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Culinary Central

Molecular Gastronomy: Playing with Your Food

October 23, 2013 Aaron Colby Seattle 0 Comments

Molecular Gastronomy: Playing with Your Food

At one time or another growing up, you were likely reprimanded for playing with your food. Today, as a student of the Seattle culinary school Le Cordon Bleu, you’re not only encouraged to play with your food, but experiment with it too…especially if you want to pursue molecular gastronomy.

Considered a branch of food science, molecular gastronomy is a growing culinary trend that examines and seeks to understand the chemical and physical reactions that occur while food is cooking. By manipulating cooking processes and using specialized equipment and additives, you can learn to deconstruct and reconstruct classic recipes in new and innovative ways such as faux caviar, spherical ravioli and crab ice cream.

First introduced in 1992 by a chemist and physicist, molecular gastronomy has recently gained more widespread appeal thanks to contemporary chefs demonstrating this trend on reality TV cooking competitions. While the techniques are sophisticated and may take years to master, if you’re interested learning more about this culinary specialty, you should not be intimidated.

Le Cordon Bleu will provide you a solid foundation from which to build upon during your training at the Seattle culinary school. Molecular gastronomy requires use of both your right and left brain, as most recipes must be precisely followed. Working in this field requires professional experience beyond your culinary education.  Your Culinary Foundations I and II coursework will prepare you on the use of commercial equipment, the importance recipe adherence and, of course, understanding measurement formulas and give you the confidence to add your own creative flair.

Students will soon learn about ingredients and processes utilized in everyday cooking that have roots in molecular gastronomy, such as the use thickening agents, emulsifiers and stabilizers in making gravies, sauces, desserts and more as part of the Le Cordon Bleu foundational level coursework in both the culinary and patisserie and baking certificate programs.
Some of these molecular gastronomy processes students will be exposed to include:

Gelification: This process involves turning liquids into solids, a process made popular by the brand name dessert, Jell-O®. Students will explore this technique in learning to create gelatin-based desserts, aspics and other recipes.

Emulsification: This process mixes two or more liquids, normally considered not blendable. A common example is oil and water vinaigrette. These two liquids must be continually well shaken to avoid separating. Adding an emulsifier enables the oil to disperse in the water. Imagine how unappealing mayonnaise would be without an emulsifying agent. Students will also explore this technique in making forcemeat, where a mixture of ground, lean meat is emulsified with fat.

Dehydration: This process involves drawing water out of food as a means of preserving food over a long period, such as turning meat into jerky or drying out fruit. This practice will be covered in students’ coursework in charcuterie methods, particularly in preparing cured meats.

Although the term molecular gastronomy sounds more like food gone sour in your stomach; it’s a dynamic an exciting new field. If you’re craving a mix of culinary art with food science, this may just be the path for you.

This article is presented by Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Seattle. Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Seattle offers culinary arts and pâtisserie and baking training programs. To learn more about the class offerings, please visit Chefs.edu/Seattle for more information. 

Find disclosures on graduation rates, student financial obligations and more at www.chefs.edu/disclosures.  Le Cordon Bleu® and the Le Cordon Bleu logo are registered trademarks of Career Education Corporation. Le Cordon Bleu cannot guarantee employment or salary. Credits earned are unlikely to transfer.

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