Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Molecular Gastronomy

Pau Arenós, Catalan journalist

Ferran Adria of El Bulli

Having recently had the great pleasure of hearing Ferran Adria speak at Harvard University and seeing him up close and personal it was very clear that he is a man on a mission and that mission is to really define this melding of science and food known to most as molecular gastronomy. Seeking a more intellectual approach, I began to research. I went to The Egullet Society for Culinary Arts and Letters. What I found is a document put forth by Pau Arenós, a Catalan journalist and friend of Adria, called the Ten Fundamental Principles of Technoemotional Cooking. What it does is set forth the main characteristics that help to define this new school of modern western cuisine. The latest name for all of this, as bandied about by Adria himself during the lecture, was "scientific cooking."

Arenós has provided a definition of the major modern movement that he calls "technoemotional cuisine" with 10 points covering the various aspects of that movement. One thing that has been agreed upon by most is that heretofore an adequate and universally accepted name to describe this contemporary cuisine embodied by Ferran Adria and his peers and followers has not been coined. Perhaps the most well known moniker has been "Molecular Gastronomy" with others like "hypermodern" or "Vanguard Cuisine" also having been bandied about. Arenós' name for the movement comes directly from his 10 points. Combined, these tend to capture the essence of that style of cooking and provide a descriptive name that fits to t. The styles of chefs like Adria, Achatz, Dufresne and Aduriz, for example all fall under his description though not every chef will necessarily fit all 10 points to the same degree and some of these points may be shared by other schools of cuisine.


according to Pau Arenós

1.Cooking is a language that allows cooks to express themselves. Cooks create for themselves, although they wish to share their creations with others and hope they will be appreciated.

2.Cooks take risks; they know their suggestions may not be understood. The risks in technoemotional cooking are greater than in other culinary movements.

3.Cooks do not create dish by dish. Their aim is to open up new paths using techniques and concepts.

4.Their creations set out to stimulate all the senses. The sense of touch becomes important as the cook works with textures and temperatures.

5.The culinary action surpasses what is physical and sensory, and focuses on emotional and intellectual aspects. Intellectual pleasure is sought through humor, provocation, reflection, etc.

6.The creator relates with other disciplines to achieve the above, also with new technologies.

7.Diners are not passive but active. The act of eating requires concentration and a specific disposition.

8.All products have the same gastronomic value.

9.The frontiers disappear between sweet and savory, between the main ingredients and the complementary ones. The ideal means of expression is a degustation menu.

10.Cooking is a way of life. The restaurant is not just a business.

With these principles in mind it becomes easier to understand just exactly what is being done here: a whole new approach to cooking with guidelines that are not necessarily the same that you or I would use but interesting to understand as the goals are just not the same as what they are in other schools of cuisine.


  1. I'm very interested in molecular gastronomy but for some reason lean very far away from it with my own food style. Perhaps I'm just lazy!

  2. Lots of chefs have signed up to the Principles, but very few have the courage to go through with them. It's not surprising. You try telling the Michelin inspectors that all food products have the same gastronomic value. But the best restaurants are moving in this direction and the results can be extraordinary.