the Experience

Its 6:30 and the bamboo door opens to a warm and intimate world where artistry flourishes and shades of earth fill the room as does the scent of something familiar and comforting. The barrier between chef and guest dissolves away. You are escorted to your table which is barren except for a singular golden box. A surprise perhaps, or a precursor to the series of tantalizing and playful dishes awaiting you.

The service team explains the culinary journey on which you are about to embark. The lights dim; the experience begins. A series of nine to eighteen courses tell a story while your emotions run free. The atmosphere changes – sometimes subtly, sometimes dramatic. All the while your memory of this experience grows until another box appears and you realize the evening has come to an end…or has it.

The journey begins...

Taste

Food = Taste + {Emotion + Memories + Atmosphere}

To assume that Taste only comes from food is to discount the human ability to perceive, store, and recall emotion and memories. To demonstrate try this experiment – close your eyes and hold your nose while taking a sip of wine, then release your nose. When the wine hit your tongue you tasted acid and probably sourness. Without the aromas from the volatiles released in the alcohol you would not know if this was a red or white wine or whether it was good or bad. But once you release your nose and can breathe in the aromas your mind comes alive with “taste” and memories of previous wines and where you were when you drank those wines and probably who you were with and the place and time of the experience.

Food is ultimately about emotion which is influenced by your mood, the lighting, smells from the kitchen, fond memories, your surroundings, your dinner companions, the sounds and music in the background and your expectation of what you are about to eat. Eculent is about uniting food with a controlled atmosphere using multi-sensorial technologies to create a fully immersive dining experience where your emotions can be free and your memories come to life...we call this Cognitive Cuisine.

Technology

Technology in the kitchen as well as the dining room enables eculent’s team of chefs and service professionals to create culinary and sensory experiences never before possible. No longer is the chef limited to culinary ingredients and age-old cooking techniques alone. Now the ability to influence and change the taste of a dish by altering the mood through changes in lighting, sound, ambiance, and smell creates a whole new palate of exploration. Think of these influences as new seasonings that can be added to a recipe. 

The technology employed by the chefs in the kitchen and lab include a Bucchi Rotary Evaporator, Poly Science Anti-Griddle, Liquid Nitrogen Tanks, Harvest Right Freeze Dryer, Poly Science Thermal Circulators, Vegetable Air Dryer, Frix Air Machine, Himalayan Salt Oven, Thermomix, iSi Syphons, Turbo Chef Oven, Wolf Range, Wolf Charbroiler, various coolers and freezers.

The dining room also employs a host of new technologies that all run off of Apple networks and computer systems. Using Phillips Hue lighting system each RGB light in the dining room can be individually controlled using an iPad. This provides immense control over the visual environment and gives the chefs new options in terms of plating and food design. The scent generators are also controlled from an iPad using ScentEvents technology. Each of the eight High Definition displays and projectors are also controlled using Apple TVs and iPad Minis.

The programming for each of the courses has taken over three months to perfect.

 

Emotion

Food always elicits emotions inside of us, but if the food is not spectacular we probably let those emotions go by un-noticed. However, almost everyone can remember at least one spectacular meal in their lifetime. 

At eculent our goal is to bring out your emotions with spectacular meals presented in an artistic and playful manner. 

We elicit those emotions by using color. Color of fresh vegetables or cooked meats, color of the wine or playful cocktails. Color is a deliberate decision with all our dishes.

We can elicit emotions also with texture. Smooth silky ice cream creates a very different emotion than that of a potato chip, While both can be tasty they create a different emotional response.

David Christopher Skinner

EXECUTIVE CHEF

David “Christopher’s” path to becoming the chef and restaurateur he is today involves a circuitous journey. David’s love of food began at the early age of four when he asked his grandmother “Mimi” a pastry chef to make him a carousel cake for his birthday.

4 Years Old

By the age of seven Mimi had taught him the basics of cooking – temperature, time, salt, and passion. She instilled in him the importance of cooking with fresh ingredients and that growing your own vegetables makes the dish even that much better.

At age 12 she gave David his first knife, a Sabatier 8” chef knife along with Julia Child’s two volume set “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”. Within two years David had completed all of the recipes and was ready for the next challenge. That challenge came a few years later when he was able to open his own restaurant called La Vie en Rose (after the Edith Pilaf song), in the back of his grandmother’s gourmet cooking store. David would leave school early each day under the DECA program and prepare for evening service. The small space only housed 10 tables but it was a great learning experience and set the stage for future culinary endeavors.

David and Julia Child

After graduating high school David went on to Oklahoma State University where he majored in Finance and Economics. But the lure of food was too great and after one very late night with a couple of professors he decided to open another restaurant while still in school. To say that David is a bit of an overachiever is like saying the French like wine.

So in 1985 Christopher’s on Washington was opened. By this time David was making frequent trips to California experiencing the new California cuisine at restaurants like Chez Panisse. Christopher’s on Washington featured French infused California cuisine and became a huge success and fine dining destination in a landscape of burgers and beer. David helped to pioneer the use of "farm fresh" ingredients in restaurants and contracted with local farmers for produce and proteins. It was at this time that David started to become known as “Christopher” after the restaurant. Rather than fight it he just went with the flow and now uses the name Christopher with all his food and wine endeavors.

At Christopher's on Washington

Upon graduation David had a real dilemma, continue working the restaurant or use his new degree and go into a different profession. Always up to a challenge he decided to pursue a career in commodity trading. A few years later he was lured into a career with Conoco and eventually built one of the worlds largest energy focused strategy firms. Along the way he wrote several best selling decision-making text books, became an Adjunct professor at Rice University, and helped with a series of business start-ups.

While not cooking professionally over the last two decades he never let his skills or interest dwindle. His dinner parties were legendary and often featured dishes and ingredients he picked up while traveling the world on business. In 2006 he purchased the eculent building along with a bed and breakfast and a year later purchased a local winery. In 2011 he built a new commercial winery, Clear Creek, and started plans for eculent’s menu and design. By the spring of 2014 David was ready to embark on a new journey. David’s passion, an attention to detail, and a love of food has led to his ultimate creation…eculent.

blake lirette

Front of house

The charming Blake Lirette has been part of our team since 2013. Blake is the first and last smiling face you see at eculent.  His path to eculent doesn't tread through kitchens or cuisine, but through people and creativity.

 

Blake has been managing restaurants in the clear lake area for the last 11 years. While being a full time student at the University of Houston, he worked as a new store training manager in four corporations, overseeing 18 different grand openings. Blake opened every bonefish grill in Texas becoming their brand ambassador. It was during a marketing excursion for bonefish that he met Chef David Christopher Skinner. Unbeknownst to Blake, his wine tasting of Clear Creek Vineyards sparked the beginning of his role at eculent.