episode 33 :: molecular

episode 33 :: molecular

After attending the long-anticipated Molecular Gastronomy class at Sur La Table in Los Angeles, taught by Michael Young, Executive Chef of Domenico Ristorante I came back feeling super-charged, inspired, and with a far clearer understanding than I anticipated I’d leave with.

The question became “Are you a craftsman, or are you an artist?” Not an easy question to answer. I’d like to think I’m a little of both, but I really can’t be sure.

Download Episode 33

In this episode:
• Molecular Gastronomy Class recap
• An Oscar Watch party not to be forgotten
• Afaf, my new friend who opened my eyes to the wonderful food of Syria
• Top Chef Season 5 Recap, complete with audio and spoilers (go home, Casey)
• BREAKING NEWS: Albert Adria leaves El Bulli
• Coming on MLaaF, something to either turn your head, or your stomach

Hey, I started a molecular cookbook! Download recipes from this episode here, and start making your own molecular treats at home. (recipes courtesy of Chef Michael Young)

Also, Jo from My Last Bite took a ton of pictures at the class, so we made a slideshow. Enjoy:

[vimeo 3397416]

Le Sanctuaire
My Last Bite
Alinea at Home
Sur La Table

Special thanks to Jo, Peter, and Cody for an exceptional day full of food and adventure, and to my new friends Afaf and Ray for bringing the world of Syrian Cuisine to the forefront of my mind.

So my final question to all of you is this: Are you an artist, or a craftsman?

15 thoughts on “episode 33 :: molecular

  1. It’s our Honor and great pleasure to meet you & Katrina and to be a part of your talk show. We are extremely pleased that you and Katrina enjoyed the Arabic dishes that I made!
    Cheers to our new friends Phil & Katrina!

  2. Jo and Afaf, thanks so much for everything. It’s been one hell of a great week. I can still taste every bite, and the molecular class was one to remember.

    Cheers to our new friendships.

  3. Your long show entertained me on the boring drive to see my granddaughter this afternoon. Would beer work? Blind Pig Caviar sounds yummy. Beer links are gone from your site but we love you anyway.


  4. Fascinating show, Phil. This is something I would never try in my life, but it’s interesting to hear how excited you were to do it and how easy you make it sound to actually create. The preciseness of the measurements would drive me crazy. I do like the fact that you stressed freshness of ingredients and that these are all proteinless dishes, which appeals to vegans and vegetarians.

    Great slideshow too.


  5. JeffreyT, thanks for listening, as always. Glad I could be there in the car with you on your long drive. The Good Beer Show has more than gotten me home from work on more than one occasion as well, so I know the feeling. 🙂

    Sorry about the beer links. I’m trying to re-organize everything right now, and I’m playing with the idea of moving the show in a direction without beer, concentrating only on food, food issues, and food culture. After the “drunk show” with Don, I thought I’d move away from drinking on the show for a while. It was quite embarrassing for me that we got that loose, but it was fun getting there! 😀

    Dave, thank you for your comments as well. I totally understand where you’re coming from. It’s not for everyone, but it is one more way to spruce up your vegetarian lifestyle. You can only do so much with vegetables, fruit, and cheese. To take them out of their natural form and do something like this with them is fun and different. And yes, fresh is best – always! Never forget that. Regardless of how strange we get with chemistry, or technique, it’s always about the food. That’s the bottom line here.

  6. Phil,

    As the District Manager for Sur La Table in Southern Cal, I have to say I absolutely love your blog, not only for the publicity on our Farmer’s Market store, but also because, as a new resident to LA, I’m glad to see there are people as passionate as you are about food culture in LA. I’ve gotten a lot of great info from your blog, and the links to other blogs, that will help me get to know my new city, and I hope to find out that LA has as much to offer as big foodie cities such as San Francisco, Seattle, and Portland.

    If you have any feedback for our store, or if we can support you and your blog in any way, please let me know.

  7. Yo Phil, great episode – I’m also really digging the slide show, well done! Keep on cookin’…

  8. Mary and Matt, thank you both for your comments. It means a lot that you’re listening, and that you enjoyed the content. Sur La Table should be commended for making courses like this available to the home cook. Without hands on laboratory classes in Molecular Gastronomy like this, we’re left to what few video clips we see online, and recipes in books. Nothing replaces the hands-on knowledge that we received that day from Chef Michael Young.

    Thanks again!

  9. Was so exciting to hear you speak of the wonderful food of Syria. We have travelled quite a bit, and my favorite food was in a restaurant that served some of the best Middle Eastern food where a simple order of scrambled eggs brought something between an omlette and a souffle, and the small bakery near Martyr Square with the most wonderful cookies ever experienced. I recall the saffron potatoes. I wonder how they were made.

  10. Loved this show from start to finish, Phil. It sounds like quite an opportunity to learn so many new things to do with food. And it appears you were in good company as well.

    What about 1/2 chef and 1/2 scientist? Sorry, I don’t think that it is possible. Being a chef is full time if you want to be good, and being a scientist is full time.

    On the other hand, I don’t deny that there are some people trained in knowing the results of science, and able to contribute to cooking. One of my former colleagues created a company for that (probably Le Sanctuaire is an equivalent).

    Always this confusion between molecular cooking and molecular gastronomy. I could see how this confusion is slowing the technical progress of cooking : the “cutting edge techniques” that are sometimes shown (rotary evaporator, ice concentration, liquid nitrogen) were proposed more than 30 years ago! Instead, if one looks to what science is producing, then a lot of much more advanced ideas can come.


  11. Hey Phil, great show. Really enjoyed listening to some of the audio from the class too.

    The problem with the term “Molecular Gastronomy” is that it is linked to the fact that Gastronomy is commonly defined as encompassing the knowledge and techniques involved in cooking. Traditionally related to the table, it is quite difficult for the majority of people to see Molecular Gastronomy as only the science behind all this.

    Even though I believe that a distinction is due, I do not know how “easy” or better feasible, this shift in conception would be. It could be nice to start thinking at “molecular gastronomy units” as a duo of scientist + chef so that there won’t be any need for a shift in understanding and using of the terms.

    Loved your recap of Top Chef too, Phil. It was a bit of a let down, but still a fun show to watch.

    Take Care,


  12. Molecular Gastronomy is a trip. Sounds like fun, Phil.

    The French Laundry is regarded by food critics as disputing with El Bulli in Spain for the best restaurant in the world. I have never eaten there and the food is doubtless richer than my cardiologist would approve. I don’t think I will ever eat there since spending that much on a meal seems almost obscene and I don’t have a concierge credit card or a secretary to make reservations for me.

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