on molecular gastronomy

Last Friday, I attended a South Beach Wine and Food Festival event launching the Biltmore Culinary Academy, a new cooking school where ordinary people can take professional quality cooking classes from the acclaimed chefs of this historic Gables hotel (CulinaryAcademy@BiltmoreHotel.com or phone: 305-445-1926.)   It was not the event at which orange-Croc’d chef Mario Batali dropped the f-bomb TWICE in the presence of Spanish royalty, but interesting nonetheless. 

Culinary Conversation: The Relationship between Spanish Chefs and Scientists featured a panel discussion on molecular gastronomy with Daniel Garcia (a chef that claims to have first incorporated liquid nitrogen into cooking in Spain,)Katsuya Fukushima (Culinary Director of ThinkFoodGroup, the management company for José Andrés restaurants,) Ruben Garcia  (Director of Research & Development of ThinkFoodGroup,) Harold McGee (author of On Food & Cooking and the Curious Cook column for the New York Times, considered an authority on the science of cooking) and moderator Josh Ozersky (Restaurants Editor for Citysearch and seen helping Anthony Bourdain inhale impressive amounts of meat, even for him, on this past Monday’s No Reservations on the Travel Channel.)  

The big take away?  It’s not about conducting science experiments with food, although it often feels that way.  Like when a panel member demonstrated how to make olive oil popcorn, an icy snack made with tomato water in a cauldron full of cryogenic liquid.  But what the generationally diverse panel unanimously agreed on is that it is about what all great cooking is about: letting the ingredients speak for themselves.  It’s just that they are showcased in a not previously attempted and clearer, if not more deliberate, way.   

Now, once you’ve digested that, the good news is that you can sample this daring fare without emptying whatever is left of your savings on a ticket to Spain (although that may not be such a bad idea.)  There are local joints practicing this culinary hoodoo.  Inside Neomi’s, Miami’s Trump International Beach Resort main dining room, Executive Chef Kurtis Jantz and Chef de Cuisine (and food blogger,) Chad Galiano, have developed what amounts to an experimental test kitchen restaurant within a restaurant, called Paradigm.  Restaurants with multiple personalities is an emerging trend that I’ve noticed cropping up with heavy hitters like Tom Colicchio at Tom: Tuesday Dinner at Craft in New York City, as well as the José Andrés concept Mini Bar at Cafe Atlantico in D.C.  Paradigm is only “open” once a week (Tom’s is only every other Tuesday, with the master himself behind the stove,) usually Fridays at 7:00 p.m., serving whimsical fare from a prixe fixe dining menu.  I plan to take a dip into their chemical romance at next week’s performance.

Paradigm at Neomi’s Grill

18001 Collins Ave (between 178th and 183rd)

Sunny Isles, FL 33160





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