Today, some questions are answered, in view of a trip to Singapore, at then end of June
1. In recent media reports, it was written that “note-by-note” cooking approach can “stave off energy crisis, eliminate food waste and end world hunger”. Can you please explain more about the NbN approach and its potential?
There are two different ideas: note by note cooking, which is a new way of cooking, and the Note by Note Projects, that include note by note cooking, but aims are improving the efficiency of our food production systems.Let's tell the story this way: today, we are 7 billions humans, and about 1 billion is starving. In 2050, there will be 10 billions, so that we have to plan methods for feeding everybody.
More or less, the agreement is that spoilage is to be fought, and it is true tht if 30% of the producted food is spoiled, avoiding this would improve greatly the efficiency of agriculture.
One way to fight spoilage is to “fractionate” at the farm, which means separating water, and making proteins, sugars, amino acids, phenolics, etc.
This would avoid the transportation of fresh products that spoils... and means transporting water (a truck full of tomatoes means a truck full of 95 % water!).
Moreover, as the Minister of Argentina for agriculture told me, this would have the advantage to make prices more even, which is good for the farmers.
Indeed, In the NbN projects, the farmers will enrich by selling new products... but they would have to make a small fractionation step at the farm... with hardware already existing (and cheap).
This being said, the citizens would receive powders (nowadays, you can already buy tons of proteins from plants)... and they will have to cook : this is exactly Note by note cooking.
By the way, a very fresh information: recent dinners by chefs in restaurants showed that NbN dinners cost twice less and need twice less time to prepare !
Indeed, to tell the truth, in the beginning (1994), I had only the idea that a more rational way of cooking was possible. But more and more, it evolved. First, I considered that a new form of culinary style was possible, and then the many advantages of note by note cooking appeared.
And finally, I can tell you that, being a Gourmand, I was so happy of the Note by Note meal that my friend Pierre Gagnaire served to the New York Times journalist, when they came to Paris to see me about NbN: I am having meals frequently at Pierre's... but this meal was the most exciting, because of entirely new flavours !
- Can this approach be applicable to the F&B industry in Asia? If yes, how can this approach be integrated with or adopted to Asian cuisine?
Of course, very easily. And the interesting thing is to see how different culinary artists will produce different cuisine. Indeed we can envision “asian NbN cuisine”, or “western NbN cuisine”, etc. (you see, I make a difference between cooking = technique, and cuisine=style)
- You are scheduled to give a speech to the graduating culinary and pastry batches at Singapore’s At-Sunrice Global Chef Academy this month. Can you share with us some of the advice that you will impart to these newly graduated chefs?
Of course, the main ideas are work, loyalty, kindness, care, boldness... But I know that I shall have to explain that cooking is first love, then art and finally technique.
The technical component of cooking is important, for sure, but it is not difficult... if you accept to detach from tradition (I am not saying that tradition is useless or bad, but I say that tradition is the sum of the successes and advances of the past ; our Great Ancestors would be angry if they saw that we did not contribute to the advancement of culinary art).
But the question of art is most important. It is not difficult and it is not important to grill meat or boil vegetables, but rather the issue is to determine how to do it and why.
Indeed I realize more and more that one main issue around is that the goals are not clear, and it has to be very clear ! Indeed, imagine that you are in Paris ; if you don't understand clearly that your goal is Singapore, you will perhaps arrive in Hong Kong, or Tokyo, but not in Singapore. And it's only when the goal is clear that you can determine the way to reach it. In Greek, the way is “methodon”, method. Yes, when you have the goal, you can try to find the way, and this is “strategy”. And they you can implement, and this is tactic.
Coming back to hard “work”, or to innovation, creativity, etc. , the idea lies in this sentence: “Il faut tendre avec efforts vers l'infaillibilité sans y prétendre”.
And by the way, if I have time, I shall tell them the wonderful story of Michael Faraday. As an orphan, he was going once per week, in the evening, in “Improvement of the mind” sessions... and he became the one of the greatest physical chemists of all times.
But I know that I shall also have to make it very clear to explain the difference between Molecular gastronomy, molecular cooking, mocular cuisine, and note by note cooking/cuisine.
By the way, I would be very happy if I could stimulate the creation of a laboratory for molecular gastronomy in a chemistry department of Singapore
- How do you see the future of food preparation? Do you think that chefs in Asia should create more molecular gastronomy offerings in their menu?
Indeed you confluse (sorry to tell you that) molecular gastronomy and cooking.
Molecular gastronomy is one science of nature, as physics, chemistry, biology. It is for scientists, not for chefs. Molecular gastronomy cannot be in a menu.
Molecular cuisine, instead, is cooking, for chefs, not for scientists... but this is 35 years old... and this is why we should move fast toward Nbn (like jazz is 50 years old, and new music can be introduced).
The future of food preparation : certainly NbN for the reason given above about 10 billions people on the earth.
Finally “should” Asian chefs offer more molecular cuisine: no, because molecular cuisine is old.
“Should” chef offer NbN ? If they want. The question is art : an artist does what he/she perceives, feels...
But it's true that if a chef serves NbN, this is NEW, and only the new can attract journalists... and guests.
- What do you think chefs in Asia should do to get more diners to try molecular gastronomy offerings?
Again : confusion between molecular gastronomy (science), on one hand, and cooking, on the other hand. But I don't see the difference between this question and the previous ?
- What are your future plans concerning NbN approach and molecular gastronomy? Will you be participating in more events here in the region in connection with promoting these culinary disciplines?
For molecular gastronomy, I am doing efforts to spread this science all over the world... and it works well. More and more, in science and technology universities, laboratories for molecular gastronoy are created.
For NbN : for sure, we have to be ready in 2050, and I am promoting all over the world this new way of cooking, with about 1 new countrie per two months. Right now, I am considering how to change the International Contest for Note by Note Cooking (we do tomorrow the 6th).
More events in Asia? Why not, if people in Asia are interested.
(but remember: molecular gastronomy is not a culinary discipline, it's science ;-) ).