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#1 ludja

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Posted 13 December 2004 - 09:21 AM

Thank you for your time on our forum Chef Adria.

As a chemist, I was curious as to the extent that chemical principles vs pure experimentation have a hand in achieving, if not guiding, your creations.

If chemical principles are used in part, how have you (or others that work with you) learned them?

I would think that some chemical principles are learned in good cooking schools but wonder how much farther you and others go in this training and how you achieve the training.

Does El Bulli ever employ or work with chemistry consultants?


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#2 Ferran Adrià

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Posted 19 December 2004 - 05:30 PM

To be a chef, you have to have knowledge of products, classic techniques, contemporary techniques, history of cooking, gastronomic culture. If you want to have a restaurant, you have to know how to manage it. If you’re looking to get some exposure in the media, you have to know how to relate with them. And you have to have some knowledge about the scientific world. It doesn’t make too much sense that a chef starts studying chemistry from scratch, neither does it that he starts learning how to grow tomatoes. You look for the person who knows more about tomatoes, don’t you? It’s the same with chemistry, and it’s a major change.

You have to differentiate between two type of technical actions: the knowledge about what already exists and the knowledge to create. There are two type of work, two type of knowledge. It can be wonderful that a scientist cooperates to make the perfect roast beef. But that would be it. It can be wonderful that a scientist helps us to create a thin layer of caramel, but made of salt instead of caramel. There are two different concepts. The latest trend, which covers the last 2-3 years, 4 at the most, goes in this direction. Until then, perhaps the scientist around the kitchen (there have always been scientists in kitchens) preferred more to explain what already existed.

At elBulli, we've worked with scientists since 2003. All the techniques before 2003 were developed without their help. The hot gelatine, which without any doubt is one of the greatest contemporary techniques, was pure logic. We went to a Japanese restaurant, they served us agar-agar and we saw that it didn’t melt.

What’s the purpose of the scientific world in the kitchen? Today, thanks to Pere and Ingrid, we started to discover seven or eight natural gelling agents. You go at a different pace.

I don’t understand the characterization of molecular gastronomy as a type of cuisine. It’s happening the same that happened years ago with fusion, it’s becoming a common place. There isn’t a molecular cuisine. There’s a molecular movement, the molecular gastronomy, where some scientists cooperate with the world of cooking. Clearly, the move acts upon cooking, but I don’t think it’s a cuisine per se.

In twenty years, we could look back and see how many new techniques, more than concepts, were introduced thanks to this movement. Having said this, whoever says that this movement doesn’t have a future, only has to pick up a phone, turn on the TV or log-in the internet. Science has changed the world.
Ferran Adrià