Posted by Nils Norén
One of the biggest problems with the term Molecular Gastronomy, apart from it not sounding delicious, is that it does not give a fair picture of someone’s cuisine. For example, when I was the Executive Chef at Aquavit, I used quite a few newer techniques. A lot of the times, when I would discuss these techniques with the press or others, they would immediately say “so you are a MG chef”. NO!!!!!!!!!!!! I cooked Scandinavian food and just happened to use some newer techniques in order to get a better and more consistent result. That is the only thing I am interested in.
New techniques and technology are constantly being introduced to the kitchen. (Blender, anyone?) In recent years a lot more new technologies, ingredients, and knowledge have become available to chefs. I think chefs have a responsibility to look at these things, whether they choose to adopt them or not. Is there something out there that will improve my food? I don’t think this has anything to do with the term MG. It makes absolutely no sense to label chefs using new and different techniques, ingredients, and knowledge as a Molecular Gastronomists. I would say that most top restaurants in the world have adapted one or more new techniques that are being used to make great food. Just imagine if the term molecular was used in other fields to describe someone’s work who uses modern techniques and technology. Molecular art, molecular music, molecular architecture—doesn’t sound so good, does it?
Another misfortune of being labeled a MG chef is that it can turn customers away. They have the misconception that all dishes are coming with a foam or a gel. They also think that the meal is going to be “fuzzy.” A lot of us know it will not be, but the press including certain food critics, keeps that notion alive.
Most chefs that have been labeled as MG chefs have nothing to do with each other. Their food is so very different. That is another reason why MG is a bad term to label a restaurant’s food. I think we already have plenty of labels that we can use, e.g., ethnic, contemporary, or progressive. That is, if we really feel a need to label the restaurant in the first place.
As chefs we are, hopefully, in pursuit of deliciousness. And we are also in the business of selling our product. I don’t think being slapped with the label MG is going to benefit any restaurant in the long run. It might hurt restaurants—causing them to be seen as a fad. Quite frankly, I don’t think either the word Molecular or the word Gastronomy should be associated with describing any restaurant’s cooking. If someone wants to describe work they do outside a restaurant as MG, I am not opposed to that. But restaurants are serving dishes to diners and the food on those plates deserves a better fate and a better term, from a sales standpoint, than MG.