Tuesday, October 18, 2011
José Andrés at Harvard
Chef José Andrés at Harvard University.
By now most readers know that I have been attending the Monday night lecture series Science and Cooking at Harvard. These lectures are not only amazingly informative and interesting but also open to the public and free. Recently, one of my favorite Chefs, internationally-renown José Andrés of the Think Food Group was the featured speaker. The first 15 minutes or so is the actual science lecture, pared down from what is actually taught in the classes at the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. The topic that night was Gelation and Spherification. Much of the lectures deal with molecular gastronomy, as some might call it. Andrés refers to it as avant garde cooking. I refer to it as techno-emotional cooking. The lecture portion covers the real science of what is happening. Things like theories of uniform motion and how uniform flow occurs at a constant velocity were presented. The diffusion of ions, which move like a random walk, in any direction, fascinated this non-scientific foodie but it really explained the principles behind what causes gelation in foods and nature.
Andrés is a very entertaining and animated speaker and very down-to-earth, despite his fame. He laid out a very convincing case to the critics (mostly food writers) of molecular gastronomy. He explained that all of the things he does in the kitchen, like creating those crazy foams and gels, occurs in nature. He recounted the personal story of how he and his wife were out boating one day and the sea had whipped up a natural foam on the water. He scooped some into his hand and tasted it, much to his wife's dismay. He now uses a foam with a salty, briny taste in some of his seafood dishes, much to the delight of diners.
I highly recommend this series for all foodies and anyone who likes to think outside the box. Beyond the food, it is really a lesson in creativity. Some upcoming speakers include Wylie Dufresne and the man who started it all, Ferran Adria. I look forward to seeing you there.
Here, again, is the link for more information: Science and Cooking