Food 2.0: Chefs as Chemists

Posted on November 7, 2007 

Food 2.0: Chefs as Chemists

In September, talking to an audience of chefs from around the world, Wylie Dufresne of WD-50 on the Lower East Side of Manhattan waxed enthusiastic about a type of ingredient he has been adding to his restaurant’s dishes.

Not organic Waygu beef or newfound exotic spices or eye of newt and toe of frog, but hydrocolloid gums — obscure starches and proteins usually relegated to the lower reaches of ingredient labels on products like Twinkies. These substances are helping Mr. Dufresne make eye-opening (and critically acclaimed) creations like fried mayonnaise and a foie gras that can be tied into a knot.

Chefs are using science not only to better understand their cooking, but also to create new ways of cooking. Elsewhere, chefs have played with lasers and liquid nitrogen. Restaurant kitchens are sometimes outfitted with equipment adapted from scientific laboratories.

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