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Jul 14, 2011

Bringing Science into the Kitchen

Molecular Gastronomy is a term that has been used for years to describe the processes, both physical and chemical, that occur when cooking. The original methods focused on seeing how different ingredients react to being cooked differently relating to our senses and to the texture and taste of the food being cooked.

In recent years, it has become more of a style of cooking as well as a scientific investigation of cooking. Chefs around the world are using scientific processes to alter the physical and chemical appearance and taste of their dishes. As this style of cooking becomes more and more popular, chefs want to differentiate Molecular Gastronomy, the scientific investigation from Molecular Gastronomy, the cooking style. In hope of classifying the cuisine style with its own name, chefs have given it a range of names such as “New Cuisine,” “Progressive Cuisine,” “Culinary Constructivism,” and “Molecular Cooking” among others.

So what exactly is included in Molecular Cooking? One example that I find particularly interesting is using liquid nitrogen to flash freeze and shatter. Though it would be difficult to practice at home, many restaurants are now using liquid nitrogen to enhance dishes. A great idea that I have been lucky enough to taste myself is custom ice cream made with the flash freezing element. You pick your flavor, pick your add-ins and voilà! You have your own personally designed ice cream.

Another derivative from Molecular Gastronomy is the idea of using Carbon Dioxide to make bubbles and foams to add to dishes. Integrating science into the kitchen has led to creativity and innovation that we never imagined possible. Would you be interested in using science to create new dishes in your kitchen? Do you think students should have to learn these practices in Culinary Arts Programs?