Feature

Are Chefs Favoring Simpler Techniques Over Molecular Gastronomy?

Food Trends 2012 Header

PBS shines a light on latest food trends in 2012 thus far. We set out to see what is new in the culinary world and what the near future looks like for foodies, so we spoke with esteemed chefs and culinary professionals across the country to get their insight on this phenomenon.

Ratatouille ingredients

Chefs are remembering why they love produce, and returning to simpler techniques to emphasize flavor. Photo Credit: Jenna Weber, eatliverun.com

Follow PBS Food on Pinterest

By Alex Fishler

Chefs seem to be going back to their roots and toning down extravagant cooking styles like molecular gastronomy to highlight the purity of their ingredients.

Chef Chad Johnson of SideBern’s in Tampa, Fla. said he was more looking forward to a decline in trends like molecular gastronomy than is about new emerging trends. Molecular gastronomy is a type of cooking that highlights physical and chemical reactions that has become very popular in many high-end restaurants.

“Don’t get me wrong, I currently use and will continue to use some of the new techniques that have become popular over the past few years. I just feel the molecular gastronomy movement was blown out of proportion,” he clarified.

Johnson said he thinks simple cooking techniques highlight what it means to truly be a skilled professional. “It doesn’t matter if a chef can make food into a foam, and make that foam freeze, float, and do back flips, if it doesn’t taste good then the chef failed. Over the past few years I’ve seen too many chefs using these techniques to stroke their own ego and not because it improves the food,” he said.

“There are kids coming out of culinary school that can make a beautiful sous-vide chicken breast with a foam of chicken jus, unfortunately they don’t know how to butcher the chicken to get to the breast, or how to turn the bones into Basics to stock,” he said.

Many other chefs said they like the idea of letting the raw ingredients speak for themselves in their dishes.

“A return to vegetables has me very, very, very excited. I love vegetables. I am glad chefs as a community are putting more emphasis on produce, especially local produce,” said Chef Vishwesh Bhatt of Snackbar in Oxford, Miss.

Simpler cooking techniques can help to highlight the purity of the produce according to Chef Jennifer Jasinski of Rioja in Denver. She added that she tries to use “clean flavors and stripping things down.”

“This is what I have always tried to do, and it seems like it’s coming back and all the molecular gastronomy stuff is not as popular,” she said.

Chefs Featured in This Article

Chef Chad JohnsonChef Chad Johnson is the executive chef at SideBern’s, a restaurant, in Tampa, Florida. He was nominated for the 2012 James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef: South.

Chef Vishwesh BhattVishwesh Bhatt is originally from India, but now is a chef at SNACKBAR in Oxford, Mississippi. He was nominated for the 2012 James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef: South.

Chef Jennifer JasinskiChef Jennifer Jasinski is the chef and owner of Rioja in Denver, Colorado. She was nominated in 2010 and 2012 for the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef: Southwest.