Forget about grilling your steak in a traditional style using charcoal or gas grills. Syracuse University’s Professors Bob Wysocki and Jeff Karson have shown a new way to cook steak over molten lava. They have mixed the art and science together with a man-made lava flow. They use molten basalt to make their synthetic lava flow over various surfaces in order to cook steaks.
It’s spectacular to watch the molten lava flowing out and cooking your rib-eye steak. Most ovens cannot go beyond 750 degrees Fahrenheit. However, this volcano-style grill can be as hot as 2000 degrees. But it’s not that simple to set up: the furnace you need to melt the rock into lava is about the size of a car.
Sam Bompas, a British designer had one of the first experiences of cooking with real lava on an active composite volcano, Sakurajima in Japan. He was able to cook his lunch over the volcano after crossing the safety barriers and enjoyed the experience so much that after returning back to the UK, he considered making his experience a reality for the masses. He was curious if there was a real way of making synthetic lava available to a large audience and let them enjoy the experience of cooking their food over molten lava.
Professor Wysocki held the answers to his questions with his experience in creating artificial volcanoes and man-made lava with basaltic rock. He melts 1.1 billion year old basalt in an industrial bronze furnace and has conducted more than a hundred lava pours for the science and art with his team. But he probably never considered pouring lava to cook a steak!
Over the 2100 degree molten hot lava, the steak cooks almost instantly, taking about a minute to reach a medium-rare state. Imagine how much cooking time this would save for serving a large group!
However, you might have to reconsider if you want to host a lava barbecue night for your friends and family, because you won’t find this equipment at your local hardware store. In addition to the massive furnace, you will need custom-made protective clothing, jerkins, aprons, leather gauntlets and other protective measures. Without these precautions, your leather may start smelling like burnt pork!
The Syracuse University Lava Project is a collaboration between sculptor Bob Wysocki (Assistant Professor, Department of Art) and geologist Jeff Karson (Professor, Department of Earth Sciences) at Syracuse University. Video and photo courtesy of Syracuse University and Jenny Wysocki.