Molecular Gastronomy: the rebirth of a passing fad

molecular gastronomy glutto digest

Where Can I Get It?  |  How Can I Make It?

What is molecular gastronomy? 

Molecular gastronomy is a modern style of cooking that takes social, artistic and technical elements into account.  Although formally defined in 1988, “molecular gastronomy” goes by many names (e.g. modernist cuisine, progressive cuisine, multi-sensory cooking and experimental cuisine) to avoid sounding too pretentious.  This avant-garde form of cuisine takes a scientific approach to cooking and results in creative food innovations meant to surprise and delight the senses.  Ever have a spoonful of apple-flavored foam, or bite into transparent ravioli?  These are just a couple foods made possible with this science-based method.  Some of the more popular techniques of molecular gastronomy use:

sperification molecular gastronomy
  • liquid nitrogen (e.g. dragon’s breath) or dry ice (e.g. Vegas bowl)
  • carbon dioxide bubbles (think Pop Rocks)
  • foams (to add light textures or flavor without density; e.g. cloud eggs)
  • gels (to add flavor and visual accents)
  • spherification (to make liquid-filled spheres/pearls/caviar)
  • syringes (to inject foods with unexpected flavors)
  • edible papers and inks (Edible menus anyone?)
  • anti-griddles (to flash freeze food)

Where can I get it?  

Back in the 1990s to early 2000s, dishes made in this futuristic manner could only be found in the most expensive, high-end restaurants in the world.  The global financial crisis in the late aughts (’00s) contributed to the closure of many of these restaurants.  While some of these establishments still exist, certain forms of this “mad scientist” way of cooking have been re-invigorated into more accessible types of food like liquid nitrogen ice cream and pearls to top your frozen yogurt.  Here are several places throughout the country where you can experience the magic of molecular gastronomy for yourself.

nationwide (U.S.): “popping boba” toppings at Yogurtland

molecular gastronomy spherification
photo: Yogurtland on Facebook

Chicago, IL: pretty much everything at Alinea

molecular gastronomy alinea
photo: Alinea on Facebook

Fountain Valley, CA (Orange County):
dragon’s breath at Icy Cream Roll

molecular gastronomy dragon's breath orange county california
photo: @icycreamroll on Instagram

nationwide (U.S.): liquid nitrogen ice cream at Creamistry

liquid nitrogen molecular gastronomy ice cream
photo: Creamistry on Facebook

Porland, OR: “Pop Rocks Roll” at Sushi Mazi

photo: Sushi Mazi on Facebook

Washington D.C.: everything at Minibar
& liquid nitrogen cocktails at Barmini

molecular gastronomy washington d.c. minibar barmini
photo: Barmini on Facebook

How can I make it?  

Although it can seem intimidating, it is possible to make your own meals using molecular gastronomy techniques.  Even if you’re a complete novice, all it takes to get started is this molecular gastronomy kit and some experimentation.  Have fun!

Hello! I'm Kristina

Kristina Reynolds is the Founder & CEO of Glutto and an alumna of the University of California, San Diego. She writes articles & posts for Glutto Digest with insights from fellow industry experts. Furthermore, she is the author of The Fittest Food Lovers: How EVERY BODY Can be Incredibly Fit and Still Enjoy Food, a collaborative philanthropic book with proceeds going to charities that fight world hunger.