Would You Eat a Balloon for Dessert?

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Kerry Diamond
·Editor in Chief, Yahoo Food
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Today, Yahoo Food celebrates the modernists—those chefs, researchers, and big thinkers pushing culinary boundaries and exploring new ways of cooking and using ingredients. What they do is part science, part art, and, seemingly, part magic.

One of the coolest desserts in America, and certainly one of the most unique, is the edible helium balloon from Alinea in Chicago. Made of green apple taffy, the quirky confection is the brainchild of chef Grant Achatz (rhymes with jackets). 

The famous edible balloon being filled with helium. Photo: @mariabarriga1 / Instagram

Achatz is recognized as one of the most important chefs in the world, and has been widely celebrated for his modernist approach to cooking. He and partner Nick Kokonas opened Alinea in 2005 and today it’s among the 12 restaurants in America with three Michelin stars. Achatz’s first restaurant job? Working as a child at his parents’ diner in Michigan. 

The chef’s life and career took a dramatic turn in 2008 when he was diagnosed with Stage IV tongue cancer, a harrowing period he recounted in Life, On The LineA Chef’s Story of Chasing Greatness, Facing Death, and Redefining the Way We Eat, a memoir written with Kokonas.

Balloons for the everyone! Photo: Edsel Little / Flickr

Achatz is back on his feet and continues to run the kitchen at Alinea. And the edible balloon continues to be on the tasting menu, which generally consists of 18 to 22 courses. (Ordering à la carte is not an option.) 

The video above gives you an idea of how the balloon is made and presented to each table. How to eat it, though? According to some diners, the best approach is to kiss the balloon, suck out the helium, and then eat the taffy. The string is edible, too.

An Alinea diner demonstrates the kissing technique. Photo: @jillg1213 / Instagram

Get to know Grant Achatz:
10 Modernist Chefs Who Changed Everything
Alinea Charges for “Tickets” Instead of Reservations
Achatz Sounds Off On Babies In Restaurants

Would you eat a balloon for dessert?