You may have heard of the Solar Impulse, the first solar-powered airplane that makes trips around the world. Now we have the Solar Cooking Explorer, a French hot air balloon whose objective is to prove that the sun can also be a future solution when it comes to cooking. Coal, gas, electricity… or the sun! There are multiple sources of energy used for preparing food and all of them have an impact on the planet in one way or another. The only one that is free, without any impact on the environment is solar energy. A few seasoned hobbyists have already traded in their barbecues for solar installations to capture heat and cook their steaks during the height of the summer season. But can the usefulness of solar cooking be more than anecdotal? A unique challenge aims to to prove that this energy can be considered a real cooking method in the future.
The setup of the challenge is rather unusual: a kitchen whose cooking burners will be powered by the sun will be installed on board a hot air balloon. This is the challenge of Chef Jean-Baptiste Martin, chef of the Maison Martin brand, who concocts hot sauces, and Joannes Richard, chef and winner of a competition for the top burger in France in 2021. For this occasion, a burger will serve as the test material. Once the balloon, which will be managed by Olivier Cuenot, president of France’s association of balloonists, has reached the right altitude, the parabolas fixed on it for the occasion will have the mission of capturing enough solar energy to activate the cooking process and cook the patty from the stack.
The challenge is set to be undertaken between May 30 and June 12, depending on weather conditions, in France’s Jura region.