Cooking with Lightning

Steaks were seared in microseconds with the world's first lightning cookery - Published in Wired Magazine, June 2014

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Using the power of lightning was once a staple of science fiction. It’s a readily available energy source, totally renewable and phenomenally sustainable. Bompas & Parr worked with scientists at the University of Southampton’s Tony Davies High Voltage Laboratory to create the world's first lightning cooked food.

The lightning heats through the resistance of the medium of passage to electrical charge. The greater the resistance, the more intense the heat. So when lightning passes through air it can reach 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit, five times hotter than the surface of the Sun. Our steaks were seared in microseconds.

The process was pioneered in 2014 when Bompas & Parr worked with the University of Southampton’s Tony Davies High Voltage Laboratory to cook with lightning for an article for WIRED. Working with the lab’s scientists, we generated an alternating current through a transformer which was channeled though a gap of eight inches surging at 200,000 volts. This is well within the average strength of a lightning strike. Steaks were inserted into the surging bolt of electricity. They tasted good though a little metallic. |f they aged steak was any fresher it would have convulsed as the lightning passed across it causing the muscle to contract.

Sam Bompas partner at Bompas & Parr comments: ‘The recipe came to me in a dream. Perhaps in the future lightning will find its way into every imaginable culinary situation.’

Editorial photography by Charlie Surbey / Wired © The Condé Nast Publications Ltd.
Behind the scenes photography by Sam Bompas.