I’m sure you’ve heard about molecular gastronomy. You’ve probably even seen some of it in practice on Top Chef – remember Marcel from season 2? Marcel might not be the expert, but he definitely brought MG into many a living room.
The expert, many would say is Ferran Adrià of elBulli restaurant outside Barcelona. And since I’m living here in Cambridge, how could I resist mentioning Adrià’s recent visit to that small liberal arts college down the road (and my alma mater) to explore the connections between science and food and to participate in an interchange of ideas, some academic but largely applied. He had lessons for Haaaahvaaaahd professors and students, sitting in on classes across various science and engineering disciplines and even marketing and innovation classes in the B-school (there was even an HBS case written about his restaurant). And apparently he came across the Atlantic with the intention of bringing some lessons back home as well as to sign an agreement for an ongoing collaboration with Harvard scientists.
Here is an interesting clip of a lecture where he demonstrated some of his techniques, speaking in his native Catalan. It’s just beautiful to watch! Not just the food preparation (melon caviar) and results, but a comment that Adrià makes before the first demonstration, translated by Professor Roberto Kolter — “‘The whole world gives him adjectives, but he wants to be a cook. He wants to be happy with what he does, and he wants to make people happy.”
I predict that Adrià will receive an honorary PhD from Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences this year, or better yet, from HBS (take that Clayton Christensen… the Innovator’s Recipe?).
Now, if you’re thinking, “I keep kosher. I won’t be able to partake in all of these foams and caviars that seem to personify today’s molecular gastronomy” — fear not. Even though many of the experimental techniques use less traditional and some non-kosher ingredients, MG is largely about scientific process, experimentation, and understanding food. And a week and a half ago ago, Canela in Jerusalem held a special Sunday evening feast featuring many of these avant-garde techniques, as reported in the Jerusalem Post, apparently the second such meal in Israel. Of course, let’s see when it comes to NY…
Additional (selected) press coverage on Adrià’s visit to Cambridge: