In March, I took my first bite of molecular gastronomy at moto restaurant with fellow IACP members. Located in Chicago’s trendy Fulton Market District, Michelin-starred moto is one of the nation’s premier dining establishments in the U.S and around the world. Celebrity Chef/restaurant owner Homaro Cantu (Iron Chef America winner) and Richard Farina (Top Chef Season 9 cheftestant) gave the personal tour.
Molecular gastronomy blends physics and chemistry to transform the tastes and textures of food. (molecularrecipes.com). Honestly, as I explored this culinary frontier, I was a little nervous about molecular gastronomy, especially when a plate of “miracle berries” was passed around the room. I should have left any fear at the front door. This whole culinary experience was delightful, and it involved a lot of liquid nitrogen. Here are 3 things I learned (and tasted) about molecular gastronomy: 1) Miracle Berries change the taste of food from sour to sweet! This is a fun addition to your next dinner party! This M Berry is not a drug and you can buy it on Amazon! http://www.amazon.com/mberry-MFT10-Miracle-Fruit-Tablets/dp/B001LXYA5Q It’s a natural plant in capsule form that dissolves on your tongue and changes the taste of food from sour to sweet. But of course I was the exception! Very few people in the world are “miracle berry resistant”, and I am one of them. So when I took a big bite into the slice of lemon it didn’t taste like lemonade! Nor did the sour cream taste like a sweet pudding.
2) Liquid Nitrogen is key ingredient to transform the preparation, taste and texture of food. I don’t think this is something you should try at home. Head to moto for the fun! Chef Farina sprayed liquid nitrogen onto the biodegradable packing peanuts and it basically caramelized them. How fun to actually bite into a crispy biodegradable package peanut! Everyone had fun blowing “smoke” from his/her mouth while crunching on the sweet “dessert.” (I still can’t believe I ate a packaging product! But it was food!) 3) Key Players and Chefs of molecular gastronomy include the following:
- Herve This. Considered to be the “father of molecular gastronomy,” this scientist views this method of cooking as a way to help feed the huge population growth of future generations. With the concern of food shortage in the future, molecular gastronomy can help reduce percentage of product spoilage from farm to table and creates new products. Here is a link to his interview with HuffPost http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/07/herve-this-molecular-gastronomy_n_4234423.html
- Chef Ferran Adria. He is considered to be one of the world’s best chefs, and Gourmet magazine calls him “The Salvador Dali of the kitchen.” His restaurant, elBulli receives 2 million requests for reservations each year! He is best known for creating culinary foam. Here are his excellent books: http://www.amazon.com/Ferran-Adria/e/B002NRLXD6
- Chef Grant Achatz. Based in Chicago, this award winning chef/owner was greatly influenced by Chef Ferran. Alinea https://content.alinearestaurant.com/html/index.html and Next https://www.nextrestaurant.com/website/faq are his highly acclaimed restaurants in Chicago. His autobiography Life on the Line is an excellent read! http://www.amazon.com/Life-Line-Chasing-Greatness-Redefining/dp/1592406971
- Chef Homaro Cantu. Iron Chef and owner of moto and Ing, Chef Cantu and his Chef de Cuisine, Richard Farina are bringing great adventure to the fine dining experience. And in their laboratory and kitchen, these chefs focus on seasonal and sustainable ingredients. There is even an indoor farm with microgreens! http://motorestaurant.com
Have you ever experimented with molecular gastronomy at home or in a restaurant? Please share your culinary experience in the comment section. Savor the day!.