Posts Tagged ‘Peter Barham’

The Flemish Primitives: A travel report (part 1)

Friday, January 9th, 2009

I had a wonderful trip to Brugge/Bruges to attend the foodpairing seminar The Flemish Primitives. I got to meet many interesting people including Heston Blumenthal, Peter Barham, Andrew Dornenburg, Karen Page, Ben Roche and Tony Conigliaro to mention a few. I also finally had the opportunity to talk to my fellow Swedish food bloggers Lisa Förare Winbladh (Matälskaren, Swedish only but Google can translate) and Malin Sandström (Matmolekyler, Swedish only but Google can translate) who’ve recently been awarded money to write a Swedish book about molecular gastronomy for home cooks. I even talked to several people who read Khymos! It’s always nice when I can attach some faces to the crowd out there in the big, unpersonal blogosphere.

As you see from this long post the day was packed and believe it or not – there will be a couple more posts in the next few days. One on the surprise “chocolate box” (for me this was the highlight), a summary of the interview with Heston Blumenthal and some info on the chemistry behind the glowing lollipops! I’ll also try do dig up the recipe for the chocolate dip that came with our lunch fries.

A Christmas wish list

Tuesday, December 16th, 2008

The avalanche of books in the food/science intersection this fall has been truly amazing. Three books in particular have showcased special restaurants: el Bulli, Alinea and The Fat Duck.

Food pairing seminar update

Friday, November 7th, 2008

The food pairing seminar is named “The Flemish Primitives” after the 15th and 16th century artists who were combining talent with new techniques.

I’ve blogged about the upcoming food pairing seminar in Belgium on January 5th previously, but there are a couple of important additions to the programme: Albert Adrià (El Bulli, Spain) and Ben Roche (Moto, USA) will also participate. Given the extensive list of other chefs and notabilities within the realms of molecular gastronomy and science inspired cooking that will be present, this is definitely the place to be on January 5th. Registering is online, and the early bid registration fee is €245 (rises to €295 from November 16th). More information is available from the website (also in html format).

Ten tips for practical molecular gastronomy, part 7

Monday, August 27th, 2007

Click here for full size image

7. Question authorities and learn from the experts

A thick, nicely bound cook book with marvelous pictures and a professional layout signals quality and authority. But unfortunately the nice wrapping is no guarantee that the contents is scientifically sound. I would guess that the searing/sealing myth and adding salt to water used to boil vegetables are among the most ubiquitious of the myths. The challenge for everyone is to question the procedures and explanations given in cook books and those that are inherited from your parents and grand parents. Most of them are fine, but some are not. In fact Hervé This has collected more than 20.000 so called “precisions” from French culinary books that he wants to test.

My seventh tip for pursuing molecular gastronomy in your very own kitchen is to question the cook book authorities, but also to learn from the experts in the field. The site Khymos originally started out as a listing of books and web pages that could be useful for anyone interested in molecular gastronomy and popular food science. When giving presentations it was more convenient for me to refer to a webpage than to have people taking notes of all the references. My own collection of books is constantly growing as you can see from the picture (I justed crossed the 100 cm mark), and I am more than happy to share with you my favorite books. Most of what I know about food chemistry and molecular gastronomy is from these books.


Molecular gastronomy should of course never become a theoretical practice only, so remember that “the proof is in the pudding”, as Nicholas Kurti, one of the pioneers of molecular gastronomy often said. Let taste guide your cooking and learn how to conduct simple blind tastings (more on that in part 8). If possible, do an experiment: if there are two or more procedures, follow them and compare the end result.

Despite the many books and articles that have appeared on food chemistry and molecular gastronomy there are still many questions that remain unanswered. Scientifically, molecular gastronomy is tremendously complex. The science of deliciousness lies in the cross section of analytical, biological, inorganic, organic, physical, polymer and surface chemistry. But even though describing and understanding what happes is difficult, everyone is able to judge the end result! This is quite intriguing and because of this it is possible to become an excellent cook – even if you don’t understand the chemistry behind in every detail. This makes me confident that there will always be an “art” and a “love” component in cooking, as Hervé This puts it in his definition of molecular gastronomy.


Check out my previous blogpost for an overview of the 10 tips for practical molecular gastronomy series. The collection of books (favorite, molecular gastronomy, aroma/taste, reference/technique, food chemistry, presentation/photography) and links (webresources, people/chefs/blogs, institutions, articles, audio/video) at might also be of interest.

Upcoming molecular gastornomy events

Monday, January 22nd, 2007

Here’s some of the upcoming molecular gastronomy events. The field is really exploding and this list is far from complete. Feel free to add other events in the comments section.

  • The Euro Food Chem XIV takes place in Paris from August 29th to 31st 2007. One of the topics is “Molecular Gastronomy: objectives, development, international collaboration” and a discussion will be lead by Hervé This and J. Ventenas Barroso on the 1st day of the congress in the afternoon.
  • On Friday March 16th, 2007 there will be a seminar in Belgium (a follow up to their last seminar) entitled “A world of Pinot Noir”. It’s a co-organized by food for design and the The Contemporary Flemish Wine Institute.
  • On Wednesday March 26th, 2007 Peter Barham talks about “Molecular Gastronomy: What is it and Why Should a Physicist Care?” at a physics colloquim at Washington University in St. Louis.
  • Not to forget, there is also the monthly INRA seminar (new + old page) in Paris (third Thursday of every month, from 4-6 pm). The reports from each seminar can be found here (last addition is from October 2005 though).
  • On April 10th, 2007, Hervé This will speak at The New York Academy of Sciences. He will discuss “how a scientific understanding of the chemical processes of cooking and the physiology of flavor can inform the culinary experience at various levels”. BTW, you can take a look at Hervé This’ complete conference itinery here.
  • Videos from MG seminar in Belgium

    Thursday, January 11th, 2007

    Videos from the MG seminar in Belgium held on November 20th last year have generously been made available for free on the net. There are four videos to watch: presentations by Prof. Peter Barham (‘Molecular Gastronomy? The science of taste and flavour’) and Prof. Jorge Ruiz (‘Methods in the kitchen: the science behind’) plus demonstrations by Kobe Desramault and Sang Hoon Degeimbre.

    Also, Bernard Lahousse (who is in charge of food for design and a co-organizer of the MG smeinar) has let me know that the next seminar will be held on March 16th with the title “A world of Pinot noir” – focus is on wine, but with live MG demos. Stay tuned!