February 05, 2005

High-tech food

The Ulterior Epicure comments on the popularity of chefs-slash-"food technicians" like Spain's Adria Ferran and Chicago's Homaro Cantu. These guys' kitchens look more like laboratories, and they don't hesitate to impose their own will on the food they prepare.

Is this what I want from a top-of-the-line chef?

My agrarian sensibilities tell me no. If I want high-tech food, I'll just go get myself a tube of Pringles. Or Spam. If I want to eat out, a meal at McDonald's demonstrates just as well the power of modern technology to reconstitute basic food products into previously unthought-of and alien forms, flavors, and textures. I don't need no stinkin' Adria Ferran for that.

And yet... One of the things I love about the great chefs is their ability to give me unlooked-for surprises. As in, "Wow! I didn't know a pear could taste like that!" All great chefs impose themselves on their food, but somehow there seems to be a difference between Thomas Keller and a food technician working in the laboratories of Procter & Gamble. Both undoubtedly "intervene" in their food, but the former takes his cue from the food itself, while the latter forces his food into some ideal that originated in a marketing study. Big difference.

I'm curious about Cantu and Ferran. Are they more like Charlie Trotter or more like KFC? Maybe the Ulterior Epicure will investigate further, and will let me know.

Posted by Carey at February 5, 2005 08:14 PM
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