Photograph by Darrow Montgomery
To a molecular gastronomist like Rogue 24 chef R.J. Cooper, whose workspace can look like the science lab at a well-equipped suburban high school, a pair of giant tweezers probably represents a simple, entry-level tool. “You’ll see them in 90 percent of the kitchens across the country,” says Cooper. “You’ll see them all the time on Iron Chef
.” Maybe, but most restaurants don’t let mere patrons twiddle around with the oversized nail-salon tools in the dining room. Even if you don’t dig the sea urchin smothered in salty sea-floor foam, or whatever bizarre concoction Cooper happens to be serving that night, it’s still pretty fun to snatch up your grub with a pair of surgical tongs. Don’t even bother to ask about hanging on to the things, either. “The chef would bite off my head!” the server told me during my first encounter with Cooper’s two-dozen-course dinners. Knowing R.J., I think he may be serious.