Cooking at minus 190 deg C

The power's out and you haven't yet filled the gas bottle for summer barbies, now what if you want to cook a meal?

Just reach for that handy bottle of liquid nitrogen in your pantry.

Well, not quite...

As chef Caitlin Le Harivel and resident mad scientist Darrell Smith from Cryogenic Products Ltd demonstrate, this is a medium best left to the experts. 

On Sunday, as part of Visa Wellington On a Plate, Le Harivel and Smith explored the culinary possibilities of cooking at minus 190 degrees celcius.

Liquid nitrogen is used in the world's top kitchens to create spectacular dishes, as exciting for their presentation as for their flavour.

Le Harivel calls cooking with liquid nitrogen a ''theatrical medium'' and says its potential for delighting guests is what first interested her. 

However, it isn't without its risks, as Smith points out. Spoons, bowls and even fingers can snap when chilled to such low temperatures.  

Le Harivel said Sunday's hairiest moment came when she was preparing frozen tiramisu, and ended up with a pair of tongs stuck to her hand. For the most part, though, she says it's not too different to cooking with heat in terms of safety, just at the opposite end of the scale. 

The event, at Elements Cooking School, included practical demonstrations of sweet and savoury culinary delights, finished with the ultimate alcohol slushy and the freshest, fastest ice cream. 

Win vouchers, entry passes, pots and pans with Visa Wellington On a Plate

The Dominion Post