Want to get a chef all worked up? Just ask him for his thoughts on molecular gastronomy, the strange cooking style that uses highly scientific techniques and ingredients to make other-worldly, modern cuisine. It's perhaps more popular in Spain and Chicago (and on Top Chef) than it is in NYC restaurants, but most culinary professionals in this city still have strong opinions about it, even if they don't cook that kind of food, or eat it often.
Many love the cuisine, but hate the name. Others think it's pretentious, overrated, or just "over" in general. But for whatever reason, chefs just love to talk about it. Here's a collection of soundbites from 15 top toques about molecular gastronomy.
15) Wylie Dufresne: "What does it even mean? What does it mean when you say to your wife, 'Hey we're going out to dinner tonight. Do you want Chinese, Italian or molecular gastronomy?'" [~EN~]
14) Thomas Keller: "Well, remember, molecular gastronomy is something the media has used as a phrase to identify a new style of food. It’s not something any of the cooks that are doing it have ever said about the food they do." [Gilded Fork]
13) Chris Santos: "A lot of times people ask me about new trends in cooking, like molecular gastronomy, and I say, ‘Just give me some fire and I’ll give you some good food.'" [Zagat]
12) David Chang: "It's never going to lose the name molecular. Hippies don't like being called hippies, but that's what everyone knows them by." [Time]
11) Michael Laiskonis: "While I embrace the spirit of what some term 'molecular gastronomy' and respect the serious practitioners of that style, I worry about the next generation of cooks coming up that might attach themselves too closely to it out of fashion, while ignoring the more basic fundamentals of cooking." [RG]
10) Johnny Iuzzini (on being called a "Molecular Gastronomist"): "That is such a horrible term, just because you have a modern style and use some modern techniques does not mean that you are a molecular gastronomist! That term doesn't sound delicious at all!" [Global Chefs]
9) Anthony Bourdain: "“It doesn’t sound like anything I would be in the mood for. The majority of people do it clumsily or badly. But when you complain about, you’re like my grandparents complaining about the electric guitar." [TSU]
8) Eric Ripert: "Molecular for molecular, cooking for the technique, I think that is over." [The Feast]
7) Daniel Boulud: "Molecular gastronomy is interesting for the mind, but not always interesting for the soul. It's very much like conceptual art. It triggers many senses, which are not known by yourself, but at the same time it doesn't leave you wanting to come back." [Vancouver Sun]
6) Jimmy Bradley: "It’s not for me to say, but you won’t see me messing around with it." [RG]
5) Dan Kluger: "I think there's certainly a place for molecular gastronomy and really high end cuisine. But for me, making great tasting food is why I'm here." [Star Chefs]
4) John Delucie: "Molecular gastronomy is lost on me. I don’t want to eat xantham gum and I am not captivated by a technology that’s gives us bacon ice cream. I prefer chocolate." [RG]
3) Alain Ducasse: "I prefer to be able to identify what I'm eating. I have to know. It's `wow' effect food, virtual food. If we were surrounded by these restaurants, we would be in trouble." [Bloomberg]
2) Joel Robuchon: "Too many chefs are attracted to molecular gastronomy... It’s not the kind of cuisine that should be important, with all the additives. I know I was really the first one to make it famous, but I have complete control of what I’m doing." [NYP]
1) Eddie Huang: "Me and @No7restaurant love molecular gastronomy but only if it involves astronaut ice cream." [Twitter]
Oh, and that Greg Grossman kid isn't a fan of the term, either.