Modern Chefs More Scientist Than Cook

If you’re a chef, then the chance that you’re ever really satisfied—creatively, intellectually and emotionally—is few and far between. To be a chef means that you’re always on a quest to create something new, different or cutting edge. Putting your best foot forward is not enough—putting your heart and soul into each dish—is more like it.

These days, chefs aren’t just practicing an experimental way of cooking. They’re bringing in science! Let’s take a look at the modern day chef, and the new types of ingredients he or she is incorporating into their plated artwork.

Consider Chefs the New Chemists

In recent years, there’s been a crossover between food science and culinary art. No longer are they two separate approaches to food instead one and the same. Food science has been around for over a hundred years, as a way for food to survive its trip to the supermarket and avoid spoiling on the shelves. But the fact is, cooking well involves chemistry.

As recently noted in the New York Times, Chicago area chef, Grant Achatz of Alinea, uses hydrocolloid (which are particles that connect to water and to each other) made from gelatin and seaweed, which he places over meat as it cooks. Then, he places a Guinness flavored veil on top, giving his meat a flavorful, unique glaze his guests can savor with each bite. If he had just used gelatin by itself, it would have merely melted—and unable to give him the culinary creation he needed.

Other chefs, such as David Kinch who creates dishes made from local, fresh ingredients, utilizes a scientific approach to his cooking method. Kinch adds xanthan gum when he purees fresh vegetables to keep too much liquid from leaking out.

When Chefs Become Scientists, the Possibilities Are Endless

Flexible Butter is another highly versatile creation that arrived in the culinary world when cooking merged with chemistry. When konjac four is mixed with xanthan gum, it creates an elastic, kind of thickener (where on its own, xanthan gum acts more like a gel). Through experimentation chefs discovered mixing 30 percent xanthan gum with 70 percent kojac flour created Flexible Butter.

Sure, a great dish can exist without a scientific approach to it, but our food choices would be limited. After all there’s nothing that tastes quite as good as a new texture, flavor or new culinary dish. If food is love, than the future of food will bring you a whole new reason to love every bite!