Research Critique of " Molecular Gastronomy: Cuisine Innovation or Modern Day Alchemy?"
Villongco, Jocen Q.
De La Salle – College of Saint Benilde
July 9, 2012
This paper aims to explore the phenomenon of molecular gastronomy by conducting empirical research focusing on renowned chefs. The approach taken is a literature review summarizing past culinary innovations by great chefs over the last 300 years. The concept of Nouvelle Cuisine was highlighted as the latest gastronomic development to emerge. Then the paper focuses on the origins and evolution of molecular gastronomy from Herve This and Nicholas Kurti; they created the study as a branch of food science.
The phenomenon of molecular gastronomy was further discussed with chefs successfully adopting tools of molecular gastronomy and gives a summary of academic literature surrounding molecular gastronomy and similar phenomena.
This is followed by 18 phenomenological interviews with a snowball sample of chefs from across Europe. All chefs are from restaurants with at least one Michelin star or in the list of 50 top restaurants. The interview had a small number of pre-planned questions to allow for an emergent dialogue and thus a better discovery of the chef’s own unique experience of the phenomenon.
In the research findings, there is far greater confusion about what molecular gastronomy might be than is implied in previous studies. The term has become wrongly used to describe a possible culinary movement. Leading chefs, whose new restaurant concepts have become associated with it, reject the term. This initial research presents a clear picture of its evolution so far and the increasing confusion the use of the term has created. It is still far too early to decide if these are heralding a new gastronomic movement.
Although molecular gastronomy itself may not provide a foundation for a genuine and lasting development of cuisine it is generating fascination with the fundamental science and techniques of cuisine and showy culinary alchemy. As with nouvelle cuisine poor quality copycat chefs could bring into disrepute the reputation and practices of those who are at the vanguard of culinary and restaurant innovation. Statement of the Problem
The problem is clearly stated in the title “Molecular Gastronomy: cuisine innovation or modern day alchemy?” The problem is practically important due to molecular gastronomy as the latest gastronomic movement such that there is an increasing confusion as to what is really is and what it intends to achieve. The researchers seek to explore the phenomenon of molecular gastronomy to be able to further define it and by putting forward the original concept of molecular gastronomy by conducting empirical research focusing on renowned chefs. The research hypothesis is that molecular gastronomy could be identified and its development could be assessed as a culinary change correlating it foundations to other culinary movements and trends.
The keys terms are consistently defined throughout the research in a chronological summary. The overview of culinary change summarizes concepts on the Guide Michelin, Nouvelle cuisine and such terms that contribute to the development of cuisine and gastronomy. The origins of the term molecular gastronomy and phenomenon of molecular gastronomy further defines and explains all the key terms that is needed for the article.
Review of Literature
The cited sources are all generally pertinent to the research. The review is unapologetically broad and its references both ancient and recent because of the nature of its hypothesis stemming from an overview of culinary change demonstrated by chefs over the last three hundred years followed by the origins and phenomenon of molecular gastronomy still only in its 20 years of history. Molecular gastronomy is comparatively a new phenomenon, so references are very limited and would be prone to some bias. Yet there is no evidence of bias....
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