What is Molecular Gastronomy?

With cooking shows & restaurants bombarding us with new and obscure buzz words and techniques, many of us are left wondering when food became so complicated. For those of us that aren’t an aspiring chef – Here’s everything you need to know about Molecular Gastronomy.

This relatively new culinary innovation is also a discipline practised by scientists. It studies the physical and chemical processes that occur while preparing different types of foods and uses scientific techniques to create new and entirely experimental dishes.

The term was coined as far back as 1988 by 2 Oxford physicists, Nicholas Kurti and Herve This. So, what is molecular gastronomy in its modern-day form? You’ll find chefs wielding liquid nitrogen, pipettes, edible gels, blowtorches, centrifuges and an assortment of other equipment you’d usually expect to find in a science laboratory!

Chefs use this specialized equipment and complicated techniques to push the limits of taste, texture, and perception. For instance, a Molecular Gastronomy menu may feature, Flaming sorbet that does not melt. Ice-cream that stretches like bubblegum. Butter made from peas. Instant noodles made by pouring cold liquids into hot soups. Even creating architecturally scaled models out of sugar, with a 3-D printer! Vegetables can be reduced down to little transparent spheres that are an explosion of concentrated flavour with an unexpected texture.

Several chefs around the world are masters of molecular gastronomy: Heston Blumenthal (the Fat Duck), Wylie Dufresne (wd-50 and Alder), and Ferran Adria (the master behind one of the world’s top restaurant El Bulli).

So, is Molecular Gastronomy still cooking?

In the words of Heston Blumenthal, award winning chef and Molecular Gastronomer, ‘Once there was just the knife if you wanted to chop things. Then along came the food-processor. But that was still cooking. Now I use other tools – centrifuges, desiccators – which you might not associate with the kitchen. But that’s cooking too.’

If you get a chance to try it out, approach your meal with an open mind and let your taste buds free on a culinary adventure. Feed your imagination!

Photos are all creations by renowned Molecular Gastronomy chefs.