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Is Modern Gastronomy Off Course?

Frédy Girardet's Critique of the Avant-Garde

Frédy Girardet

Traditional
vs.
Modern

Ferran Adrià of El Bulli
Frédy Girardet   Ferran Adrià

Molecular gastronomy, in which avant-garde cooking techniques are used to combine unusual flavors and textures, has been made famous by such forward-thinking chefs as Ferran Adrià of elBulli in Spain, Heston Blumenthal of The Fat Duck in the U.K., Denis Martin in Switzerland, and Homaro Cantu of Chicago’s Moto. However, renowned chef Frédy Girardet, best known for his eponymous restaurant in Crissier, Switzerland, has taken issue with these methods. In an interview with the influential food writer and author Jean-Claude Ribaud in the French newspaper Le Monde, Girardet denounced chefs who “believe modernity is about turning their kitchen into a laboratory.” These chefs, Girardet goes on to say, have “no qualms about using synthetic products–additives, colorings, flavor enhancers–indiscriminately.”

The retired Swiss chef deplores the loss of the original flavors resulting from the trituration and the “destructuration” of the products. He did not mention any chef or any dish. Foodies, however, know that these unusual preparations created by chefs like Adrià and a few others can include frozen whisky sour candy, white garlic and almond sorbet, tobacco-flavored blackberry crushed ice, and Kellogg’s paella (Rice Krispies, shrimp heads and vanilla-flavored mashed potatoes). Girardet insists, “We need to finish with these mish-mashed, sweet-tasting avant-garde dishes...where nothing is identifiable, neither texture, nor freshness, nor the original taste of the product.” Girardet does not think this kind of culinary experimentation, bodes well for the future of haute cuisine if “young chefs, unsure which path to take…, take this as their model.”

What do you think about molecular gastronomy? Whose side are you on? Share your thoughts with us and other readers on our forum!


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