Wednesday, August 3, 2011

An artist and a scientist

I read the other day that Ferran Adria, the father of molecular gastronomy, is closing the doors of his famed restaurant El Bulli. His workshop sat 50 for one dinner service a night - a service consisting of 30-40 courses and costing well in excess of $200.

I happened to be sitting in the living room flipping channels on the television when I stumbled upon the channel guide and noticed the Travel Channel would be re-airing the episode Decoding Ferran Adria from Anthony Bourdain's show. I had to watch.

Tony mentioned that he was always leery of Ferran Adria because, as an old-fashioned line cook, he was used to slaving over a hot stove in the chaos that is the kitchen of a busy restaurant. He was a chef. An artist. Ferran Adria was a scientist. Tony wanted to know if a scientist could be an artist.

The answer was a resounding yes. Mr. Adria looks at food in a different way. He wants to touch all of the diner's senses. His creations use science and technology to create food that stirs up memories in the diner. His food is both complex and whimsical.

Art + Food + Science = Gastronomy

In his cooking, Mr. Adria asks us what is a meal? He asked us what should a meal be? He wanted to know what can a meal be?

He deconstructed a meal and rebuilt it in a play of 32 acts. Each act told a story and brought forth a memory. He believed a meal should touch all of the senses - he told Tony that 70% of a plate is the scent. He was adamant that the pace and rhythm of a meal was of the utmost importance.

Watching Ferran Adria compose his symphony of tastes and smells and textures was like watching an artist at work - an artist who knew the science underlying each and every one of his creations. He is living proof that you can't have art without science, nor can you have science without art.

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