Mad-scientist chef Homaro Cantu has become a cult figure in the Windy City. His restaurant-cum-laboratory is sequestered in the city's still-working meatpacking district. Many of the techniques perfected in the basement kitchen have been put to use in the chef's work with NASA and corporate America. Inside the minimalist dining room patrons pay for the privilege of being guinea pigs. The spectacle begins with the menu—daily changing multicourse menus are available in
10- and 20-course options—which is printed on edible paper. Flavors are seared into wine glasses by an industrial laser, rigatoni is fashioned from lychee puree, and frozen flapjacks are "cooked" table-side on a liquid-nitrogen-filled box. The awe-factor is big but the portions are small.