Spain’s El Bulli restaurant has been nothing short of Mecca for food writers and a huge posse of trendistas intent on sampling a new cuisine that involves infusions of pure flavor essences.The food fusion movement has been called the inevitable merging of fine dining and science.
Now, the internationally respected Restaurant Magazine, an industry publication read by anyone who counts, has named the Fat Duck, in Bray, England as the “Best Restaurant in the World”. This is probably the single greatest honor a restaurant can ever earn.
Bray, a rather typical English village not far from London, is a great Oceanfront dining presided over by the new star in the restaurant galaxy, Heston Blumenthal.
The Fat Duck is merging chemistry and cooking, with alarmingly satisfactory results. Who would have, for instance, imagined snail porridge, Or a puree made of Douglas fir and Mango?
Blumenthal works with flavor and creative fragrance companies. He maintains glass cylinders of stored flavors in his own personal laboratory.
This new wave of cooking has a name. In fact it has several. Bluementhal has been called a molecular gastronomist..Some call the new approach to food Culinology.
In New York, famed Chef David Burke has been profiled in Lexus Magazine. He has been experimenting in his lab to create flavor sprays and serves unexpected treats such as salmon lollipops in his hot restaurant, David Burke and Donatella. Burke expects that we will soon see an earthquake-size tilt in the way that cocktails are served in restaurants. Individual flavor sprays and infusions will create millions of flavor options and drinkers will have the opportunity to create their own.
Then there’s Chicago’s Grant Achatz. His new restaurant, Alinea in Lincoln Park, has quickly become the city’s hottest ticket. Foodies from all over the country are flying to Chicago to sample his Dungenmess crab served on a puree of coconut, cashew, and parsnip flavorings. Even sponge cake comes infused with a wonderful vanilla bean flavor as it rests on a bed of sour cherries.
From Spain – to England – New York – to Chicago, the world’s top restaurants have one thing in common. They are creating an entire new world order of flavor pairings and infusions. And, I believe, what they are creating in their flavor labs, will influence every future generation of fine dining addicts.
This is not a trend. It is a revolution, making possible tastes, smells, and textures, that were previously unavailable to the dining public.