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Molecular Gastronomy is the science of cooking. It is the fusion of chemistry and physics to alter the tastes and textures of food as well as the study of the physical and chemical processes that occur while cooking. Many chefs are experimenting with food and tools from science labs. Chefs study the changes of behavior and taste in food when placed under different conditions. These modern chefs despise the term molecular gastronomy as a way to describe their cooking style, instead they'd rather call it, "modern cuisine," or "avant-garde" cuisine. One of these chefs is Heston Blumenthal, who believes that the term molecular gastronomy makes cuisine sound complicated and elitist.
Hailing from Paddington, London, Heston Blumenthal is a self-taught chef who owns The Fat Duck, which is one of four restaurants in Britain to obtain three Michelin stars. Blumenthal supports the importance of scientific understanding in cooking. His love for cooking sparked at the age of 15, when he and his family went to a Michelin-starred restaurant, although it took him a couple of years to start off his cooking career. His evenings were devoted to self-teaching the French classical repertoire. The book On Food and Cooking: the Science and Lore of the Kitchen by Harold McGee was one of the most notable readings in Blumenthal's self-education. The book encouraged Blumenthal to "adopt a totally different attitude towards cuisine that at its most basic boils down to: question everything," as he said in his The Big Fat Duck Cookbook.
Blumenthal is known for his scientific way of cooking and holds numerous honorary degrees for this. He uses liquid nitrogen to "cook" food, experiments with amplification to intensify sound, like to make the crunch more audible (who knew that was possible?), sous-vide cooking technique which is cooking food in a vacuum-sealed bag in a really low temperature water bath for a long period of time. He also believes that the best way to boil an egg is to not boil it. Confusing, but the instructions for that are here.
Thanks to Harold McGee, Blumenthal questioned traditional cooking methods which led him to create combinations which at first seems unusual. The Fat Duck offers a fourteen-course tasting menu. The menu includes Blumenthal's infamous snail porridge, scrambled egg and bacon ice cream, oyster and passion fruit jelly on lavender served in an oyster shell. Blumenthal and The Fat Duck prompted the bacon dessert craze, serving bacon flavored ice cream as early as 2004. The combinations are quite unorthodox and possibly repulsive for some customers, but the flavors play with the brain and palate surprising the taste buds with an unexpected smack.
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