokes, asparagus, black radishes, the most beautiful baby cauliflower, walnuts, walnut shells, tree bark, maple leaves. It’s like that childlike nature of Beatrice created a candy store designed to bring out the inner child in every chef, artist, and craftsman.
Never before had I imagined a world where I could legitimately remodel ingredients into incomprehensible lifelike versions of their original form. Today, I could never imagine a world without the hands of Beatrice Schneider and Michael Joy who create the tools and open the doors for the chef, artist, and craftsman.
The walnuts pictured below are made from walnut miso and walnut milk then soaked in Nocino and dried.