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Adria unveils food of tomorrow

El Bulli's chef Ferran Adria shows off his latest invention, but not everyone is impressed.

by: Gilles Campion: AFP | 30 Mar 2009

Spanish chef Ferran Adria, the father of so-called molecular gastronomy, has always been ahead of his time and this week he was the undisputed star of the Tokyo Taste "world summit of gastronomy".

Around 20 of the world's top chefs converged on the Japanese capital for the summit, organised by the Hattori culinary school, which drew massive crowds of Japanese foodies.

The Spaniard showed off his latest creation; a machine that can for the first time make a caviar egg with olive oil inside.

The chef at El Bulli near Barcelona, dubbed by Britain's Restaurant magazine as the world's greatest table, pioneered molecular gastronomy which delves into the science behind the food.

Adria's other creations include powdered foie gras, a caramel made of Modena vinegar and a Chinese-style preserved egg with a liquid yolk.

In a technique he calls "spherification," Adria uses a gelling agent to create foods that combine different textures or temperatures.

He also presented the "caviar egg" machine designed in his laboratory. Using the contraption and some drops of olive oil, he produced small eggs which are solid on the teeth but have a soft interior like caviar.

He said that such inventions should not be seen as science fiction, adding that he could not believe his eyes when in 1992 he saw his first induction cooktop, which heats the pot rather than the plate for more efficient cooking.

But not everyone is convinced.
Another top Spanish chef, Santi Santamaria, caused a stir recently by saying Adria "fills up plates with gelling agents and emulsifiers from the laboratory" which could pose a "public health problem".

The use of additives is strictly controlled in the food industry but not in restaurants.

French chef Pierre Gagnaire gave credit to Adria but said the media should not "obsess" over his techniques.

"This is the new 'new cuisine' and it's going to lead to major things. But if this becomes too intellectual, it will get unbearable."

But Juan Mari Arzak, whose restaurant in Spain's Basque country has earned the Michelin guide's coveted three stars, rose to Adria's defence.

"You should leave Ferran alone," he said. "He's a genius. He has the greatest imagination that cuisine has ever or will ever see.

"One ought to watch what he does and see what you can take from it for yourself."

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