jeudi 14 juin 2018
Questions and answers !
Could you give a brief explanation of who you are and what you do?
I am a physical chemist, one of the two founders of molecular gastronomy, one of the two creators of molecular cooking, but the founder of note by note cooking.
As I am saying that we are what we do, I have to add that I spend my days doing science with my scientific research team (molecular gastronomy) in the laboratory. My goal is to make scientific discoveries... and I do some, such as quite recently the whole set of possible gels, but also "dynagels"... and many other.
I pursue many scientific questions as well, because I dream day and night to make new discoveries.
As a very side activity, I am inventing one new food preparation per month for now more than 18 years, and I give them first to my friend Pierre Gagnaire (they are freely given on his internet site.
Nowadays I am trying to help the creation of molecular gastronomy teams in all universities of the world,.
And I promote note by note cooking as well.
For people who might not know, what exactly is molecular gastronomy?
Simple : molecular gastronomy is a scientific activity, which means that we are looking for the mechanisms of phenomena. More precisely, we are looking for the mechanisms of phenomena occurring when one cooks.
For example, if a cake expands during cooking, we ask the question "why", and we study it with the scientific method... in the hope to make a scientific discovery. Of course, we are happy to know why, but the goal is more fundamental.
How did you get the idea to start experimenting with food?
Because in 1980, I was preparing a cheese soufflé, and the recipe was advising to add the yolks two by two. Why two by two, and note four by four, or one at a time?
This question was the beginning of my research focused on "culinary precisions" (tips, proverbs, old wives tales, etc.)
I must say also that, at that time, I was preparing my meal in a very small room, in which I had my personal lab... and this is why I had the other idea to use hardware from chemistry in order to cook, which enventually led to molecular cooking ( I introduced the idea in 1980, but I gave the name in 1998 only).
Whats the craziest dish you've ever made and can you walk us through your thought process for that dish?
Crazy? I don't know what it means, but I can tell you that I was very happy the morning (5.00 AM) when I made the first "chocolate chantilly" ! In particular because I had take the bet, against a world known pastry chef, that it would work, and he thought that no, because -he told me- "one cannot add water to melted chocolate". Indeed, he did not undesrtand that I was not proposing to add water to chocolate, but rather chocolate to water.
Other funny ideas : uncooking the egg (I did it first in 1997), or puffed butter, or the "ultima sweet", or "wind crystals"...
But one important thing : you ask me about "crazy dishes"... whereas I am more interested in wonderful scientific discoveries ! For example, my recent demonstration that there are only slightly less than 1500 different kinds of gels of class 2. Or the discovery of dynagels !
The process of invention? It is always so obvious that it is as for magicians: one is deceived when one knows the trick.
For example, for the chocolate chantilly, I was considering whipped cream. It is obtained from milk: it is an emulsion. When it rests, you get cream, which is a more concentrated emulsion. And when you whip, you make a foamy emulsion. I thought that you need water and fat to make the "artificial milk", and I realized that chocolate is mostly fat, hence the idea.
For uncooking the eggs, I simply wanted to understand why eggs can coagulate, and more precisely why they become rubbery after more than 10 minutes. The invention of the "perfect egg" (today I call them "eggs at 6X°C") was a consequence.
What are you looking forward to trying in Singapore?
This is very clear :
1. I hope that a molecular gastronomy laboratory will be created, and active, in scientific research
2. I hope that note by note cooking can spread
3. I hope that chefs will appreciate the distribution of knowledge, in order to make the technical component of cooking more easy... so that they can focus on "art" !
4. I promote all over the world the idea that Knowledge is very important, because it can be a link between people from different culture. I should even say that I would love to have more rationality in this world. And we have to fight intolerance, and ignorance, for example.
How would you apply molecular gastronomy to Singapore cuisine?
Very simple. Indeed, the question of Singapore cuisine is primarly a question of art. And I shall explain that here, art does not mean "beautiful to see", but rather beautiful to eat. Culinary art has to focus on the flavour, not the ingredients or the appearance. But at the same time, artists are humans with a culture, that is with a certain way of making "artifacts", pieces of art. The technique is common to all countries: grilling, boiling, braising, whipping, infusing, macerating, emulsifying, dividing...
Over technique, there is art, and also love (social component). We have to analyse in order to understand... and improve !
Molecular gastronomy as a technique doesn't seem as popular in restaurants today as compared to five years ago, why do you think this is so? Or has molecular gastronomy changed in the past few years?
Excuse me to tell you that you that you make a confusion, because you write that molecular gastronomy is a technique. No : molecular gastronomy is a science of nature, as I said before. The first technique that was devised from molecular gastronomy was molecular cooking, and it became a culinary style under the name of molecular cuisine. But this is the past !
Nowadays, the advanced culinary artists focus on "note by note cooking", i.e. really "synthetic food". Much more exciting.
But let's come back to your question : molecular cuisine not as popular as before ? Yes... because it is everywhere and nobody can display it as new... but all chefs have siphons, low temperature cooking, various gelling agents, etc. A chef saying to journalists that he is a pionneer because he uses such technique would be ridiculous. But molecular cooking is everywhere.
And today, the novelty is not to use molecular cooking techniques with wild ingredients, as it was done some years ago. To my knowlege, the only real novelty is note by note cooking... and trust me: there will be a shock wave about that in the next years. Only i 2018, there were events about note by note cooking (I invented it in 1994) in Alsace, Poland, Greece... and today in Singapore !
What are your views on the rising locavore movement in the food scene these days?
As the head of the Human Department of the French Academy of Agriculture, I know that we shall have a huge problem in the next future, of feeding people. All possibilities will have to be explored, but note by note cooking is a solution, and not locavority.
How can we work towards more sustainability in the F&B industry?
Note by note cooking, I tell you !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!