What does science have to do with gastronomy? What are the links between French and Irish cuisines? These were the questions answered at the ‘The Tree of Knowledge: Growth Through Cooking’ Conference in the Dublin Institute of Technology Bolton Street on 23rd of November. An event organised by the Embassy of France and DIT, in association with Higher Education Authority and Campus France.
Keynote speaker Dr. Hervé This, Director of the International Centre for Molecular Gastronomy AgroParisTech-INRA, spoke along three other French and Irish experts; Prof. Marc de Ferrière Le Vayer, Prof. Stephen Mennell and Dr. Mairtin Mc Con Iomaire. Dr. This’s keynote speech was titled “Molecular Gastronomy and Note by Note Cooking, A Story of Science and Cooking for The Future”.
Dr. This is the man responsible for modernisation of scientific cooking. In the 1980’s he created the term ‘Molecular Gastronomy’, a concept we have become familiar with through the efforts of famous chefs such as Heston Blumenthal of the Fat Duck and Ferran Adrià of elBulli. However, with Gallic wit and charm, This declared that he is not to be confused with a chef, “there are no pans in my kitchen”. He explained that while molecular gastronomy might start from cooking the goal is not to make food, but instead to make scientific discoveries and calculations.
This emphasised that he was not in Dublin just to discuss Molecular Gastronomy though, “this is the past. You deserve better. The future is Note by Note Cooking”. He described how dishes in Note by Note cooking are made using pure compounds instead of using animal or plant tissues and compared the cuisine to how “a painter using primary colours, or a musician composing note by note”. This discussed the evolution of Note by Note Cooking since he predicted that it would be the “future of food” in 1994. The first Note by Note meal was prepared in Hong Kong in 2008 and each year since 2010 This has prepared a Note by Note dinner with the chefs and students at Le Cordon Bleu.
Looking to the future This says that if science, technology and cooking work together new flavours and new foods are on the horizon, “the number of possibilities are infinite”. He suggested that food created Note by Note would be more sustainable as it does not need to refrigerated, and that it could be the solution to huge issue of food waste. Demonstrating the possibilities of the cuisine This whipped up a faux egg-based ‘dessert’ made from plant protein, water, oil, sugar, citric acid and colouring. The blue mixture was microwaved and then served to a brave member of the French Embassy. To close This said that cooking is about “making people happy together” and is a combination of love, art and technology. While he will continue to research the technology he said it is up to the chefs of the future, such as those in DIT’s Culinary school to bring the other elements together.
In the second talk that evening “Food as a culture”, Prof. Marc de Ferrière le Vayer (Chaire Unesco Tours) explained how food can be seen as an element of cultural heritage for populations and as such, an element of their identity. He asserted that seeing food through culture is not only a way of defending practices and recipes but also defending food production, knowledge and skills. Following this, Prof. Stephen Mennell (UCD/RIA) revisited his prize-winning book ‘All Manners of Food’ in a speech titled “All manners of food: How French haute cuisine conquered the world” reflected on how France acquired leadership of the culinary world, and on some of the developments in gastronomy over the last three decades. Finally Dr. Mairtin Mc ConIomaire (DIT) discussed “The influence of French Haute Cuisine on the development of Dublin Restaurants”.
To learn more about Note by Note cooking watch the video below.
Erica grew up with a baker and confectioner for a father, and a mother with an instinct and love for good food. It is little wonder then that, after a brief dalliance with law, she completed a Masters degree in Food Business at UCC. With a consuming passion for all things food, nutrition and wellness, working with TheTaste is a perfect fit for Erica; allowing her to learn and experience every aspect of the food world meeting its characters and influencers along the way.