Molecular Gastronomy


In these few years, molecular gastronomy has become a key topic and it is the new fashion for chefs to offer their customers. This is a new culinary trend called molecular cooking has been investigated as the most exciting development in haute gastronomy. Molecular gastronomy is refers to a modern style of cooking, which is a discipline practiced by both scientists and food professionals that studies the physical and chemical processes that occur while cooking. As well as it is the use of such studies process in many professional kitchen and lab.

Nowadays, molecular gastronomy can be seen in some haute hotels and restaurants, which has shown that this is getting popular. However, the confusion of molecular gastronomy has been appearing to be increase and what it was intended to achieve (Consin, J et al 2010). Therefore, this assignment is to explore the molecular gastronomy. Firstly, it is providing an overview of culinary changes through different periods including Tudor Kitchen, Georgian Kitchen and Victorian Kitchen as well as gastronomic figures especially Georges Ausguste Escoffier (1846-1935) who was a French chef had great contributions on gastronomy and an historical perspective and then summarise the origins and background of molecular gastronomy and the current literature of this subject.

Literature Review

The overview of culinary change

In 17th century, gastronomy had major changes, new foods arrived in this century and the taste had change. The consumption of exotic birds such as peacock, swan, crane and heron decreased and they preferred meats were beef, veal, and mutton as well as huge quantities were still remained but only freshwater fish e.g. salmon and trout were the preferred (Strong, R 2003). In this period of Tudor kitchen, the consumption of meat in the Middle Ages was very expensive, rare and very much reflected social class who could afforded. However, the consumption of bread and pottage were reflected to lower class and peasantry as well as soft cheese and eggs were available if they had hen and cow (Paston- Williams, S 1995). Almost peasantry and lower class kept animal such as pig in order to provide some fresh meat, also animal were not only used in cooking, it was used in culinary and clothing, items like bone for spoons and leather for shoes and clothes. In terms of cooking utensils, most of the utensils were made in wood or terracotta clay and no fork were used as it was unknown at that period.

The changes in Georgian time, sweet and savoury had launched in Georgian kitchen. Also, wooden trenchers and cooper pans had replaced by pewter, silver and copper pans. There was a big change in terms of British culinary habits in Victorian Period in 18th Century as well as there were more British citizens began to used imported goods. People lifestyle changed including what people ate and the way they preserved and prepared food, many kitchen tools had been invented and improved.

Eating our market had been increased as well as foreign food. Taste had major changed between 1986 and 1990, fast food outlets turnover increased by 83% and cafe and restaurant increased by 63% (Cullen, 1994).

The greatest attribute of a chef has been to create a successful and lasting fashion. This is throughout history and the tradition has also continued to be well demonstrated over the last three hundred years, by chefs such as Alexis Soyer (1809-1859) and Antonin Careme (1784-1834). However other great gastronomic figure Georges Auguste Escoffier (1846-1935) had also emerged to contribute to the development of cuisine and gastronomy. Escoffier was a French chef and legendary figure among chefs and gourmands in gastronomy. He was also one of the most important people that developed of modern French cuisine and his cuisine technique was based on Antoine Careme (Escofffier, 1921). Moreover, Escoffier’s recipes, techniques and approaches to gastronomy are still highly influence today, not only France, it have been adopted by chefs and restaurants throughout the world. He wrote the definitive text on classical cuisine Le Guide Culinaire (1902). However, it was not until the 1970s, it was because the supremacy was threatened by the arrival of nouvelle cuisine.

In 1879, Cesar Ritz and Escoffier left from the Savoy hotel and therefore, Ritz had a chance to set up his own hospitality business, it established in 1898 and called the Ritz Hotel Development Company. For Escoffier set up his kitchen and recruited the chefs for his kitchen in London (Brigid, 2004). Many clientele of the high society came from Savoy hotel to Carlton hotel where he was cooking. Carlton hotel in London offered haute cuisine at lunch and dinner as well as tea, which has became a fashionable institution in Paris and later in London (Ashburner, 2004). However, after launching the tea in hotel, it caused Escoffier real distressed as it cased that customer might have too many meals in a short period of time (James, 2006)

What has made Escoffier became successful in gastronomy. Escoffier had a better contribution in his culinary in 1913, he met Kaiser Wilhelm II on board the SS Imperator which was one of the largest ocean liners of Hamburg Amerika Line in Germany. The culinary experience on board the imperator was overseen by Ritz Carlton, the restaurant itself was a reproduction of Escoffier’s Carlton restaurant in London. He was in charged and supervising the kitchen on board the Imperator during the Kaiser to France. The Kaiser was so impressed with Escoffier’s dinner as well as Kaiser’s favourite strawberry pudding and named fraises. Therefore, he became Emperor of chefs, this was quoted frequently in the press as well as many newspapers, he was establishing Escoffier’s reputation as France’s preeminent chef (James 2006). Escoffier retired in 1920 but he continued o run the kitchen through World War One.

The Morden Gastronomy

In any historical account of gastronomy, Escoffier’s legacy is also can not be ignored. And in the modern gastronomy, he is generally considered to be main exponent of cuisine (Levy, 1984). In terms of his culinary, he broke the traditional culinary and lightened saucing and garnishing. However, he still remembered the primary for his efforts to simplify the kitchen working practices and utilise talent more rationally (Wood, 1991). He instituted the kitchen system in an effort to eliminate the disorganisation and duplication of prevalent in the conventional kitchens of the period caused by failures to institute clear cut accountability and work systems.

According to Escoffier’s partie system, in the kitchen each employee was assigned a well defined role and operated within carefully fixed parameters. A full range of job titles were developed and some of had already existed, each of the employee who work in kitchen relating to specialist range of procedures and responsibilities. Escoffier’s system was hierarchically, it stratified over the twentieth century and it has been remained to some level. Although the shortages of modified with periodic of skilled talent, but the catering production and the changes could be improved from the technological advances (Wood, 1991).

According to this hierarchy of the classically modelled ‘grand’ partie system, the top of the hierarchy was the ‘maitre chef des cuisines’ as also status as executive and was assisted by the ‘chef de cuisine’, which is the head chef that we know the role today. Below the ‘chef de cuisine’, there are one or more sous chefs, depending on the size of the brigade it was also hierarchically stratified and numerically titled, the lower possessing more seniority such as first sous chef and second sous chef. Below this level of the working members of the brigade, the specialists term ‘chefs de partie’ or other named as section head, it presided over by the premier chefs comprising chef, they were expect to be elevated to more managerial roles by dint of their knowledge and successful passage through of the ranks. The lowest rank in the class kitchen is ‘apprenti’ (Gillespie, 1994).

Escoffier’s kitchen should stimulate and provides training in order to develop individuals to the stage where a thorough basic and eventual specialism in the craft of the chef could be codified. To some people thought that Escoffier’s hierarchy was viewed as bureaucratic founded phenomenon constraining innovation in cuisine. But the outcome of the system for chef was that they formed a formal job structure, a culinary aristocracy comprising those who had made it through the hierarchy to become a head chef (James, 2006).

Nowadays, many restaurants and hotel the kitchen has been designed to be more productive and the organisation of production has become more systematic, this is designed around standardised final products, these changes is due to the cook chill and in the ability of yeast to be reactivated after freezing have changed approaches to the preparation of food. Therefore, the kitchen system have reduced die to the ability of technology to maintain freshly prepared food for long period of time (Riley, 2005).

Moreover, technology of food production, storage and regeneration are supporting for attractions of food and the cooking order might require a long time for cooking. Other alternative is to offering a small variety produce at a controlled level of quality. This could be more productive, but it could segment the market (Riley, 2000). To addition, many people prefer ‘keep it simple’, which means not so complex of the food, even at the higher level in the restaurant. However, according to the French cuisine in earlier times, cuisine was based on Escoffier’s guide to modern cookery encouraged large a la carte menu (Riley, 2005). Not only the knowledge of French cuisine as well as other national cuisines have embedded within a set of physical or craft skill, this is in order to perform and motivate of the occupation chef. Despite the fact that the principles of cookery can be taught outside the French cooking class, it is essential for any level of cooking, even the mixture of cuisine which is beloved of famous chefs. However, within the vocational education, there was debating of serious issues of resourcing chef training (Baker et al, 1995).

The fashion of culinary

Professional chefs need to have a well knowledge and skills, also cultural and artistic training are also essential. According to Ferguson and Berger (1985), creativity is important and the first priority element in culinary education, it is in order to develop the best chef in future. However, there was a research that mentioned culinary arts has been limited, but cooking is still seen as a skill oriented discipline (Horng and Lee, 2009). In the old days, the chefs were mainly focused on developing culinary skills and techniques, modern management concepts and creativity were not in the core when they were in training. However, in now a days, with the advantages of the internet and more advanced technologies for communication and transportation. Therefore food cultures and markets could become more diversified than the old days. There is an increasing number of creative professional in the culinary arts, it is because of the higher level institutes for culinary education. This has become the most important in culinary education (Guildford, 1950). In the traditional assumption of individual’s creativity is mainly based on their own personal characteristics (Simonton, 1988), creativity is linked to environmental variables, and the outcome is that the environment might play a role in fostering, stimulating or repressing creativity (Sternberg, 1988). Creativity is mainly influenced by environment and culture, as well as the background and the context of the people where they grew up, in the special field which is to express the personal creativity and a range of other social and cultural factors (Horng and Lee, 2009). In recent years, the social and environmental factors of creativity have become clearer, cooperation and competition between chefs could also help chef encourage individual culinary creativity (Yeh, 2004)

Nowadays, good chef not only needs a good skill and technique of cooking, they also need to have a potential of business management skill as well as creativity in order to enhance the commercial success (Gillespie, 1994). In recent years, public relations play an important role, it is to spreading information to the media or press in order to maintain a recognisable profile (Levin, 1993). Furthermore, good chefs noticed that the importance of fashion ability by establishing their won market within contemporary culinary culture. The merchandising of having an own brand product is one simple way and very effective of doing this, there a more chef endorse other merchandise, equipment, plant and companies (Gillespie, 1993).

The status is very important to chef as a motivation and a major driving force of these individuals, also chefs have an ability to differentiate themselves from other chefs quite startlingly. Whereas, the status and the rank in the Escoffier style culinary was based as much on training program, as well as length of service and apprenticeships, the status hierarchy of chefs is much flatter in nowadays. Serving in the world great hotels is no longer as a guarantee of star status (Gillespie, 1994).

The molecular gastronomy

For years, there is a culinary combined with creative and fashion called molecular cooking, it is a new trend in gastronomy and it is the most exciting development in haute cuisine, it is a modern style of cooking which takes advantages of innovations from scientific discipline. It is a new fashion for chefs offering some fake food which is used by chemical and other ingredients. E.g. fake caviar made from sodium alginate and calcium, spaghetti made from vegetables and ice cream made from liquid nitrogen (This, 2006). Molecular gastronomy is invested by both scientists and food professionals that occur while cooking, the current objective of molecular gastronomy is to investigate and explain the chemical reasons behind the transformation of ingredients, also social, artistic and technical are the important components of culinary gastronomic phenomena in general (This, 2006).

The origins of the term molecular cuisine was firstly invested by Herve This and Nicholas Kurti. Herve This is a French physical chemist and work at the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique dates the invention of molecular gastronomy to 1988, he is specific interesting and keen on molecular gastronomy which is the science of culinary phenomena. Nicholas Kurti (1908-1998), he was a Hungarian born physicist and one of the leading experimental physicists. He is also interesting in cooking and always applying scientific knowledge to culinary problems, he had been given a title as the physicist in the kitchen (This, 2005). The name of Molecular gastronomy came from the international commercial workshop on the on the physical and chemical aspects of cooking which was run by This and Kurti, also Kurti and This used the term molecular and physical gastronomy. However, after Kurti died in 1998, they decided to use the less cumbersome term molecular gastronomy that they always preferred (This, 2005). Moreover, the epithet molecular was chosen to limit the scope of this new scientific enterprise on gastronomy the definition of gastronomy is the reasoned knowledge of all that relate to human feeding themselves, It is aiming to the preservation of man by means of the best possible food. The original objectives of molecular gastronomy are exploring existing recipes also introducing new tools, ingredients and methods into the kitchen and lastly, using molecular gastronomy to help the general public understand the contribution of science to society (This, 2006). Furthermore, the original of investigation of molecular gastronomy are investigate how ingredients could changed by different cooking methods, using machine of aroma to release and the perception of taste and flavour, how cooking methods affect the eventual flavour and texture of food ingredients as well as how new cooking methods might improve the result of texture and flavour (This, 2005).

The chemistry and physics of the phenomenon, behind the preparation of any food is in order to gain knowledge through the scientific study of food preparation which enable to be healthier, attractive and more people to cook better food. As a molecular gastronomy, it could inspire chefs to create exciting new dishes and inventions (This, 2006). To addition, there were many scientists had contributions in the science of food preparation, but there was difference between the science of ingredients and the science of culinary processes. Although there have an impact on other aspect of lives, but scientific advances have done little to change the cooking habits (Kurti, 1995).

In the evolution of molecular gastronomy, often there has been misused in the media for chefs apply molecular cooking techniques developed by scientists to their own way of cooking. However, molecular gastronomy has been misunderstanding that the trend on cooking or cooking techniques, consequently many chefs was successfully adopting tools and techniques more traditionally associated with the sciences than culinary arts (Blanck, 2007). According to Nation’s Restaurant News, Ferran Adria has always been promoted as being a founder of the molecular gastronomy trend in cooking and his restaurant el Bulli has been named as ground zero for the world’s molecular gastronomy movement (Walkup, 2006).

Molecular gastronomy seem to be phenomenon throughout the European, but in USA there are two profile studies have been highly recognised into the scientific study of cooking: culinology and experimental cuisine (Consins et al, 2010). According to Food Product Design mentioned that the term culinology was coined in 1996 by American Research Chefs Association (ARCA), they described the fusion of two disciplines which were culinary art and food technology, which is to allow the blending of culinary art and the science of food (Cousminer, 1999). ARCA offers degrees which are focused on the science of mass food production and preservation of restaurant such as dishes based on culinary artistry in many colleges and universities (Cousminer, 1999).

Molecular gastronomy has been launched over 20 years, Mr This analysis recipes from the old days, this is try and see whether the old chefs’ intuitions could be scientifically tested to show if they made sense or not (Cressey, 2008). This is because of many chefs often making very precise observations of chemical reactions in the kitchen. However, sometimes chef’s explanation was rather unscientific. Moreover, Mr this are interesting putting old chef’s quote through scientific testing is very typical of the French mind, more related to rationality and abstract reasoning but proudly attached to its century old traditions at the same time (This, 2006).


The aim of this assignment was to explore the changes of gastronomy from the old days till nowadays. The literature review had highlighted that throughout the history, fashion, modern and fashion of gastronomy as well as the newest culinary molecular gastronomy. The great people had contribution on gastronomy and they had a big impact on modern gastronomy as well as the changes of daily life in this century. Moreover, in the last 300 years, the changes inside the kitchen as well as cooking tools had all contributed to the improvement of culinary. Escoffier had a big contribution on gastronomy and his effort from the past had also influence the chefs in nowadays. He codified the cuisine of the time and also built up the foundations of modern professional cookery and food production management. To addition, the gastronomy movement from the end of the twentieth century, which is known as nouvelle cuisine was also initiated. This was supported by a range of chefs at the top of their professional and also supported by the influential and knowledgeable publishers at the time.

Moreover, the physical chemist Herve This and the physicist Nicholas Kurti, they had explored the science of cookery and launched molecular gastronomy, even though Kurti died, This was keep exploring the science of cookery to culinary, also they referenced from the past gastronomic figures in order to improve the culinary and more innovation of science of cookery. Having used the term molecular gastronomy, it has since become also associated with culinary movement. Adria is a chef that developing new and distinctive type of restaurant concept, dining experiences and the most important is they also follow the traditions of the great innovators of the last 300 years who were working in gastronomy. Although molecular gastronomy is still very fresh and new to customers and might only offer in the high level restaurants, but surely molecular gastronomy could be common to people and this developments will lead to a lasting gastronomic movement, however, the movement will clearly need to be accepted and understand the name.

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