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A Chef's Criticism of Ferran Adria's Molecular Cuisine

Dr. Faust in the Kitchen?

Chef Santi Santamaria
Chef Santi Santamaria

Editor's Note: Chef Santi Santamaria passed away in February 2011.

Mega Spanish chef Santi Santamaria railed against the cuisine of his Catalonian peer Ferran Adrià of elBulli fame. He contended to the press that, "Adrià is poisoning his patrons with his added chemicals." Adrià lashed back, "This is non-sense from all perspectives." He did not, however, deliver any evidence supporting his statement. Adrià, who popularized the molecular cuisine invented by French Chemist engineer Hervé This, has now dubbed his astonishing concoctions, "Techno-Emotional cuisine." So much for your emotions if you don’t retrieve them at the bottom of a retort.

A few chefs, the Adrià followers in Europe, use for their culinary preparations the additives recommended (and sold) by Adrià. These products are marketed under the name Texturas. Their components are commonly used in beauty products. As the advertising proclaims, "they are destined to garner your kitchen with a touch of magic." They are essential to the techno-emotional cuisine, guarantees Adrià.

Upon request of the Dean of Paris food writers Jean-Claude Ribaut, an independent laboratory has determined that the Texturas are Alginates, Calcium Gluconate, Carraghenan, and Methylcellulose, renamed for marketing purposes: Algin, Gluco, Kappa, Metil, Lecit, and Xantana. The smartly-wrapped kit of Texturas necessary for the "basic spherification"sells for around €77 and €115 for the inverse process. The first kit makes the "olive oil spherification" possible with only 48 grams of olive oil but with the help of 128 grams of Textura, mostly composed of  Isomalt. A French public service that controls food safety states that Isomalt is a polyol that can be used in food but in minute quantities. In excess, it has a laxative effect.  Calcium Glunocate has a negative impact on the rate of heart beat. Dr. J.K. Tobacmam of the University of Chicago warns that Carraghenan is a factor of the colon’s pathology, while Dr. Khayat evaluates that our body cannot assimilate Methylcellulose. Paul Vanhoutte from the Pharmacy Faculty of the Hong Kong University concludes that in small quantities, lecithin, sucrose esters, and alginates are harmful.

Chef Ferran Adria
Chef Ferran Adrià

However, the labels should specify the composition and clearly quote the dosage of each of these substances in regard to their safe, acceptable maximum in our diet. The European commission, thanks to its REACH program for the evaluation of the chemical substances, will probably take care of this necessary precaution.

If you really insist to add a touch of chemistry to your kitchen visit www.texturaselbulli.com

NB: Ferran Adrià is regularly crowned the best chef of the world by the British publication Restaurant Magazine, sponsored by Nestlé, the world’s largest food processing company
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(Updated: 02/17/11 BLS)
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