The phrase “molecular gastronomy” has been thrown around a lot recently, most often in reference to high-tech, high-concept cookery practiced by pointy-haired runner-up Marcel Vigneron on Top Chef. Chow’s currently showing a slideshow that breaks down the art as practiced by one of its greatest masters, Grant Achatz of Chicago restaurant Alinea.
Marcel’s cooking on Top Chef was a childish burlesque of what’s being done so masterfully at restaurants like Alinea and Cantu (also in Chicago), El Bulli in Spain, and wd-50 here in New York. Chow’s feature illustrates molecular gastronomy at its best — specifically, cured sous-vide short ribs served under a beet-juice-and-Campari gel — executed by a cook who trained classically under Thomas Keller at the French Laundry before taking a leading spot in the movement to reinvent cooking. From forming beet juice into a solid sheet to cooking the ribs in a warm-water bath for 29 hours, here’s a window into an otherworldly practice that’s practically as good witnessed as tasted.
Deconstructing Alinea [Chow]