May 19, 2007

Molecular Gastronomy is the application of science to culinary practice and more generally gastronomical phenomena. See Wikipedia for more information on molecular and physical gastronomy.

This isn’t that new either. One could even argue that all cooking is molecular gastronomy because all cooking and all manipulation of food is the application of scientific principles to cooking. And how does this differ from Food Science? That is, the fake chemically food found in Burger King or other fast food products?

These questions can best be answered by the Statement on the ‘new cookery’ written by Ferran Adria of El Bulli, Heston Blumenthal of the Fat Duck, Thomas Keller of the French Laundry and Per Se, and writer Harold McGee. To sum up: “Three basic principles guide our cooking: excellence, openness, and integrity; our cooking values tradition, builds on it, and along with tradition is part of the ongoing evolution of our craft; we embrace innovation – new ingredients, techniques, appliances, information, and ideas – whenever it can make a real contribution to our cooking; we believe that cooking can affect people in profound ways, and that a spirit of collaboration and sharing is essential to true progress in developing this potential.”

That don’t sound like no Burger King or McDonald’s.

For me, since I change my cuisine and my menu every year, molecular gastronomy allows me, using nontraditional means, to create new flavor combinations and textures. In other words, what I normally do with my more traditional cooking but in a less traditional way.

Since, unlike many chefs, I understand why flavors taste as they do, why cooking does what it does, I am always doing “molecular gastronomy.” It helps to be a scientist or have a scientific background.

However, since I’ll be showcasing some new dishes and some new techniques, I’ll be going to a four course menu, with maybe a cheese course, since you know how I like a good cheese course, so that may be 5 small courses, each about the size of an appetizer, on those days when the theme kicks in. On the other days, it’ll be more traditional cooking and only three courses.

For those that don’t know, what I normally do here, every year or sometimes even every season, we have a theme. This year it is upscale comfort food. Last year it was Spanish and Latin American and the year before that it was Southern Italian. Usually, I have 3 dinners a week that are theme based and the other 3 dinners are my signature dishes. So, next year, we’ll have Molecular Gastronomy for two or three nights and the rest will be the standards.

And as you know, every Sunday I serve the maple salmon each year with a different preparation. Next year I’ll be doing salmon two ways. One way will be grilled and the other will be as a salmon mousse. It’s incredible. You’ll love it. I’ll be doing a maple garlic tuile to go with the mousse.

And the desserts will be fabulous. I am doing one molecular gastronomy dessert now. It seems strange to be talking this way, but appropriate. My warm chocolate foam is just that. Also, the dacquoise with the amaretto caviar is also an example.