Marc Murphy is preparing to cook where he has never cooked before — in deep space, or rather, in Gateway: The Deep Space Complex.
The newest attraction at NASA's Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida is set to host "Taste of Space: Celebrity Chef Edition," (opens in new tab) a star-studded food demonstration event featuring Murphy and fellow acclaimed chefs Rocco DiSpirito and Duff Goldman. The culinary evening is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 4 from 6:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. EDT.
"I'm extremely excited," said Murphy in an interview with collectSPACE.com. "I have actually never been there. I'm jazzed!"
A chef and restauranteur who has worked in some of the most highly esteemed kitchens in the world and who today is one of New York's most celebrated chefs, Murphy is a judge on the Food Network shows "Chopped" and "Chopped Junior" and has appeared on "Guy's Grocery Games," "Guy's Ranch Kitchen," "Beat Bobby Flay" and several national news and talk shows.
"Taste of Space," though, is his first taste of space.
"I couldn't do it — I would go crazy," said Murphy of the prospects of him living in space. "I need a lot of stimulation in all different ways, and food obviously is one of them. I love flavors and I love textures and I love food, basically."
Space food has come a long way (opens in new tab) since the early days of tubes and cubes, though both are still part of astronauts' menus. In addition to dehydrated (or freeze-dried) entrees, thermostablized selections are also available, similar to military Meals-Ready-to-Eat (MREs). Periodic resupply missions can also bring a limited supply of fresh foods, such as fruits, vegetables and snacks.
"They must be able to send things up there that have a lot of flavor and things that just excite the palate, because if you think about being in a space station for that long, you need some type of stimulus, even things to talk about with your colleagues, like, 'The sauce in this thing is really interesting, the complexities of the flavor,'" said Murphy.
During the "Taste of Space: Celebrity Chef Edition" event, Murphy, together with DiSpirito ("Restaurant Divided," "Tournament of Champions") and Goldman ("Ace of Cakes," "Kids Baking Championship") will demonstrate their cooking techniques as guests mingle among the cutting-edge space exploration innovations and designs that are on display in Gateway: The Deep Space Complex (opens in new tab).
Throughout the evening, attendees will be served samples of the chefs' dishes, followed by the reveal of an "out-of-this-world" cake designed by Goldman (opens in new tab). Between bites and their assisting the chefs, former space shuttle astronauts Bruce Melnick, Scott Altman and Sandra Magnus will pose for photos.
"When you think about it, food is an important part of our lives," Magnus wrote while aboard the International Space Station in 2009, when she made headlines for her experiments "cooking in space."
"The variety of food is pretty good, and you can increase the variety by mixing and matching things, and in my case, doing some space 'cooking,'" she wrote. "The dishes I have made have had a high sauce content so they could then be easily eaten or moved around, or, put on a tortilla."
For "Taste in Space: Celebrity Chef Edition," Murphy plans to demonstrate recipes that the guests can prepare at their terrestrial homes.
"When it comes to demonstrating to a public like this, I'm very conscious of trying to do stuff people will go home and be able to replicate, because my goal as a chef isn't just to cook for people, it's also to maybe teach them something that they'll actually go do," he said. "My grandmother's ratatouille recipe is my favorite thing, so I'm going to make that because it's something I think excites the palate and it's got a nice story behind it for me, personally."
Tickets for "Taste of Space: Celebrity Chef Edition" (opens in new tab) are $175 per person and include two alcoholic drink tickets, photo opportunities with the astronauts, a collectible event lapel pin and a commemorative piece signed by the chefs and the astronauts. The event is is part of "Taste of Space: Fall Bites! (opens in new tab)," the complex's annual food festival, currently underway.
A premium experience that included a dinner created by the chefs and autograph opportunities with both the astronauts and chefs was offered for $499 per person but at the time of this article had already sold out.