Molecular gastronomy and functional food

Molecular gastronomy and functional food

In the world today, new, different and unusual combinations of food, prepared using innovative culinary-scientific techniques are gaining more and more popularity. This new trend in cooking is called molecular gastronomy, an application of scientific principles in creating a meal.

Molecular gastronomy

When cooking meets science, a completely new and revolutionary culinary trend is created that has lately become the means of expression for many master chefs and has captivated those who are willing to try something new and unusual.

According to authors Ottenbacher and Harrington, kitchens have been turned into laboratories, where magic happens using liquid nitrogen, deionized water, helium, calcium compounds, homogenization, lasers and syringes, all being – chemical constructs aiming at changing the structure of food ingredients.

Number of courses is different

There are some differences between standard restaurants and those practicing molecular gastronomy. A standard restaurant has a strict hierarchy in organization (head chef, sous-chef, pastry chef, etc.) while molecular gastronomy restaurants have no hierarchy but instead a free exchange of ideas among kitchen staff.
Number of courses is also different. Molecular gastronomy meal offers up to 30-40 courses, while a standard meal usually consists of four (appetizer, soup, main course and dessert). Servings are of course smaller, presentation creative, minimalistic and can also be prepared in front of the customer, explaining the process. Also, these restaurants do not offer menus.

Five-hour long meals

A meal lasts longer, sometimes more than five hours, but is served only once a day. Number of employees in a standard restaurant is 12-30 or up to 40 including both shifts, but a molecular gastronomy restaurant employs 55 chefs who prepare meals for 55 guests in one shift.
As much as molecular gastronomy is innovative and advanced, questions are raised such as how it could satisfy those with large appetites, could we spend such a long time having just one meal and how we could prepare it without expert knowledge.

Functional food

Functional food is a modern concept in nutrition since it contains ingredients that have a positive effect on our bodies, generally contribute to better health and/or reduce risks from certain diseases. Consumers constantly demand food that is not only tasty but healthy as well.
There are several types of functional food; it can be conventional food with biologically active components or it can be fortified so that is reduces risks of certain diseases in risk groups. This food can be processed to improve metabolism, learning capacities, reduce high blood pressure or cholesterol, etc.

Functional food on the menu = a more rounded customer service

Roggers feels that restaurants and other types of food services can be good promoters of such food since they are regularly visited. There are many functional ingredients that can be added to regular food such as herbal bioactives, antioxidants, dietary fibers, probiotics and prebiotics, functional starch and lipids and other dietary supplements. Sufficiently innovative manager can include them in a restaurant offer.

Having a functional menu is one of the directions a restaurant can go in, with an aim to provide a more rounded customer service as well as to improve its image.