Denver’s very own Willy Wonka is at it again: On June 7, chef-wizard Ian Kleinman will reopen the Inventing Room Dessert Shop in Sunnyside with several new tricks and treats in store. The experience will be nothing like going out for a traditional scoop or cone, as he has reimagined his store as a small-group event space instead, featuring a guided tour through what he’s calling “The Science of Desserts.”

Here’s how it works: You (and up to nine friends or family members; $15 per person) reserve a 30-minute time slot in which to visit the shop. You park for free in the underground lot on the west side of the building on West 29th Avenue. You wear masks, as do Ian and his wife Stacey. The next half hour unfolds as Ian explains what he knows about liquid nitrogen, crystal formation in sugar and chocolate, and how bioluminescence works, plying you with creative sweet treats that reflect what you’ve learned.

Here’s how it feels: Safe, for starters. Not only do the Kleinmans clean and sanitize the entire shop between each guest appointment, but there are floor markings indicating where you can stand and comfortably eat your Oreo Space Foam and Really, Really Cold Cheetos with your mask off. Breezes flow in from the open garage door wall, too. 

Chef Ian Kleinman explains liquid nitrogen at the Inventing Room Dessert Shop. Photo by Denise Mickelsen

The new tour also feels just right in terms of balancing the science and the utterly delicious desserts the Kleinmans feed you while you listen to Ian’s demonstration. Right away, you’ll find yourself munching on freezing-cold liquid nitrogen salted caramel corn or Cheetos that billow smoke as you chew, touching and smelling and tasting as Ian illuminates the science behind his innovative techniques. 

Liquid nitrogen is the star of the show and the first topic Ian will explain. He’ll make impossibly smooth, creamy ice cream with it in less than a minute; turn balls of flavored whipped cream into meringuelike clouds he calls Space Foam (Oreo for the kids; rose-scented baklava or, later this summer, Colorado peach with butterscotch caramel for the adults); and even chill metal superconductors in the stuff so that when paired with magnets, they float in mid air.  

Candy and crystal structure are next on the syllabus. A complicated topic, the beauty of the guided-tour set up is that Ian can explain concepts at both high levels and low, answering questions from adults and children in the group with ease. And anyone can see how cool it is that he now makes lollipops in the shape of Game Boys, complete with rice paper screens and full-color Super Mario scenes, and edible wallpaper just like what you imagine from watching or reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

The next stop of the tour takes place behind a flowing blackout curtain, where a blacklight illuminates beakers and gizmos, puffs of vanilla cotton candy and chunks of honeycomb, all glowing in vibrant neon pinks, yellows, greens, and blues from edible glow-in-the-dark powder. It’s dazzling and delicious; you and your little ones will talk for days about the fact that the nontoxic, non-radioactive powder can absorb and store ambient light for up to a decade… and that you just ate it. 

Finally, chocolate: Most of us already know that chocolate is magical, but Ian drives that home by making you a liquid nitrogen-enhanced brookie (a brownie-cookie hybrid) sundae, topped with deep, dark chocolate ice cream, torched marshmallow cream, and a squiggly, crunchy chocolate shell. 

For those of you not yet ready or able to experience the Science of Desserts in person, the Inventing Room has another new service: Golden Ticket Air, which delivers desserts via drone. That’s right, you can send up to two pounds of cotton candy, lollipops, caramel corn, honeycomb, and unicorn rice krispie treats to anyone in Denver for any occasion—or simply to spread sweet cheer.

The Inventing Room Dessert Shop will open on June 7, Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Reservations are available on the hour. 4433 West 29th Ave., #101,  303-960-6656

Denise Mickelsen
Denise Mickelsen
Denise Mickelsen is 5280’s former food editor. She oversaw all of 5280’s food-related coverage from October 2016 to March 2021.