dcsimg

Molecular Gastronomy: New Cooking Techniques with Familiar Food Flavors

In the Fire

Imagine an orb shaped dish brimming with fluorescent orange foam is placed in front of you. As you place the spoon on your tongue, the foam vanishes leaving behind nothing more than the essence of fresh, sweet carrots lingering in the back of your throat.

Culinary Arts

A single peeled grape, still attached to its stem, is dipped in creamy peanut butter and then wrapped in a gossamer sheath of brioche. In a play on a childhood classic, it elicits at once the comfort of familiarity and the shock of the completely unexpected.

This is molecular gastronomy, the trendy new chapter of the ever-progressing culinary movement.

Molecular Gastronomy: What's in a Name?

Molecular gastronomy, a term often considered to be vague and off-putting, was coined in the 1990's by a duo of culinarily enthusiastic scientists. Ultimately, the term came to define an entire movement, although many in the field prefer the terms "post-modern cooking" or "experimental cooking."

The Kitchen: A Chef's Laboratory

The term molecular gastronomy conjures images of laboratory derived experiments more than a dining experience, but in most cases it's actually both. Many practitioners do create in laboratories, which are simply modern kitchens outfitted with new high-tech equipment.

  • Anti-Griddle. A reverse cook top that instantaneously, at minus 30 degrees, transforms liquids to frozen solids.
  • Sous vides cookers. Food encased in plastic is placed in water and slowly cooked at a precisely maintained temperature.
  • CO2 dispenser. Converts practically any liquid into an ethereal froth or foam.

Progress for the Food Movement's Sake

Despite the ultra-modern equipment and strangely presented food, the goal is not to completely alter the concept of cooking, but rather to find a new way of expanding on a foundation that has been building for centuries.

Ferran Adrià, the chef/owner of the restaurant El Bulli, explains it as a way of using "new techniques to elicit new emotions." He considers this type of cuisine a play on tradition, one which is at once both familiar and jolting.

Many of Adrià's contemporaries agree that the transformation of technique and application is the key to progressing the food movement. While the tastes and flavors remain familiar, it is the form, the presentation, and the manner of preparation and consumption that are unique.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Perhaps the concept is best explained in a film called "Decoding Ferran Adrià." The film documents chef Anthony Bourdain's visit to Spain, on which he followed Adrià through his process from inspiration to inception. Mid-way through the film Bourdain dines at El Bulli and before entering the restaurant he is nervous, not knowing what to expect and fearful that he just won't get it.

As the meal progresses, however, Bourdain's facial expressions alone seemingly capture the essence of the entire philosophy. With each bite his expression shifts from fear to curiosity to confusion and ultimately morphs into to a huge smile that at once exudes the whimsy of childlike wonderment and the realization that the concept does make sense. You cannot help but smile along with him.

The intent of molecular gastronomy is consistent with the chapters of the culinary movement that have preceded it--innovation, amusement, inspiration, and ultimately pleasure.

Sources:

Wall Street Journal
Kymos.org
The Observer

About the Author:

Browse Culinary Arts Schools & Colleges

Refine School Matches
Hide filters
  • SUBJECT Clear All

    See More

  • DEGREE

    See More

  • PROGRAM TYPE

  • START TIME

    LOCATION
    Please enter valid US or Canada Zip.
            Results open in new window

            Searching Searching ...

            Matching School Ads
            5 Program(s) Found
            • Alumni have appeared in reality competition shows such as Top Chef and Project Runway.
            • Has a team of about 4,000 faculty members focused on helping students tap opportunities in a marketplace driven by ideas.
            • Offers programs in design, media arts, fashion, and culinary.
            • Provides program coordinators who work with students to ensure they have the learning materials, assignments, facilities, and faculty to get the most out of the program.
            • Over 50 campus locations nationwide.
            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            5 Program(s) Found
            • Hands-on culinary education with focused attention on each student
            • An ACCSC School of Excellence with multiple “Best Vocational Cooking School” awards*
            • 15,000 graduates, including celebrities like Bobby Flay, David Chang, and Christina Tosi*
            • Programs in Culinary Entrepreneurship, Professional Culinary Arts, Professional Pastry Arts, and much more
            • Campuses in New York and Silicon Valley with nearby housing available
            Show more [+]
            5 Program(s) Found
            • Received the 2015 and 2013 “Cooking School of the Year” Award of Excellence from the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP).
            • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
            • Externship opportunities are available at numerous famous New York City restaurants.
            • Campus is located near downtown Manhattan, within walking distance of many popular attractions such as the Radio City Music Hall.
            Show more [+]
            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            2 Program(s) Found
            L'Ecole Culinaire , Kansas City
            • Offers educational opportunities for the aspiring, career-minded chef.
            • Students are trained by professional chefs and spend the majority of their final term working in the campus restaurant to learn all phases of the culinary industry.
            • St. Louis campus offers new Food Truck Entrepreneurship courses.
            • Has a student-run food truck that tours around St. Louis.
            • All campuses have a public restaurant where food is prepared and served by students.
            Show more [+]
            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            4 Program(s) Found
            Auguste Escoffier Schools of Culinary Arts , Online (campus option available)
            • Culinary Arts program includes the 3-week Farm To Table® Experience, where students gain a direct, in-depth look at where food comes from.
            • Numerous scholarship opportunities and financial aid are available to students who qualify.
            • Accreditation from the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET), and the Council on Occupational Education (COE).
            • 2 campuses located in Boulder, Colorado and Austin, Texas.
            Show more [+]
            Good for Working Adults
            • Online Courses
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            1 Program(s) Found

            Lackawanna College is the premier, private, accredited two-year college serving the people of northeastern Pennsylvania. With a focus on keeping higher education affordable and accessible to our immediate community, Lackawanna draws 80 percent of its student population right from our own region.

            With a main campus situated in downtown Scranton, Lackawanna’s expanding footprint also includes satellite centers in Hawley, Hazleton, New Milford, and Towanda.

            5 Program(s) Found

            Sullivan University is a private institution of higher learning dedicated to providing educational enrichment opportunities for the intellectual, social and professional development of its students.

            SPEAK TO AN ADVISOR 1.844.285.6104