mercredi 18 septembre 2013

This morning, some questions : Hello Mr. Hervé This. It's quite an honor to speak to you. I have researched about your many tremendously fascinating experiments with food. I'm actually writing a career review on the job of a molecular gastronomist. You seem to be the chemist that started it all and spread the creative use of science to make innovative, modern dishes unheard of until recently. I would love for you to spend a little time just to answer a few questions regarding your career and ideas about gastronomy itself. But if you are too busy, I still really appreciate the opportunity to speak to you and your huge contribution to the merge of science and food. 1. Which would you consider yourself, a chef that utilizes molecular gastronomy in their cooking or a chemist that devises new techniques and ideas in the science of food? 2. What are some responsibilities you hold in your career? Things like the regulation of safety of foods, taste, texture, etc,? 3. How many years of experience have you had in this field? And did you receive any formal education for this career? 4. Do you currently only work in AgroParisTech, or hold other positions at restaurants and contribute to their success? This is a new approach to food that is here to stay! There are so many possibilities in food, and I believe you, Sir, have opened another doorway in the culinary world that just comes to show there are no limits we can't break. Thank you so much for your time! I look forward to hearing some great ideas and answers from an experienced individual like you! And here are the answers : Thanks for your email. I fear anyway that you confuse science (molecular gastronomy) and cooking (technique + art). Making food is no "quantitative science". Exploring nature is not producing dishes. No one is over the other, but they are different. In the middle, you have technology, which means using the results of science for improving techniques, and make innovative dishes. And molecular gastronomy is not merging science and food, but more precisely studying the phenomena occuring during cooking... in order to make scientific discoveries (how the world works). But it's true that, at the same time, in a different line of work, I (and some others) wanted to improve technique, to modernize... and this was "molecular cooking" (very different from molecular gastronomy). In order to see clearly the difference, please have a look to my book "Molecular gatronomy", at Columbia University Press. And please do know that a new idea is being now proposed under the name of Note by Note Cooking (see files, and look for the next book at Columbia University Press, being produced those days). Coming to your questions, you will understand clearly why the answer is sometimes difficult to give : 1. Which would you consider yourself, a chef that utilizes molecular gastronomy in their cooking or a chemist that devises new techniques and ideas in the science of food? A : I am not a chef, because I don't cook (I mean, for my job) ! My daily work, and my big passion in life, the job for which I am paid, is physical chemistry, which means in practice solving equations, as you can see in the attached paper. By the way, the expression "the science of food", is not exact, as it is molecular gastronomy, rather. By the way, also, it is because we produce scientific results that these results can be used by technologists, engineers, but also technicians, artists.. and teachers. 2. What are some responsibilities you hold in your career? Things like the regulation of safety of foods, taste, texture, etc,? In my job, I have : - to produce scientific results And this should be all. But being as I am, I feel a "political" responsability of : - teaching - distribute knowledge very broadly - imagine application (molecular cooking, note by note cooking, more detailed ideas) - consider regulation, safety, art - being the president of the Food Section of the Academy of agriculture of France, I have to envision the future of food (remember that there will be 10 billions people in 2050, with energy crisis and water crisis) 3. How many years of experience have you had in this field? And did you receive any formal education for this career? I began with a lab at home when I was 6 years old, and I did scientific activities for all my life (this mean now more than 50 years). All seconds are devoted to science : remember that this is my PASSION. Formal eduction ? Sure ! After my high school (doing science at the same time in the Science Museum of Paris, during week ends), I entered ESPCI ParisTech, which is the best place in France for physical chemistry. And in 1980, I began experimenting culinary precisions (from this physical chemistry point of view). I never stopped, and I shall probably do this until I die (why should I stop, otherwise?) 4. Do you currently only work in AgroParisTech A. As shown on my CV, I have may jobs at the same time. I am physical chemist paid by INRA. My lab is at AgroParisTech, where I am also a teacher, and participating to the organisation of the "Food Innovation and Product Desigh" Master programme ( Also, as I told you, I have to manage the section food at the Academy of agrilcuture. But also I am contributing to the educational programme of the Hautes Etudes du Goût, a programme like a summer programme of Harvard. And I am a scientific advisor of scientific magazines, etc. I should be useful, isn't it ? 5. Do I have position in restaurants ? I am organizing free monthly seminars, so that chefs can improve. But I am also organizing free public courses (2 days per year) for a large audience. Etc. And Pierre Gagnaire is my friend, and we do things together. Plus other particular tasks. Live is wonderful, when you trie to do useful actions ! Celebrate Knowledge (produced, distributed and used).

lundi 16 septembre 2013

Some questions, some answers

Dear Friends, This morning, I got a message from an American student (culinary art curriculum) : 1. What world events have contributed to the discoveries you've made in the molecular gastronomy field? 2. What technological advancements have been made throughout your time in this field that have been prominent contributors to the discovery of new ways of cooking? 3. Have changes in culture affected the way molecular gastronomy is preformed? 4. What interested you in the field of molecular gastronomy? Here are the answers : 1. Indeed, this is perhaps my English is poor, but I don't know why "world events" could have contributed to my scientific research. I insist: as my young friend is dealing with molecular gastronomy, I assume that he knows the big difference between molecular gastronomy (= quantitative science, looking for the mechanisms of phenomena, with absolutely no intent to do applications, only focusing on the goal of making discoveries) and molecular cooking (definition given in the Encyclopedia Britannica : cooking with modern tools). In this assumption, my correspondant is right to use the word "discoveries" (for technique or technology, as in molecular cooking, we should speak of "invention", not "discovery"). This being said, scientific research does not care about "world events" ! My discoveries (the formalism for disperse systems, my theory of bioactivity, new kind of gels, etc.) were based on my work, not on outside moves... but then, perhaps my English is poor, so that I don't understand the question. 2. Technological advancements ? Look to my book "Cours de gastronomie moléculaire N°1", and there are about 150 inventions, with a method for making inventions. In some cases, the "inventions" are formalisms, that you can use to make an infinite number of inventions. For example, the DSF( formalism for disperse systems) allows you to produce automatically (you can use a computer) formulas, that you can make really. As the number of possible formulas is infinite, the number of inventions of new food consistencies is also infinite ! But perhaps the main "invention" was molecular cooking, and more recently, the very exciting "note by note cooking" idea (see the book being published soon at Columbia University Press). More detailed ideas published every month on Pierre Gagnaire internet site ! 3. I am not sure to answer the question. 4. Why I am so interested in Molecular Gastronomy ? My goal in life is to contribute to Knowledge, as the great scientists of the past did. My heros are Faraday, Lavoisier, Newton, Galileo Galilei, Dirac, Würtz, but also Diderot and the Philosophers of the Enlightment Century. And Molecular Gastronomy is one particular branch of science. My sole goal in life is to be able to make important discoveries in science (and I am upset when I am doing technology, inventions, because this should not be part of my work, and it takes time to it : in particular, I am spending too much time on Note by Note Cooking... but this is the food of my children, probably).

mercredi 11 septembre 2013

The Parisian Seminars on Molecular Gastronomy

Dear friends
Next Monday (the 16th of September 2013), we shall have the first seminar of molecular gastronomy of the academic year, as this next Monday is the third Monday of the month. 
We shall explore the interest of sacrification of some whipped egg white during chocolate mousse preparation (but you remember that this is not needed when you make chocolate chantilly!). 
The meeting will be at 4.00 PM, a the 4th floor of the Ecole de cuisine française of the  Centre Jean Ferrandi from the Chambre de commerce de Paris, 28 bis rue de l'abbé Grégoire, Paris 75006.
Don't hesitate to come if you want+can. It's open and free!

mercredi 4 septembre 2013

From our colleagues and friends in NYC

Hello all,
We hope that you had a great summer! Hard to believe it went by so rapidly!

The ECC is back from summer break with its first meeting of the season, featuring ECC co-founder Will Goldfarb visiting us from Bali. Our September meeting will take place on Thursday, September 12, from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Chemistry Department at NYU, room 1003 (31 Washington Place, between Washington Square Park and Greene Street). You will need a photo ID to enter the building.    
Literary inspirations form the basis of the latest series of desserts to come out of the Mejekawi Lab at KUDETA in Bali. Chef Will Goldfarb, ECC co-founder, will be in town for one night only, or thereabouts, telling tales of storytelling, and referencing the series inspired by the birth of the nation he now calls home: Indonesia. 
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.