vendredi 19 août 2016

Cuba, summer 2016

Maria Ester and her colleagues organize the next workshop Molecular Gastronomy, on 13 September, in the Cohiba Hotel.

Have a nice summer

mardi 28 juin 2016

Low temperature cooking of vegetables

Being asked about  "low temperature cooking of vegetable", here is an analysis :

What happens when vegetables are cooked at low temperature?

Indeed for the sake of the discussion, it's good to consider that plant tissues are made of cells, which are soft object, full of water and limited with a fragile membrane. They are cemented with the cell wall, i.e. pectins and celluloses: one can regard cellulose molecules as strong, chemically inert pillars, and pectins as ropes that are entangled around the pillars, so that they keep the cells together.

When the plant tissues are boiled, a chemical process called beta elimination of pectins occur: the pectins "ropes" are cut, piece after piece, so that the pillars can separate, and the cells also. This  is why the plant tissue becomes soft.
# Of course, some others phenomena occur, such as starch gelatinization, above about 80 Celsius degrees.
This can occur in water or outside water, but of course outside water some evaporation occurs as well, which means the formation of a crust. And when the temperature + time is enough, various chemical processes can turn the plant tissue brown, such as hexoses degradation, Maillard reactions (but few), oxidation, pyrolysis, caramelization (remember that plant tissues are full of the three sugars glucose, fructose, sucrose), etc.

Another important piece of information is needed when low temperature cooking is considered: at low temperature, some particular enzymes called pectin methyl esterase are activated, so that the provoke the leaking of calcium from cells... and this makes the plant tissues harder because the calcium ions link to pectins and prevent further pectin disruption. This can be seen by a wonderfully simple experiment of heating first carrot slices in water at 50 °C : the carrots don't change apparently. Then when you  boil the carrots, they don't soften as they would do during boiling.
And this effect occurs frequently during low temperature cooking, with different temperature threshold depending on the particular tissues that you consider. Cooking in "hard" water, with a lot of calcium ions, can also have this effect: in certain waters, lentils don't soften, even after hours of boiling.

If you can find on line the PhD document by my former student Anne Cazor, some more information is given. But the most important is given here.

Finally, I would say that I don't really see the interest of low temperature cooking of vegetables... because the goal of low temperature cooking was limiting the protein coagulation of meats, avoiding them being hard, and the slow dissolution of collagenic tissue, so that hard meat can be transformed into tender meat. For plant tissue, the issue is often to make them soft when they are hard, and there is no harmful effect of high temperature, only the process is accelerated.
Only for particular processes low temperature is helpful, for example when you  want to make non soft gherkins, for pickles, for example. Or when too  soft plant tissues have to keep some hardness (some varieties of potatoes, for example), etc.

samedi 11 juin 2016

The results of the 4th International Contest for Note by Note Cooking


International Contest

 for Note by Note Cooking

Paris, June 10, 2016

Topic: cellulose, cellulose derivatives and compounds with trigeminal effects.

The 10th of June 2016, at AgroParisTech, candidates from more than 20 countries showed their works to a jury including :
● Thierry Mechinaud, Restaurant Pierre Gagnaire, Paris, France
● Patrick Terrien, ex chef of the chefs of the Cordon bleu School
● Sandrine Kault, Louis François Company
● Yolanda Rigault, organizer of the contest
● Hervé This, AgroParisTech-Inra International Centre for Molecular Gastronomy

Prizes were given in three categories

Category Chefs :

First Prize:
Guillaume Siegler, chef of the Cordon Bleu Tokyo, Japon

Second Prize
Emmanuel Roux-Var, Manager, chef, teacher for sous vide ccooking, Ecole Pralus, France.

Category Amateurs :

First Prize
Eric Olivier Lermusiaux, France

Category Students:

First Prize ex aequo :
Michael Pontif, Chimie ParisTech, France
Sophie Dalton, Dublin Institute of Technology, Dublin, Ireland

Second Prize
Etienne Laborie, Chimie ParisTech, France

Third Prize :
Rohit, Student of the Master Erasmus Mundus Food Innovation and Product Design, India
Alice Payrault, ISIPCA, France

The recipes (with picctures) will be show day after day on the internet site

Thanks to our partners
Mane SA Louis François

jeudi 3 mars 2016

Other Q&A

This morning, some questions. Here are my answers, with comments :

In an answer to a question on your website about DSFs, you mention that dimension "does not mean size, but the number of parameters that you need to describe a system." You give mayonnaise as an example: D0(O)/D3(W). Why does the oil occupy 0 dimensions as opposed to the liquid water phase that occupies 3? What are the parameters pertaining to a given phase?

Here, I have to explain, in order to avoid my friends going first on other pages, looking for explanations on DSF.
DSF stands for "disperse systems formalism", i.e. a kind of algebra that  can be used in order to describe the physical organization of colloids, that is systems such as foams, gels, emulsions, suspensions...
In this formalism, one describes objects by their "physical dimension", and the nature of the "phases" (gaz, liquid, solid...), including the relationship between the constituants.
The  dimension is indeed the traditional mathematical object. A dot has dimension zero, a line  dimension one, a surface dimension two, a volume a dimension 3, and there  can be non integer dimensions, such as for fractals.
In a mayonnaise : the sauce itself is certainly 3 dimensional. The continuous phase is water (W), which  means that the  sauce formula begins with D3(W°. Now, if you look at it, you see that there are oil droplets are dispersed in the water phase. But the oil droplets are "physically" of dimension 0, because they are more than one order of magnitude smaller than the reference size, i.e. the  radius of the  sauce. And these droplets D0(O) are randomly dispersed in the water  sauce, hence the formula.

Given a random dispersion system formula, how would you go about interpreting that into a physical manifestation (a dish)? How do you interpret each operation––specifically inclusion, superstition, and intermixing?

I don't understand the question. Can you explain what  you mean ?

As a study of the science regarding cuisine, what distinguishes the molecular gastronomy from the scientific field of food science?

This is very clear, and there are obviously historical reasons. If you look to any Food Science textbook, such as the Food Chemistry (Springer), you will never see "real food", such as coq of vin, poisson braisé, etc. The only topics being discussed are food ingredients, or food processes of the industry. See this explained in more details in my article of the Accounts of chemical research.

Did the Futurist Ideology regarding future food consumption (as Marinetti predicted in the Cucina Futurista) inspire your concept of Note-by-Note cooking in anyway? How did your work in the fields of food science and molecular gastronomy influence this idea?

No. I don't have time for this. The idea of note by note cooking is explained in my book on the topic.
By the way, in  some posts of my blogs you will see that  there could be more, such as injecting sensations into the brain, without eating physically. This is very exciting, but I shall not work on it.
And I don't understand clearly the second question here.

In many of your lecture demonstrations, you use flavor compounds in powder form. What are the processes of extracting flavor or odor molecules from ingredients––like basil, or olive oil for example? Are there any methods that can be used at home with basic supplies?

Compounds responsible for  taste or odor, or trigeminal can be solid or liquid (for gases, the amount of material is too small).
The process of extracting? It depends on the particular compounds. Some can be recovered by distillation, other by membrane filtration, etc.
At home ? Who would you mind extracting at home, as you don't do  it for sugar or salt ? Of course, you can if you have the equipment, but supercritical CO2 is expansive. Rotary evaporators are now in some kitchens.

Seeing that you have greatly impacted the development of molecular gastronomy/cuisine/Note-by-Note cooking, why don’t you consider yourself a chef?

Why  I don't consider myself a  chef ? Because a chef cooks professionnally. If I would open a restaurant, I am quite sure that I would do well, but I also know that I am a dwarf, artistically, compared to my friend Pierre Gagnaire. I am no artist, even if my technique is probably  better than the technique of all chefs (remember one invention per  month for more than 15 years, and I can make 40 liters of whipped egg white from one egg). I cook daily for my family since I am  6 BUT I am not interested in all this.
My life is physical chemistry, equations, science, enlarging the realm of knowledge, of scientific knowledge. For me, technique  and technology (even my own inventions) are nil ! My only proudness are some scientific results that I was able to get. My job, for which I am paid, is  physical chemistry... and now that I answered, I am coming back VERY FAST to my equations and calculations. 

mercredi 17 février 2016

Maria Esther Abreu, in Cuba, was honored for what she is doing with chefs : seminars on molecular gastronomy.

The next seminar on molecular gastronomy in New York

Experimental Cuisine Collective
Experimental Cuisine Collective
February 2016 meeting
Upcoming ECC Events
We are busy planning our 3 spring meetings! Consult our website for updated meeting dates and times.
Quick Links

Hello all,
The February meeting of the Experimental Cuisine Collective will take place Monday, February 29, from 4 to 6 p.m. in the indoor farm of the Institute of Culinary Education, Brookfield Place, 225 Liberty Street.  
Click here to download a PDF with subway, parking, and general directions. You will need a photo ID to access the building.

The meeting will center around ICE's indoor 540-square-foot farm, designed by Boswyck Farms, which has 3,000 plant sites and in which 22 crops are currently growing. David Goldstein, one of its designers from Boswyck, will discuss the farm's installation and other questions around indoor farming.  

Please RSVP at A link is also posted on our website. If you RSVP and can no longer make it, please let me know right away so that your seat can be released---thank you!  
All my best,


Anne E. McBride
Director, Experimental Cuisine Collective 

The Experimental Cuisine Collective is a working group that assembles scholars, scientists, chefs, writers, journalists, performance artists, and food enthusiasts. We launched in April 2007, as a result of the collaboration of Kent Kirshenbaum of the chemistry department and Amy Bentley of the nutrition, food studies, and public health department at New York University with Chef Will Goldfarb of WillPowder. Our overall aim is to develop a broad-based and rigorous academic approach that employs techniques and approaches from both the humanities and sciences to examine the properties, boundaries, and conventions of food.

Visit the ECC online at 

Experimental Cuisine Collective, New York University, 411 Lafayette Street, 5th Floor, New York, NY 10003
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