jeudi 29 décembre 2011

Note by Note Cuisine

From Molecular Gastronomy to its applications :
« Molecular Cuisine » (it is over)
and « Note by Note Cuisine» (don't miss this next world culinary trend!)

Hervé This

1. The scientific work

In 1988 Nicholas Kurti and I created the scientific discipline that we called « Molecular gastronomy» (remember that the word « gastronomy » means « knowledge », and not cuisine, even haute cuisine ; in the same way, Molecular Gastronomy does not stand for cooking!).
The aim of Molecular Gastronomy was, is and will be forever : looking for the mechanisms of phenomena occcuring during dish preparation and consumption.

2. An application in the kitchen

In the beginning of the 80's, we introduced also «Molecular Cuisine », whose definition is :
« Producing food (this is cuisine) using « new » tools, ingredients, methods ».

In this definition, the word « new » stands for what was not in kitchens of the western countries in 1980.
For example : siphon (to make foams), sodium alginate (to get pearls with a liquid core, spaghettis of vegetables, etc.) and other gelling agents (agar-agar, carraghenans, etc.), liquid nitrogen (to make sherbets and many other innovative preparations), rotary evaporator, and more generally, the whole set of lab's equipment when they can be useful ; another of new « method », finally, the prepration of the Chocolate Chantilly, of beaumés, gibbs, nollet, vauquelins, etc. ( Cours de gastronomie moléculaire n°1 : Science, technologie, technique (culinaires) : quelles relations ?, Ed Quae/Belin)
Of course all these items are not completely new (many gelling agents are used in Asia for millenia, and many tools are used daily in chemistry labs), but the goal was to modernize the technical component of cuisine.
Yes, the expression « Molecular Cuisine » is poorly chosen, but it had to be introduced at some time... and it is not within the Encyclopedia Britannica Dictionnaly. And Molecular Cuisine will disappear... because of... see below !

3. The next culinary trend : Note by Note Cuisine !

The next proposal is much more exciting, and its name is NOTE BY NOTE CUISINE.
It was first proposed in 1994 (in the magazine Scientific American) at a time when I was playing at using compounds in food, such as paraethylphenol in wines and whiskeys, 1-octen-3-ol in dishes, limonene, tartaric acid, ascorbic acid, etc.
The initial proposal was to improve food... but the next idea was obvious, it is to make dishes entirely from compounds.
Let's say it differently. Note by Note Cuisine is not using meat, fish, vegetable or fruits, but rater compounds, either pure compounds or mixtures, such as electronic music is not using trumpets or violins, but rather pure waves which are mixed in sounds and in music.
Here, for Note by Note Cuisine, the cook has to :  :
design the shapes of the various parts of the dish
design the colors
design the tastes
design the odors
design the temperatures
designe the trigeminal stimulation
design the consistencies
design the nutritional aspects
The feasability of this new cuisine was already shown by many meals :
first Note by Note meal (called Note by Note N°1) shown to the international press in Hong Kong by Pierre Gagnaire in April 2009
two dishes shown at the French-Japanese Scientific Meeting (JSTS) in Strasbourg, in May 2010
whole Note by Note Meal served by the chefs of the Cordon bleu School in Paris in October 2010
Note à Note meal served the 26th of January 2011, as a launching event of the International Year of Chemistry, at UNESCO, Paris, by the team of Potel&Chabot
Note by Note cocktail serve in April 2011 to 500 French chefs freshly starred at Michelin, in Espace Cardin, Paris
Note by Note Meal served in October 2011 by the team of the chefs of the Cordon bleu Schools Paris
Note by Note dishes made by chefs of the Toques Blanches International Association, in Paris, 3 Decembre 2011
Many questions arise from this new cuisine:
land development
1. humankind is facing an energy crisis : it is not sure that traditional cuisine is sustainable (it is not!)
2. the New will always beat the Old
3. cracking products from agriculture and farming is already done for milk and wheat ; why not carrots, apples, etc. ?
4. The objections made to Note by Note cuisine were done half a century ago against electronic music, and guess what you hear at the radio today ?

In other words, are not we at the equivalent of 1947, when musicians such as Varèse and some others were investigating electronic music ?

dimanche 27 novembre 2011

Useful definition

Molecular Gastronomy is the scientific discipline looking for the mechanisms of phenomena occcuring during dish preparation and consumption

mercredi 23 novembre 2011

Advanced Studies in Gastronomy


The picturial presentation of the Session 2011 of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Gastronomy (HEG) is now online on :

The participants testified for the excellent programme, and loves its diversity.

«Le format du programme, son contenu, organisation et échanges sont remarquables ».

«A truly wonderful program that exceeded all my expectations – which were high to begin with ».

« Beaucoup de connaissances acquises, découvertes insoupçonnées. Grande qualité du contenu et de l'organisation ».

« The program was excellent in the quality of lectures and various visits, and dinners »

Celebrate enlightened Gourmandise (= gastronomy)


Vive la gourmandise éclairée!


PS1. Les Cours de gastronomie moléculaire 2012 se tiendront les 30 et 31 janvier 2012, à AgroParisTech, sur le thème de la "Cuisine Note à Note".
Inscriptions sur :

A noter que les Cours 2011, sur le thème : "Explorer la cuisine. De l'expérience au calcul" sont en ligne sur

PS2. ParisTech cherche un mécène pour une Chaire xxx((nom du mécène))xxx de gastronomie moléculaire. Si d'aventure vous connaissez un mécène, je serais heureux de lui transmettre des documents expliquant ce projet enthousiasmant.

Hervé This

Chimiste, Groupe de gastronomie moléculaire
Professeur consultant AgroParisTech :
Directeur scientifique de la Fondation Science & Culture Alimentaire (Académie des sciences) :
Président du Comité Pédagogique de l'Institut des Hautes Etudes du Gout :
Chargé d'enseignements à Sciences Po Paris

Groupe de Gastronomie moléculaire AgroParisTech
Laboratoire de chimie analytique
Département Science et procédes des aliments et bioproduits (SPAB)
UMR 1145 Ingénierie Procédés Aliment GENIAL Institut des sciences et industries du vivant et de l'environnement (AgroParisTech)
16 rue Claude Bernard
75005 Paris
tel : +33 1 44 08 72 90
Courriel :
Skype : hervethis
Tweeter : @Herve_This

Un site avec une montagne d'informations sur la gastronomie moléculaire :

Un blog personnel (j'y évoque des questions intellectuelles, à propos de la science, de la technologie, de la technique, de l'art...) :

Un blog consacré à la gastronomie moléculaire, avec moins de points de vue personnels :

Le site du Laboratoire de chimie d'AgroParisTech, avec des informations complémentaires :

samedi 20 août 2011

Sorry, but I had the feeling that I should change

Sorry, but I realized that the topic of the 2012 Course on Molecular Gastronomy should change for "Note by Note Cuisine".
Indeed, in spite of all the preparative work already done on "definitions", it seems very important to help my friends to cook note by note

Vive la gourmandise éclairée!

jeudi 7 juillet 2011

Next meetings

Dear Friends
for the year 2011-2012, the meetings of the "Groupe d'étude des
précisions culinaires" will be, as most meetings of the 10 past years, at école GREGOIRE FERRANDI from 4.00 to 6.00 PM, in the amphitheater Jean Rouquié (4e floor).
These meeting happed mostly the 3rd Monday of each month, ie :

19 septembre 2011
17 octobre
21 novembre
Attention : jeudi 8 décembre
16 janvier 2012
20 février
19 mars
16 avril
21 mai
18 juin

Strange, but let's explain

I am sorry to be in a position to again explain that Note by Note Cuisine has nothing to do with Molecular Gastronomy ! However an American editor working on one of my text is writing : "I went online to get a definition of note-by-note cuisine. After reading, I still didn't know precisely what it was beyond molecular gastronomy".

Let's be clear :

Molecular Gastronomy is a scientific discipline, i.e. it produces knowledge

Note by Note cuisine is a way of cooking, ie producing food, dishes.

Is the difference clear ?

lundi 27 juin 2011

questions of politeness

Recently, the Harvard School of Applied Sciences proposed a position of a "science and cooking" professor.

Wonderful... but with two issues.

1. science and cooking: this is very imprecise ! what is to be taught and to who ? Will it be science, or cooking ? In a school training technologists (I assume), technology should be the goal, but here ?

2. there is primarily the awful name of the school : "applied sciences"! I already discussed the issue too much, and I shall not explain again why this is a mistake, and why there are no applied sciences, but only sciences, or the applications of sciences. If it is applied, it is no longer science !

I wrote to the dean of Harvard to explain the two questions... and no answer after some months. I know that he/she got the lettre. Impoliteness ?

lundi 16 mai 2011

Some information

Dear Friends

I am happy :
1. to announce that the 2012 AgroParisTech Courses of Molecular Gastronomy (two days, free, a new topic, no diploma) will be held in Paris the 30 and 31 January 2012 (amphithéâtre Tisserand).
The topic will be given soon

2. to invite you to the next meeting of the Groupe d'étude des précisions culinaires, the 3rd Monday of June (20th), at ESCF, 28 bis rue de l'abbé Grégoire, 75006 Paris, from 4.00 PM to 6.00 PM.
The topic will be :

Is it useful to add flour in the "blanc" where artichokes are cooked ?

See you there, vive la Gourmandise éclairée!!

mercredi 6 avril 2011

Back from Lebanon

Dear Friends

Back from Lebanon, I am happy to announce that some colleagues there, who are now friends, creating a Unit of Molecular Gastronomy, at the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik.

This Unit is in charge of university courses on Molecular Gastronomy( bachelor, master), but also of a scientific project, of the introduction of the Ateliers expérimentaux du goût (curriculum around science and cooking) in primary schools, and of a Seminar on Molecular Gastronomy (the first one was last week and the next is soon).

Let's be very happy with all that !

mercredi 2 mars 2011

This was added this morning

It's very interesting that the same questions arise again and again.
I stick generally to ideas, not opinions, and here is what was answered (and added in the Questions/Answers part of the site

Usually one would ask “why did you enter the profession you are in?”, however in your case I believe a more suitable question would be: As a physical chemist why did you develop a particular interest in the field you have coined ‘molecular gastronomy’?

There are indeed many reasons together.
First I love chemistry, physics and mathematics since the age of 6 years old. Then, I am also cooking since I am a child.
However, when I was a child, I was doing chemistry and physics during a large part of my free time, visiting once a week the Palais de la Découverte (science museum in Paris), so that at 12 years old, I was even invited to lecture on liquid nitrogen.
Of course, this passion for chemistry led me to enter the best "Grande Ecole" (top university) for chemistry in France (Ecole supérieure de physique et de chimie de Paris), and I should probably be an organic chemist today, but the 16th of March 1980, because of a failed cheese soufflé, I realized that there was something interesting to do, using my personal lab at home (I have indeed a wonderful lab in my house, with UV spectrometry, microscopy, etc.), i.e. collecting and testing what I am calling today "culinary precisions". This work transformed in Molecular Gastronomy when I met Nicholas Kurti and when we both, together, realized in 1988 that a particular science was needed.

As the term ‘molecular gastronomy’ has become better known over the years do you feel that people’s understanding of what molecular gastronomy is (as a field of study and development) has improved? And do you find that it is often confused with molecular cooking?

It depends on countries and on people. Yes, there is a lot of confusion between Molecular Gastronomy, molecular cooking or cookery, and such chimeras as "culinary science" or "scientific cooking". Generally, the confusion are based on the fact that people don't know what gastronomy is, what science is, and even in scientific circles, there is a confusion between science and technology, or engineering.
But I have time in life to fight all these confusions. And anyway, molecular cooking will be soon replaced by "note by note cooking", a name for which the possibility of confusion with molecular gastronomy is reduced.

How would you define molecular gastronomy versus molecular cooking?

Very simple: just hear the words! Cooking is cooking, molecular or not. And cooking means producing food. Gastronomy is knowledge. And knowledge is not food, it's knowledege.
Now the definitions :
science: most practitioners of science would be happy to accept the idea that science is the activity of looking for the mechanisms of phenomena, or trying to picture how things work, using a particular method called the “experimental method”, or “hypothetico-deductive method”, or simply the scientific method.

This methods has the following steps : (1) observing a phenomenon ; (2) characterizing quantitatively the phenomenon (and producing a lot of data) ; (3) synthesizing the data in laws ; (4) proposing theories, i.e. lists of mechanisms explaining the laws ; (5) making predictions from theories ; (6) testing experimentally the theoretical predictions, in the hope that they will be refuted, so that the theory can be improved ; (7) and go on forever with steps (2)-(6).

It can be seen from this description that science will never be “in the kitchen”, as science produces knowledge (mechanisms of phenomena), and not dishes! Hence the question: what can science and cooking have in common?

cooking : cooking was always, is, and will remain the activity of preparing dishes ; it can be a crafty activity, or an art, but dishes will be produced for human consumption.
technique: the word comes from the Greek word techne, doing. The technical activities produce results… such as dishes.
technology: this word is (or should be) clear, as its etymology is from techne, and logos, study. Technology is the activity of improving technique, with or without the results of sciences. Here, the importance of words is again great, as it would be a mistake to write that technology is an activity that uses science (instead of “the result of sciences”). Indeed, science is a separate activity, and, coming back to the first definition, only the results of sciences can be used by technologists.

applied sciences: they are as impossible as « square circles », and I am not the first who says that applied sciences cannot exist. During all his life, the biologist Louis Pasteur, well known both for scientific advances and for applications of science, fought against this expression of “applied sciences”. The idea is mainly that if they were science, then they would not be applied, and if it is meant here the application of results of sciences (rather than science itself, as we just saw that it was impossible), then they would not be sciences any longer… but technology.
chemistry: the meaning of the word « chemistry » changed in time, as for all the previous words that we considered, but here, we probably still need to go on with changes. First, is chemistry a science or technology? Considering the history of sciences, it appears that all sciences were at various degrees linked with technology in ancient times, but that slowly the separation appeared. Hence, it would be a progress that chemistry would be considered as science only, and more precisely as the science that studies the mechanisms of atom rearrangements, in molecules or in other structures made with atoms.

gastronomy: here again, there is much confusion, as many people think that gastronomy is cooking for rich, or with costly ingredients. Indeed, the word “gastronomy” was introduced in French in 1801 by the poet Joseph Berchoux8, but it was popularized by Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, a lawyer who made a wonderful masterpiece in literature, defining « gastronomy » as the reasoned knowledge concerning all aspects of food. For example, Brillat-Savarin explained that the history of cooking, for example, is gastronomy, and more precisely gastronomic history; studying the geographic distribution of culinary skills would be gastronomy, also; and literature, economy… or science can be within the frame of gastronomy. Let us finish this short discussion by saying again that gastronomy is knowledge, and that for the sake of proper thinking, we should avoid using expressions such as “gastronomic restaurant”.

art: here again, the meaning of “art” changed extensively with time, and I am not able to summarize in a few words what needed a whole book (Cooking, a quintessential art, California University Press). However, today, art is more or less an activity of creating emotions, with relationship with “beauty”. In cooking, “beautiful” means “good to eat”… but this is really too short a description for such a complicated matter. Let us only say that the aim of art is not of looking for the mechanisms of phenomena using the scientific method. The aims of science and art are different, as well as the methods… and the productions.

molecular gastronomy: it should be said vigorously that molecular gastronomy is a scientific discipline (see “science”), and that chefs do not practice (generally) molecular gastronomy!
molecular cookery: yes, molecular cookery, also called molecular cuisine, or science-based cooking, is cooking, and not science. The “definition” would be “cooking with new tools, ingredients, methods”, but “new” should be defined as “not present in classic books such as the Guide culinaire or even in La cuisine du marché by Paul Bocuse.
Of course, also, it would be silly to consider that molecular cooking (or cookery) is a question of using molecules for cooking, as all food is made of molecules… but some journalists and chefs did not take time to consider that “molecular cooking” is a composed expression, proposed only to make the distinction with molecular gastronomy. And as molecular cooking is cooking, it means producing dishes.

What are the most common misconceptions about food preparation and cooking by chefs?

I don't know.

The question is too broad.

For me as a chef, over the past few years I have seen a fast pace of technological and scientific development in many kitchens. What’s most important is the awareness by chefs towards enhancing food using these developments. What do you feel has been your most significant contribution towards the development of cooking methods used in restaurant kitchens today?

I don't care about my past contributions, and I am considering only the next ones. Note by note cooking will be soon there!

You have spent time working alongside chefs, most notably Monsieur Gagnaire, to develop the concepts you study and translate their potential application in restaurant dishes. As a physical chemist looking at a restaurant kitchen, where do you see the main developments will be in the future? For example; in the equipment used? In the way chefs work? In the recipes developed?

Note by note cooking!

And following on from the last question, what areas of the kitchen and the way they work do you think need to be developed?

Note by note cooking!

Do you believe that the discoveries made in the field of molecular gastronomy, if applied into restaurant kitchens can improve not only the food produced but also the consistency and quality of the work in the kitchen?

Yes, and this is one of the reasons why I am working so hard. I don't want money, but only the pleasure to have been able to transform the culinary practice. But it's done, indeed! Please be aware that in all French schools, children 6 years old make one cubic meter of whipped egg white from only one egg, using the educational tool that I introduced in 2002 under the name "Ateliers expérimentaux du goût" (also in Switzlerland, Finland, Denmark, Germany, UK...)

samedi 5 février 2011

The 2011 Course on Molecular Gastronomy...

... is now on the Internet site of AgroParisTech at and it si so long (two days) that it is divided in small parts.
Yes, it is all in French!
sorry, celebrate Chemistry

mercredi 2 février 2011

Some useful definitions

The right definitions :
1. Molecular Gastronomy : the science (mostly chemistry and physics) that explores the mechanisms of culinary transformations, producing knowledge (see also my article in the Encyclopedia Britannica) ; this is "philosophy of nature", or natural science ; it does not produce food!

2. Molecular Cooking, or Molecular Cuisine : a way of cooking that uses "new" tools, ingredients and methods. It was a way to propose a modernization of the culinary techniques

3. Culinary Constructivism : building dishes so that a particular effect is reached. It's again cooking

4. Note by Note cooking : it means "cooking with compounds" (and in the right idea of this, the compounds, or ingredients, should be "pure", ie of only one kind, such as sucrose, water, glucose, ethanol, tartaric acid, citric acid, etc.)

Hope that helps!