On The Table Ep. 11 :: Wylie Dufresne Joins Eric Ripert

Wylie Dufresne joins Eric Ripert to demonstrate a whole new style of cooking with his poached egg consommé, as well as a summer Rhubarb cocktail on the side. They discuss why Dufresne became a chef, what motivated him to innovate using the science of cooking, and how he found creative inspiration.

FIrst and foremost, I’d like to just throw out there how good of a channel, The Reserve Channel, is, on youtube. I got hip to them a long time ago looking at one of the episodes when they first started out last year that showed Tom Collichio out fishing with Eddie Huang. I was “Hooked” on the channel after that episode….

Now, this show with Eric Ripert, has probably become my favorite show on the channel. There are a couple of reasons for that, but most notably, it is probably because his accent is just sooooooo incredible. Plus, he seems like one of the happiest guys in the world. Plus, he is really fucking good at cooking. We’ve seen really good cooks come in his space and cook some really good stuff but this is the first time we’ve seen a molecular gastronomist put in work. Obviously Wylie didn’t pull out all the stops on this one, but he did talk about a few gems and bring a consommé that he did some magic on. The dish turned out quite delicious looking and got me to thinking about some random stuff.

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One of the things it brought up in my mind was the portion sizes that we are served when we go to a top flight restaurant… and the other was what can I learn about ‘food science’ and apply it to what I am trying to do here in this space.

Lets start with, what is molecular gastronomy:

Molecular gastronomy is a subdiscipline of food science that seeks to investigate, explain and make practical use of the physical and chemical transformations of ingredients that occur while cooking, as well as the social, artistic and technical components of culinary and gastronomic phenomena in general. Molecular gastronomy is a modern style of cooking, which is practiced by both scientists and food professionals in many professional kitchens and labs and takes advantage of many technical innovations from the scientific disciplines.

I’ve long since thought about portion sizes, and why the hell, they are so small when you are spending a lot of money on food at really good restaurants and I came up with a few things. For one, good food is expensive. Not necessarily the fact that you are paying the rent of the building that they are in and the address, or the fact that they usually have waaay too many staffers on to give the appearance of perfect service, or the fact that you are paying for the name of the man or woman on the building….. I think quality ingredients, and great equipment IS what makes food expensive. There is an argument that can be made for paying for the knowledge and effort of someone who is one of the better people at doing their jobs.

The other thing is portion size… and I think that food science actually plays a big part in that and a lot of chefs actually didnt even know what they were doing, but molecular gastronomy has a lot to do with balance and taste and aesthetics and maybe the flare of doing ‘it.’ I think on a lot of levels, there is something to be said that in the entirety of a meal, there are certain amounts of each part of the meal that you are supposed to eat, right? Wouldnt that make sense, it does to me at least…

I think what I am saying to myself, is not necessarily that I will take on something like food science or anything even close to that, but I think the chemistry of what I am eating, the composition of it, and achieving a balance in everything that I eat, is something that I can take away from this…