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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Molecular Gastronomy A Growing Bay Area Trend: Say What?

Posted By on Tue, Nov 27, 2007 at 9:00 AM


Chef Mark Dommen, of the recently Michelin-starred and shamefully scarlet-boxed San Francisco restaurant One Market, tells the Examiner that molecular gastronomy may be the next big trend in Bay Area restaurants:

"Bay Area is starting to embrace molecular gastronomy, cooking at low temperature. That’s starting to gain more popularity here because it allows you to be a little more creative. It helps you produce a more consistent product and higher quality."

So, what the hell is molecular gastronomy, and why would you want to eat it? Basically, the term refers to the application of scientific principles to cooking, along with some nifty new substances and techniques. Most notable technique-wise is Sous-vide (French for "under vacuum"), which involves cooking food (usually meat) very, very slowly in an airtight plastic bag in water at very low temperatures. The airtight seal and slow poach are renowned for producing more flavorful and supremely tender dishes.

On the substance front there's the rising popularity of Guar Gum, literally the ground endosperm of guar beans, often used in place of cornstarch as a superior thickening agent and binder in dairy, dressings and sauces.

An handful of popular chefs have made their names in part by championing and pioneering molecular gastronomy techniques, including Ferran Adrià of Spain's legendary El Bulli restaurant (named as the world's best restaurant this year by Restaurant Magazine) and Wylie Dufresne of New York City's wd~50.

So now you know!

Fried Chicken (sous vide) by arndog on Flickr

-- Brian Bernbaum

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