Food & Wine

Chef Micail Swindells on Cooking with Nitrogen on Board

29 April 2024 By Laura Shaughnessy

Laura Shaughnessy is the former managing editor at Dockwalk. 

Head Chef Micail Swindells of 251-foot Turquoise Yacht GO wowed the 2023 Monaco Yacht Show’s Captains and Crew Lounge with his nitrogen cooking demonstration, where he served up pistachio ice cream using liquid nitrogen and a tomato-based dish with burrata.

Time and temperature are the most important things in cooking, and when you have liquid nitrogen, “You can manipulate the food in a way like no other due to its very low temperature,” Micail says. “One of the most fascinating applications of liquid nitrogen in cooking is within the realm of molecular gastronomy. It transforms traditional ingredients into uniquely textured and visually stunning dishes. For example, we can create bubbly foams, airy mousses and delightful frozen treats with an astonishingly smooth texture.”

Want to cement a charter in the mind of your charter guests forever? Cook with liquid nitrogen tableside. “We do a very simple tomato salad on board and make a crystal-clear tomato consummé too,” Micail says. The service team sets up the section at the head of their table with the nitrogen, then the sous chef and Micail present the dish at the table. “We start by pouring the nitrogen into a bowl and a cloud of vapor covers the table. It’s like something out of Alice in Wonderland.”

Liquid nitrogen has also been known to save the day. During one charter, Micail was told about a guest’s birthday while mid-service. They quickly whipped up a chocolate roulade which took 17 minutes from start to finish. “If we didn’t have the nitro on board, this wouldn’t have been possible,” he says.

Of course, with great power comes great responsibility. “Liquid nitrogen is incredibly cold, reaching temperatures as low as -320°F, so proper handling is crucial,” urges Micail. Always wear protective gloves and goggles, have good ventilation in your workspace, dispense liquid nitrogen in well-ventilated areas and avoid direct contact with skin or clothing. When storing the drum on board, keep it in a ventilated area, and check out an MSDS sheet for fuel safety details.

You can find Micail on the mymuybueno Academy of Culinary Arts online training platform, where he  teaches a 15-course menu that incorporates elements of liquid nitrogen cooking. He’s also active on Instagram  @MicailSwindells

This article was originally published in the April 2024 issue of Dockwalk.


More from Dockwalk