Under the Microscope Molecular Gastronomy

I was first introduced to molecular gastronomy several years ago by Andrew Stevens, a very talented young chef who worked as my Executive Chef at Talisman Resort in Kimberley, ON.  Molecular Gastronomy can be best described as a style of cooking using advances in science and technology. This method of cooking is accomplished by using creative ingredients, modern equipment and processes using the application of molecular gastronomy.

Chefs who prepare foods in this manner must have an understanding of the physical and chemical properties of the foods. Food ingredients include agar sodium alginate, an emulsifying agent derived from algae. Food processes include frothing or foaming, flash freezing, sous vide or cryovacing. Cooking equipment is a mix of high-end kitchen appliances and utensils from laboratories such as an ultra sonic bath, gas torch and an anti-griddle to name a few.

The joy of this style of cooking is that as a Chef, it challenges your science and food knowledge, as a customer it creates new physical sensations and mental perceptions with an array of aromas, colors and shapes before your eyes.

The first time Andrew showed me Molecular Gastronomy, I didn’t really understand it and certainly thought it was a culinary fad that would fade quickly. Well I am glad to say I was wrong.

Seven years later, there has been a lot of controversy around molecular gastronomy. Heston Bluementhal, a dedicated ambassador of this style of cooking and its science, has written many books on the subject. Colleges have opened with research into the topic including one in Prince Edward Island. I am personally still not convinced, but it has become part of the curriculum in culinary colleges so it is here to stay. If you have eaten at a restaurant with a molecular style please leave your comments below.

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