Chef Iradh Herrera from Rosewood Bar & Grill pulled an elastic circle of mozzarella from a pan full of murky, white water, stretched it between his fingers and gently placed it over a canister.
Pressing down on a button, the cheese — which looked more like a goo — slowly started to expand, getting thinner and thinner as it stretched, eventually becoming what Herrera said was a "mozzarella balloon."
Herrera was one of seven local chefs and culinary groups to prepare odd-ball treats for guests at the World of Wonders Science Museum's Gastronomy Night fundraiser on Saturday.
Using unique methods of cooking, each chef created various appetizers and desserts for guests who came out to help raise money for new exhibits for the museum.
"I wanted to make something that no one else was able to do," Herrera said. "The balloons are unique, and the carbon dioxide we use to fill the mozzarella with is garlic infused, so the guests get a surprise."
The roughly 160 guests in attendance Saturday night clapped, sighed and smiled as they were given a lot of surprising things to eat and drink, all while examining current and potentially new exhibits.
Museum board members were hoping to raise roughly $20,000 from the event to maybe be able to purchase just one new exhibit, board president Sally Snyde said.
From an 8-foot indoor cyclone which cost $30,000 to a rolling table top that revealed gravitational and magnetic properties to onlookers, Snyde said the exhibits were not cheap.
And with the museum no longer contracted with the San Francisco Exploratorium, any exhibits the board hopes to bring in will have to be done entirely on their own dime.
"This event is a great way to support something that is so impressive here in Lodi," said guest Ann Forshey, of Lodi. "I am so glad to be able to come out here and show my support. A lot can be done to help the younger generations who could really benefit from a place like this."
Be it a new way to cook fish or a fun way to carbonate wine, guests were not without their fair share of stimulating discovery, a major mission of the science museum.
Chef Fabrice Dubuc of Wine & Roses showed guests how to cook fresh scallops directly from the East Coast in a plastic Ziplock bag.
Infusing his scallops with essence of nectarine and apple wood chips, Dubuc said the process was a little slow, but that the crowd around his table did not seem to mind.
"The flavor is so much more intense," he said. "I have been cooking things like this for years, but it's always great to see more people discover this technique."
Contact reporter Katie Nelson at firstname.lastname@example.org.