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Inside the Alinea Food Lab

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#31 chefg

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Posted 21 October 2004 - 03:09 PM

ChefG:
I have a question regarding the seafood sponge...
I came across a kilo of alginate and have only experimented minimally with it. I am amazed by the potential of this product. My problem is: there aren't too many resources regarding the use of alginate in cooking that I have been able to find. I love your use of it to create this ethereal, whipped mound of flavor...but I am curious: what ratio do you use it in? From experience I have found that a little goes a long way, but I thought it might be worth the time to ask the mad scientist himself. So far I have only used it to keep gelato from crystallizing and thicken lightly reduced sauces...but even then it was pretty much a guessing game as far as amounts. Can you lend any advice?
Thanks
B

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Actually that is a typo on Nick's part. We used gelatin to make the shellfish sponge. We use the alginates as thickening agents and as a method for encapsulation.

This seems slightly off topic but I feel your segue is the perfect opportunity to comment on something that has bothered me for some time now.

Mad scientist is not an image that I would proudly carry, and I think there is a real problem with the misconception and labeling of chefs that are executing forward thinking cuisine as being such. Science is important in cooking, and some might be able to argue that the techniques that are becoming widely known as of late seem very scientific on the surface. But I can’t say how different any of them are compared to the leavening qualities of baking powder.

We are somewhat to blame for this public perception. Simply calling our test kitchen a lab certainly doesn’t help matters, nor does the use of freeze dryers, syringes and memberships to IFT. The important thing is to understand is these things are tools and knowledge…… NOT the origin. The syringe is merely a tool, the understanding of the molecular structure of gellan gum is knowledge.

For some reason we all seem to enjoy the vision of a chef in the kitchen filled with test tubes and beakers mixing ingredients together in random fashion and impatiently awaiting the results. It happens quite the opposite. Each of these concepts are developed based on their intent. If one of us brings an idea to the table that requires the development of a new technique, the processes and ingredients must be sought out and worked on. Each step is guided by the cooks’ instinct far more than his knowledge of food on a molecular level. Food originating from science lacks a tangible comfort, it lacks sensuality, it lacks soul.

My commentary is not meant to be defensive. However, as this style of cooking becomes more popular I think the people involved in it need to take control of its image so the public perception is not false. At the core of any great meal is a great cook, regardless of the style of cuisine, not a great scientist. I want my food to be enjoyed just as Chef Keller,Trotter, and Adria want theirs to be, on every level.

Edited by chefg, 21 October 2004 - 04:16 PM.

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#32 Bicycle Lee

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Posted 21 October 2004 - 04:07 PM

I apologize, Chef... I certainly meant no disrespect towards your cuisine or the techniques and struggle and strain that go into its creation. If anything, I was attempting to show great respect for you and those chefs out there who do break down preconceived notions of preparations of food. Too often I hear disdain for what is referred to as avante garde cuisine. People who hear, see, think, and even taste dogmatically commenting on the lack of culinary value. Whimsy is as important to cooking and eating as I believe science is. Like you say, you can set a tone for an entire tasting just by appealing to an emotion, memory or philosophy of the diner with the first bite.
So again, I apologize...you are certainly not "mad"...
"Make me some mignardises, &*%$@!" -Mateo

#33 chefg

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Posted 21 October 2004 - 04:18 PM

Too often I hear disdain for what is referred to as avante garde cuisine. People who hear, see, think, and even taste dogmatically commenting on the lack of culinary value.

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This is exactly what I am talking about.

No disrespect taken.
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#34 Bicycle Lee

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Posted 23 October 2004 - 10:55 AM

okay, so all that aside, in making the sponge, you obviously use less gelatin than you would to make a firm gel, right? In the pictures in does appear to be very resilient (seeing the pool of green liquid suspended in the sponge suggests this), but I am curious as to what kind of proportions you recommend using for these results.
Also, with the alginate...do you use a digital scale to get the amounts needed for the encapsulation? I also have 100 g of calcium chloride, but I have yet to purchase a scale that measures in grams, so I am leary of experimenting quite yet. I know that you are supposed to make a 2% solution of the liquid being encapsulated and the alginate and a 1% solution of the calcium chloride...so in the kitchen do you measure these amounts out with a digital scale?
I am sure that this is not the exactly appropriate place to post these q's, but I figured they would be seen quicker. Thanks, chef...
with the utmost respect.
B.Lee
"Make me some mignardises, &*%$@!" -Mateo

#35 chefg

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Posted 26 October 2004 - 03:07 PM

okay, so all that aside, in making the sponge, you obviously use less gelatin than you would to make a firm gel, right? In the pictures in does appear to be very resilient (seeing the pool of green liquid suspended in the sponge suggests this), but I am curious as to what kind of proportions you recommend using for these results.
Also, with the alginate...do you use a digital scale to get the amounts needed for the encapsulation? I also have 100 g of calcium chloride, but I have yet to purchase a scale that measures in grams, so I am leary of experimenting quite yet. I know that you are supposed to make a 2% solution of the liquid being encapsulated and the alginate and a 1% solution of the calcium chloride...so in the kitchen do you measure these amounts out with a digital scale?
I am sure that this is not the exactly appropriate place to post these q's, but I figured they would be seen quicker. Thanks, chef...
with the utmost respect.
B.Lee

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The sponge is the result of a ratio containing 1 sheet of gelatin to 75 ML of shellfish liquid.

Yes, very acturate digital scales are required for the measuring of most ingredients in the kitchen. All of our recipes are in metric and all of them are documented to the gram, some to the half gram if necessary. Your percentages seemed to be reversed. We basically use a 1% solution of alginate and a 2% calcium solution, but that can vary depending on what base liquid you are dealing with.
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#36 MJN

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Posted 26 October 2004 - 06:34 PM

ChefG

In the food lab, it looks like you guys are cooking sous vide in a pot over the range, albeit with a thermometer. Many of the folks on the forum swear that you need to have a lab water bath or super special equipment to cook via this technique? Is that true or can you use a regular range as long as you are careful to keep the temp within a couple of degrees?

Thanks again for sharing your vision with the group
"That the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred." Goethe

#37 chefg

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Posted 26 October 2004 - 08:54 PM

ChefG

In the food lab, it looks like you guys are cooking sous vide in a pot over the range, albeit with a thermometer.  Many of the folks on the forum swear that you need to have a lab water bath or super special equipment to cook via this technique?  Is that true or can you use a regular range as long as you are careful to keep the temp within a couple of degrees?

Thanks again for sharing your vision with the group

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No special equipment required. However, I have neither used nor seen a special “lab water bath” as you stated, it may provide the ultimate control in regards to temperature. We have been highly successful with a conventional range and an electronic thermometer. We even used a food saver at Trio until we could afford a commercial machine to vacuum the bags. We feel that induction heat sources are the most accurate and economical type for the sous vide cooking we do. They provide very consistent, low maintenance temperature control.

Depending on what you are cooking, and the desired effect, determines the temperature range you must keep the ingredients in. For proteins we are within 2 degrees of the determined temperature. It is amazing the difference between 136-138-140 degree lamb when cooking in this manner. The fact that the entire piece of protein is the target temperature leaves little room for error. In other words if you are sautéing and finishing a piece of meat in the oven and you mis-time it a few minutes early the middle will be rare…but graduating out from the center you will find medium-rare, medium, medium well and well. So the rare in the middle becomes less obvious. If you mis-temp during sous-vide by a few degrees you will be left with the entire piece either chewy rare or protein coagulated medium-well.
--
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#38 milla

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Posted 26 October 2004 - 10:02 PM

ChefG

In the food lab, it looks like you guys are cooking sous vide in a pot over the range, albeit with a thermometer.  Many of the folks on the forum swear that you need to have a lab water bath or super special equipment to cook via this technique?  Is that true or can you use a regular range as long as you are careful to keep the temp within a couple of degrees?

Thanks again for sharing your vision with the group

View Post


No special equipment required. However, I have neither used nor seen a special “lab water bath” as you stated, it may provide the ultimate control in regards to temperature. We have been highly successful with a conventional range and an electronic thermometer. We even used a food saver at Trio until we could afford a commercial machine to vacuum the bags. We feel that induction heat sources are the most accurate and economical type for the sous vide cooking we do. They provide very consistent, low maintenance temperature control.

Depending on what you are cooking, and the desired effect, determines the temperature range you must keep the ingredients in. For proteins we are within 2 degrees of the determined temperature. It is amazing the difference between 136-138-140 degree lamb when cooking in this manner. The fact that the entire piece of protein is the target temperature leaves little room for error. In other words if you are sautéing and finishing a piece of meat in the oven and you mis-time it a few minutes early the middle will be rare…but graduating out from the center you will find medium-rare, medium, medium well and well. So the rare in the middle becomes less obvious. If you mis-temp during sous-vide by a few degrees you will be left with the entire piece either chewy rare or protein coagulated medium-well.

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Chef,

there was this cool sous-vide thread earlier on eGullet that had a link to an ebay page with medical waterbaths available at a great price.
the thread is here:
http://forums.egulle...st=60&p=741029

i have had great success with the medical baths over the past year (they are very reliable overnight for 24+hour slow cooking) with gentle heat sources and narrow temp ranges that the med industry requires. I think they are worth a look/see.
We also have used the on-range technique you described above the with smaller packages/digital thermometer to much satisfaction also.
hope that is informative in some way and good luck in January.

#39 FoodMan

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Posted 27 October 2004 - 02:45 PM

Chef(s) -
A question was posted earlier and I don't think it was answered, but I am also very curious to know. Are you still going to serve the Caramel orb creme brulee even though, Jose andres is doing something similar? It just looks amazing and it had a lot of time invested in it for it to go to waste.

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#40 nick.kokonas

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Posted 27 October 2004 - 07:00 PM

Chef(s) -
A question was posted earlier and I don't think it was answered, but I am also very curious to know. Are you still going to serve the Caramel orb creme brulee even though, Jose andres is doing something similar? It just looks amazing and it had a lot of time invested in it for it to go to waste.

Elie

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This brings up an interesting point I think, and one that has been debated ad infinitum elsewhere: what is the value of originality and can you be truly original.

I read about the Jose Andres Caramel Light Bulb and brought it to Chef Achatz attention. The irony to us is that we had no knowledge of its existence and yet Chef Achatz independently conceived of a similar dish and the team was working to make it happen. No doubt, had Chef Achatz not acknowledged the existence of the "other" orb, he would have been accused of being derivitive or worse. So one is made sensitive by the nature of this medium - - the internet and its instant information -- and the nature of the critic and of creativity itself. Also, it should be noted, we still have not seen this other orb, and do not know if it is indeed similar to Chef Achatz' Orb of Dried Creme Brulee. Perhaps someone else could inform us on this matter.

I have even seen it happen with my ideas... as most likely you have as well. I have had a few notions of how to technically realize some of Chef's ideas only to find out that someone has done that already. At the end of the day, we may feel like we are a beaten to the punch... but then again, it is easy to point out, how many caramel orbs have you seen?

I may not be expressing my point very well here, but it is this: two artists within the same craft often arrive at similar ideas at or near the same time. Neither should be diminished by this... if anything it is empowering. It certainly has precendents that I can think of in other mediums - -- most obviously visual arts.

So in my book, this is an excellent, well achieved amouse that should remain on the Alinea tasting menu.... but ultimately this is always for Chef Achatz to decide... and I do not know his decision on this...

#41 ronnie_suburban

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Posted 27 October 2004 - 07:06 PM

Also, it should be noted, we still have not seen this other orb, and do not know if it is indeed similar to Chef Achatz' Orb of Dried Creme Brulee. Perhaps someone else could inform us on this matter.

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Nick,

Check out this thread, page 3 (scroll down about half way).

José Andrés' Minibar, run, don't walk, to Café Atlantico

=R=
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#42 nick.kokonas

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Posted 27 October 2004 - 07:19 PM

Thanks Ron... I figured someone would find a picture for us.. just not that fast (and I did Google it!)...

Well, Chef's is quite different than that -- they are similar in that they are both (I assume) "pulled" sugar -- or in our case moulded sugar. Is there anything inside the Andres Bulb...?

#43 mikeczyz

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Posted 27 October 2004 - 10:03 PM

It would appear Jose's lightbulb has existed for quite some time now....
Mike

Edited by mikeczyz, 27 October 2004 - 10:05 PM.


#44 bcnchef

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Posted 28 October 2004 - 02:26 AM

Well, Chef's is quite different than that -- they are similar in that they are both (I assume) "pulled" sugar -- or in our case moulded sugar.  Is there anything inside the Andres Bulb...?

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José Andres uses hot isomalt to make the bulb.

They place a blinking (usually blue) LED inside.

J.

#45 ducphat30

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Posted 29 October 2004 - 11:11 PM

The sponge is the result of a ratio containing 1 sheet of gelatin to 75 ML of shellfish liquid.


Chef,

I remember a "dessert" course in the TDF that was a rutabega sponge, was this the same ratio that you used for that?

And have you used other "gelling" agents to be able to do the sponge warm?

Thanks in advance for the info.
Really enjoying the thread.
Patrick Sheerin

#46 Rebcameron

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Posted 30 October 2004 - 02:15 PM

Hi Chef Achatz,

I really enjoy reading the Alinea Food Lab posts. I think it is very interesting that you seem to be blending both culinary and food science knowledge. After reading about the Caramel Bubble and the PB&J, where do you draw the line in your menu development? Are there any ideas that are too absurd? I'm also wondering what it is you are striving for with the Alinea menu...what standards must these new items meet? What is it that makes you say "okay" to one menu item and "no" to another?

Thank you for your time,
Rebcameron

#47 C_Ruark

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Posted 01 November 2004 - 10:45 PM

Chef Achatz,
This is truely amazing stuff! I have to tell you that reading about your platings is a somewhat perplexing experience. I wish I had a 3D display (with zoom capability) on my computer! Flat images are coming up a bit short, IMHO, but please keep posting them. :cool:

- Would you please introduce your Sous Chefs in brief detail? Who are Mssrs. Peters and Duffy, and how did they come to be selected for duty in the lab? How far in advance are they made aware of your recipes?

Recently, on the serviceware thread, you show several images of the Nantucket Bay Scallop with roasted pear, oil and licorice being served on antennas.

- Forgive my ignorance, was this recipe developed in the lab? Is a close up of the Scallop serving available?

Thank you for your time.

Regards from DC,
- CSR
"There's something very Khmer Rouge about Alice Waters that has become unrealistic." - Bourdain; interviewed on dcist.com

#48 chefg

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Posted 02 November 2004 - 12:09 AM

Chef(s) -
A question was posted earlier and I don't think it was answered, but I am also very curious to know. Are you still going to serve the Caramel orb creme brulee even though, Jose andres is doing something similar? It just looks amazing and it had a lot of time invested in it for it to go to waste.

Elie

View Post


I have not decided what to do with the dried crème brulee. My first impulse was to abandon the dish. This undoubtedly stems from past accusations that my cuisine is imported directly from el Bulli. Of course the dish is like nothing I have ever seen produced by Adria, and after some research I discovered it is also very different than Jose’s. After realizing the originality of the dish was still intact, I was still reluctant to pursue the dish to completion. This was frustrating and it ultimately lead to more thought on the subject of “being first” and how important that was.

The priority to bring ideas to the table before the peers will undoubtably produce a cuisine that is very shallow. I prefer to let the process happen organically, this way the dishes that come out of contemporary kitchens will have certain maturity. If the point is merely to be first, the result will be a style of cuisine that is haphazardly conceived, executed and short lived. Each dish and technique destined to the garbage can at the expense of the next and so on. This will leave no grounding elements, no identifiers, and eventually the characteristics that make this style of cuisine so exciting will kill it off.

Creativity, originality and evolution are still the driving forces behind what we do.
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#49 nick.kokonas

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Posted 02 November 2004 - 06:50 AM

Recently, on the serviceware thread, you show several images of the Nantucket Bay Scallop with roasted pear, oil and licorice being served on antennas.

-  Forgive my ignorance, was this recipe developed in the lab? Is a close up of the Scallop serving available?

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Here is the picture you requested:

Posted Image


Chef Achatz developed this dish for this benefit. It was conceived and prepared by Chef G and the Alinea team in the "lab".

#50 reuvens

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Posted 02 November 2004 - 12:20 PM

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. This was frustrating and it ultimately lead to more thought on the subject of “being first” and how important that was.

Creativity, originality and evolution are still the driving forces behind what we do.

View Post



i was told by my former headchef who worked for the creative team at el bulli in this last season that ferran adria doesn´t read any cookbooks or has a favourite chef or anything else....
i like this attitude a lot because it shows that mr.adria is like an artist. inspired by almost everything he is getting in contact with visual, emotional etc....
challenged every year to be the "first" mr.adria is using the power of pr and marketing to announce his new creations before anybody else is coming up with something similar.
i think this new form of avantgarde cooking led to a head to head race. everybody wants to be first. new machines and techniques are essential and you don´t have to be a trained chef anymore which is, in my opinion, a little bit sad. where is the end of this avantgarde "cooking"? eating gels, airs or even just aromas? having the ultimate experience? time will show us....

anyway i like your version of "creme brulee" and i think you should share your vision with your audience. marco pierre white once said "at the end of the day it´s just food"

you are so right marco!

vue

#51 Mark Sommelier

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Posted 02 November 2004 - 11:23 PM

What wines are paired with these various dishes?

Edited by Mark Sommelier, 03 November 2004 - 07:03 AM.

Mark

#52 C_Ruark

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Posted 03 November 2004 - 12:16 PM

Chef Achatz developed this dish for this benefit.  It was conceived and prepared by Chef G and the Alinea team in the "lab".


Mr. Kokonas - Thank you for posting the image. This is quite elegant. Did you sample? If so, please describe your experience...

Chef - Regarding the crème b... rather than abandoning the idea, perhaps this format is suitable for presenting other flavors and textures. What are your thoughts?


Thanks for your time.

- CSR

(edited to correct a misspelling; Mr. Kokonas, my apologizes, Sir. -CSR).

Edited by C_Ruark, 03 November 2004 - 07:51 PM.

"There's something very Khmer Rouge about Alice Waters that has become unrealistic." - Bourdain; interviewed on dcist.com

#53 nick.kokonas

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Posted 03 November 2004 - 04:07 PM

Mr.  Kokonas - Thank you for posting the image.  This is quite elegant. Did you sample? If so,  please describe your experience...


- CSR

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The wonderful thing about presenting food on the antennas is that Chef G is able to craft exactly how the diner will receive the bite.

So the surprise to me and many of the guests that I watched enjoy this dish was this sweet pear component coupled with the fennel-licorice taste up front -- it was the first, prominent taste. Then as the sweetness diminished you were left with a finish of scallop/seafood flavor. It was a well layered taste experience.

I enjoyed more than one... as did many of the guests.

Edited by nick.kokonas, 04 November 2004 - 01:15 PM.


#54 sizzleteeth

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Posted 03 November 2004 - 04:15 PM

My first impulse was to abandon the dish. This undoubtedly stems from past accusations that my cuisine is imported directly from el Bulli.


It seems to me that being first or not being first is not really the issue here.

The issue is being known.

Being the "first known" and being the "first" are not the same thing.

How many things have we created that we have been the first to do?

No one knows the answer to that question.

When you are in a position in which the products of your labor are available to and scrutinized by the public, the perception generated by introducing something before another that exists inside the same bubble of perception - will be that of being “first”.

This is actually an illusion.

No doubt that there are elements of your cuisine that are inseparable from that of Adria and Keller as well as others but, like all of us, you are the product of the sum of your experiences and in that way we are all derivative in some ways both directly and indirectly.

This does not make the things that we do any less relevant or individual – else we would have to give up using the same techniques and/or ingredients used by others – which is simply impossible.

Sincere effort that produces worthy results in and of itself is original.

Many do not follow this path.

As the old clichés go:

“Stealing from one person is called Plagiarism, stealing from many is called Research.”
and “The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.”

Only products of deliberate infringement are reprehensible.

Edited by sizzleteeth, 03 November 2004 - 04:29 PM.



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#55 tan319

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Posted 03 November 2004 - 08:44 PM

[quote name='vue_de_cuisine' date='Nov 2 2004, 01:20 PM']

View Post

[quote]
. This was frustrating and it ultimately lead to more thought on the subject of “being first” and how important that was.

Creativity, originality and evolution are still the driving forces behind what we do.

View Post

[/quote]


i was told by my former headchef who worked for the creative team at el bulli in this last season that ferran adria doesn´t read any cookbooks or has a favourite chef or anything else....

This seems a bit weird.
In the El Bulli 98/02 book, Adria not only namechecks quite a few chefs whose food him and his team are inspired by, but tells what food is basically a direct cop from, eg: Michel Bras: # 586:berry fruit cheese with junket( + the savory version of this dish.)


" first. new machines and techniques are essential and you don´t have to be a trained chef anymore which is, in my opinion, a little bit sad. where is the end of this avantgarde "cooking"? eating gels, airs or even just aromas? having the ultimate experience? time will show us...."

Not sure about the trained chef part of this but, Achatz is not only a CIA grad, but certainly put in his time at a few places.
A lot of chefs are learning on the run/
2317/5000

#56 alexw

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Posted 04 November 2004 - 10:43 AM

For nearly the whole of the second page now, the subject is around origionality and more to the point the fear of plagarism.

what is important about any chefs work is the journey taken, and its creative process within ourselves. If we worry too much about being first and binning any ideas that we see, or are told, are similar then full evolution of any dish isn't achieved and then the time wasted and our enthusiasm dampened.

I a couple of years ago heard of Ferrans Air of carrot and thought as many, Wow and went about trying to replicate it using every emulsifying chemical or gelatins I could lay my hands on. The closest I came to was a Carrot angel delight and, enthusiasm dampened, binned the idea. Imagine how sick I was when 10 months later I am lucky enough to see him demonstrate at the royal horseguards hotel in London, how bloody simple it actually is.

My enthusiasm returned I knocked up a special a couple of weeks later using my old Carrot angel delight as a solid sauce.

enough wittering, I wish to congratulate all the chefs involved in this project, all the work I've looked at appears phenomenal, and wish you every success with the developments both purely original and close replications. after all the saying is there is nothing new under the Sun, if you think of it all the new "clever" products we use in cookery are extracts (agar, alginates) or byproducts (gellan gum)

take care and thanks again for the fantastic insights into your creative, not at all mad, scientific culinary brains.

One quick question for anyone please, I'm having difficulty obtaining sensible quantities of Sodium Alginate and Calcium chloride, could someone point me in the right direction.

Alex.
after all these years in a kitchen, I would have thought it would become 'just a job'

but not so, spending my time playing not working

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#57 reuvens

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Posted 04 November 2004 - 10:57 AM

i just want to make clear that chefg is a great chef, even if i never tasted one of his dishes. the pictures alone are pleasing my imagination and tastebuds...

being a famous chef is also a lot of pr, interviews and a lot more blablabla...as words are taken like a promise nowadays. if mr. adria mentioned other chefs in his book it doesn´t mean that he changed his attitude at all. he is traveling a lot and his kind of "tortilla" made of milkskin is actually a "yuba" dish from japan. chefg isn´t mr. adria´s caliber yet, because he can do what he wants he always will be compared to ther chefs like adria. maybe he will manage to stand by his own and i wish him all the best. it´s not being the most "unique" chef it´s about the own challenge with yourself...that what cooking is about for me.

anyway this topic is about the foodlab and i just have to say: "keep up the great work chefg". and thank you very much again for sharing your vision.

maybe somebody should start a topic about the pro and contras of molecularkitchen/avantgarde cuisine or whatever you want to call it. it would be a very interesting topic for sure...

vue

#58 mike_r

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Posted 04 November 2004 - 11:02 AM

hey alex try here for alginate and this one for calcium chloride.

on another note, we've seen stuff like foams and gels become so commonplace these days that they are present on an immensely wide range of menus. we have foams on the menu where i work, which is NOT a four-star, contemporary restaurant. but it's become just another tool of the trade, like forcemeat, or any of the various standard cuts. my point is, how many "new" techniques and methods are there? please don't misunderstand, i love this sort of thing and wait with bated breath what the future holds, but i feel that eventually stuff like encapsulation using alginate, and sponges, and yes even caramel bubbles will be as commonplace as foams or microwaves or even sauteeing.

just a thought...

#59 ducphat30

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Posted 04 November 2004 - 11:18 AM

Not to switch subjects, but there is a nice spread in metromix today, more so about the caramel orb, which looks like an incredible vehicle for a number of things, and an interview with chefg.

For anyone who's interested
Patrick Sheerin

#60 sizzleteeth

sizzleteeth
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Posted 04 November 2004 - 11:38 AM

I would go as far as to make the argument that such things are already common place, only that the context is different.

Giant food companies have been doing this kind of thing for years and years yet no one marvels over Cool Whip which other than a few derivatives is almost entirely dairy free, no one marvels over pizza flavored Doritos or meat substitutes like Quorn or other items made from gluten. Walk through your grocery store and look at the forms and ingredients lists of the items sitting on the shelves. Pick up a trade magazine and explore all the companies who make flavorings and engineer food in food labs around the world.

Because these methods are being applied with better ingredients in a different context (i.e. fine dining vs. junk food) does not make them new by any stretch.

Take Sous Vide for instance, this method has been around since before I was born in the early 70’s, consumer vacuum sealers have been available for almost as long – search Ebay and see how many vintage vacuum food sealing products you find.

Also, nearly everyone has been exposed to this method in one form or another (enter boil in a bag rice or any number of commercial products that employ this method), yet because of the context many do not make the connection and the technique seems like something they have never seen before.

Just as “first known” is not the same as “first” – “new to me” is not the same as “new”.

It would be very difficult with the length of the history of cooking, the size of the world and it’s population cooking every day and the limited spectrum of techniques and types of ingredients, to come up with something that is not in part derived from something else either purposely or accidentally.

The context creates the perception and perception is reality – but perceived reality is not necessarily truth.


nathan gray

"At the gate, I said goodnight to the fortune teller... the carnival sign threw colored shadows on her face... but I could tell she was blushing." - B.McMahan






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