Foodie forum

Foodie forum

A new food interest group and local blog debuted last month. It’s called A New Mountain Cookery, and the group’s focus is “modern cuisine.” Since its inception last month, one contributor to the blog, JaisonUpstairs—presumably the virtual persona of Jaison Burke, chef of The Upstairs—already has contributed six recipes, including one for apple foam and another for the sous-vide pheasant he serves at The Upstairs. He’s also used the forum to offer up a stash of xanthan gum to a fellow blogger, as well as provide inside tips on how to get a commercial sous-vide set-up past Virginia’s health department. Talk about a food-forward love fest!
New Mountain’s mission is to “provide a collaborative network through which chefs, food lovers, food scientists and other interested parties…explore the culinary area of modern cuisine and its role within the larger community of Virginia, America and the world.” How’s that for lofty goals? We’d say New Mountain has unrealistically broad expectations, except that Burke’s posts alone prove this particular culinary project has struck a chord with a few local chefs exploring the sort of cutting-edge, chemistry-lab cooking that most of us only know from watching Bravo’s “Top Chef.” And, apparently, they want to collaborate. Isn’t it great?

Computer hungry: Tyler Teass, the founder of A New Mountain Cookery blog.

Restaurantarama wondered, Who is behind this movement? As it turns out, it’s a little sheep who’s leading them. The founder is Tyler Teass, a 2008 UVA graduate of the American Studies department. Teass has no formal culinary education and began his food studies the way most of his generation gets schooled—on the Internet. Surfing food sites and blogs such as Harold McGee’s Curious Cook and Ideas in Food while, ahem, working at a desk job as a college intern last summer, Teass says he became so interested in cooking and, in particular, the application of scientific principles to food preparation—what’s commonly referred to as “molecular gastronomy” these days—that he started experimenting with tapioca maltodextrin and transglutaminase in his own kitchen.

Not that the amateur cook is learning all of his food tricks in a vacuum (yes, that was a sous-vide pun). Currently, Teass is working in L’etoile’s kitchen alongside chef and owner Mark Gresge, and from there Teass as been turning out sciency little amuse bouches, such as a melon and prosciutto bite fashioned to look like a piece of sushi, complete with calcium chloride and sodium alginate-created honey balls in place of the roe.

But Teass is humble when it comes to dishes like this—“It’s ubiquitous—stuff that’s been around for years.” He’s much more grandiose, however, when it comes to the potential impact of the culinary group he’s cultivated. He wants New Mountain to function as a local “underground food lab,” and to “dispel myths that these types of cooks are mad scientists putting chemicals in your food.”

Recently, Teass distributed a list of interview questions to the chef of every Virginia restaurant that he knows is doing this type of contemporary cookery and will post those responses soon. If you want to learn more about these foodie Frankensteins (just kidding), check out New Mountain’s blog at

Quick bites

Restaurantarama has recently heard a flurry of rumors that Rapture is for sale. Well, kids, that’s old news. Rapture’s been on the block for a while now, and recall that owner Andrew Vaughan has already unloaded Atomic Burrito as well as Orbit Billiards recently this spring. The truth is, as one business broker source of ours tells it, “restaurants are always for sale for the right price.” You catch your average overworked and highly leveraged restaurateur at the right moment and he will happily hand over the keys before jetting off to some much needed R&R in Jamaica.

In other real news, Zinc is now open for dinner seven days a week, having added Sunday to the lineup.

Got some restaurant scoop? Send tips to or call 817- 2749, Ext. 48.

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