Fried Hollandaise Sauce: Achievable With Science Chef Wylie Dufresne, the owner of New York City restaurant wd-50, experiments with food, literally. He has lab notebooks detailing what certain chemicals do to certain dishes. Science Friday stopped in to see him prepare his scientific spin on eggs Benedict.

Fried Hollandaise Sauce: Achievable With Science

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That's the flute, and that's our cue for Flora Lichtman here with Video Pick of the Week. This is really one of my favorites. She is the digital media producer here at SCIENCE FRIDAY.

And tell us about it.


Today we have a video by producer Christopher Intagliata, and it's a little stovetop science for you. He went to meet with a chef, Chef Wylie Dufresne, who has a restaurant down in the Lower East Side…

RAEBURN: Famous man.

LICHTMAN: …in New York City. Yes. He's a famous chef. And he's famous for doing experiments that end up on the plate.

RAEBURN: So this guy is kind of a scientist.

LICHTMAN: He is kind of a scientist. I mean, we went into his kitchen, and you know, there's of course the spice racks and the mixing bowls. And then there's this huge cabinet of really bizarre chemicals that he also uses in his dishes. And not only that, he's got tons of lab notebooks and textbooks that he consults when he's making these sort of nouveau cuisine meals.

RAEBURN: Now, before we put him out of business, are these chemicals safe? Is it okay to go there and eat this stuff?

LICHTMAN: Yeah. Absolutely. But I think they have taken some, you know, taken a lot of experimentation to get the formulas right, to achieve the sort of texture and the effects that he wants.

RAEBURN: Let me remind people, quickly, I'm Paul Raeburn. This is SCIENCE FRIDAY from NPR News.

Now, when you talk about chemicals, what are we talking about here? What kind of chemicals?

LICHTMAN: Well, for one thing, he specializes in gels. And one of - and the dish that actually Christopher filmed him making was eggs Benedict, which, you know…

RAEBURN: Nothing fancy about that.

LICHTMAN: Yeah. Right. We all think of - right, it's an English muffin.

RAEBURN: That's an old-fashioned dish.

LICHTMAN: It's a poached egg - yeah, we all know what it is, right? But if you see Chef Dufresne's version, you might not recognize it immediately as eggs Benedict, because it looks quite different.

And the chef's goal with this dish was to figure out a way to serve the hollandaise sauce hot. In fact, he wanted to deep fry it as a cube. Now, we all know that hollandaise sauce has…

RAEBURN: Deep fry a liquid?

LICHTMAN: Deep - first of all, it's a liquid, and not only that, it has eggs in it, and he wants it to remain a liquid. And so the trick was what do you need to add to this combination so that you can bread a liquid, deep fry it and then have it as warm and gooey and yummy on the plate.

RAEBURN: Now, if I hadn't seen the video, I'd stop you right here because I wouldn't believe this is possible.

LICHTMAN: It is. It's possible.

(Soundbite of laughter)

RAEBURN: So what's the trick? What did he add? How did he do it?

LICHTMAN: Well, I think we should make people watch the video.

RAEBURN: Make people watch the video.

LICHTMAN: They can find out that way.

RAEBURN: Where do they find it?

LICHTMAN: So they go to It's on the left-hand corner of the page. And, yeah, I'd be interested. I mean, we tried it, and I think we should say that it did taste like eggs Benedict.

RAEBURN: Is this - did you - do you like this kind of food? How did you feel personally about it?

LICHTMAN: Oh, Paul, you're putting me on the spot.

(Soundbite of laughter)

RAEBURN: Well, food is a personal thing. I think it's…

LICHTMAN: You know, I think I'm more of a meat and potatoes, fried chicken kind of person. But I have to say I ate at his restaurant once and I - it was the most engaging meal I think I've had in a while, because every dish is extremely clever and very flavorful. I mean, it's - the portions are small but they're packed with this sort of intense flavor and texture.

RAEBURN: Tell people once more where to find the video.

LICHTMAN: Check it out.

RAEBURN: Okay. Flora, thanks for being with us.


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