This is the
international agenda for great cooking written by Ferran Adria of El
Bulli, Heston Blumenthal of the Fat Duck, Thomas Keller of the French
Laundry and Per Se, and writer Harold McGee.
Ferran Adria Heston Blumenthal Thomas Keller Harold McGee Sunday December 10, 2006
world of food has changed a great deal in modern times. Change has come
especially fast over the last decade. Along with many other
developments, a new approach to cooking has emerged in restaurants
around the globe, including our own. We feel that this approach has
been widely misunderstood, both outside and inside our profession.
Certain aspects of it are overemphasized and sensationalized, while
others are ignored. We believe that this is an important time in the
history of cooking, and wish to clarify the principles and thoughts
that actually guide us. We hope that this statement will be useful to
all people with an interest in food, but especially to our younger
colleagues, the new generations of food professionals.
Sunday December 10, 2006
1. Three basic principles guide our cooking: excellence, openness, and integrity.
are motivated above all by an aspiration to excellence. We wish to work
with ingredients of the finest quality, and to realize the full
potential of the food we choose to prepare, whether it is a single shot
of espresso or a multicourse tasting menu.
We believe that today
and in the future, a commitment to excellence requires openness to all
resources that can help us give pleasure and meaning to people through
the medium of food. In the past, cooks and their dishes were
constrained by many factors: the limited availability of ingredients
and ways of transforming them, limited understanding of cooking
processes, and the necessarily narrow definitions and expectations
embodied in local tradition. Today there are many fewer constraints,
and tremendous potential for the progress of our craft. We can choose
from the entire planet’s ingredients, cooking methods, and traditions,
and draw on all of human knowledge, to explore what it is possible to
do with food and the experience of eating. This is not a new idea, but
a new opportunity. Nearly two centuries ago, Brillat-Savarin wrote that
‘the discovery of a new dish does more for human happiness than the
discovery of a new star."
Paramount in everything we do is integrity. Our beliefs and commitments are sincere and do not follow the latest trend.
2. Our cooking values tradition, builds on it, and along with tradition is part of the ongoing evolution of our craft.
world’s culinary traditions are collective, cumulative inventions, a
heritage created by hundreds of generations of cooks. Tradition is the
base which all cooks who aspire to excellence must know and master. Our
open approach builds on the best that tradition has to offer.
with everything in life, our craft evolves, and has done so from the
moment when man first realized the powers of fire. We embrace this
natural process of evolution and aspire to influence it. We respect our
rich history and at the same time attempt to play a small part in the
history of tomorrow.
3. We embrace innovation – new ingredients,
techniques, appliances, information, and ideas – whenever it can make a
real contribution to our cooking.
We do not pursue novelty for
its own sake. We may use modern thickeners, sugar substitutes, enzymes,
liquid nitrogen, sous-vide, dehydration, and other nontraditional
means, but these do not define our cooking. They are a few of the many
tools that we are fortunate to have available as we strive to make
delicious and stimulating dishes.
Similarly, the disciplines of
food chemistry and food technology are valuable sources of information
and ideas for all cooks. Even the most straightforward traditional
preparation can be strengthened by an understanding of its ingredients
and methods, and chemists have been helping cooks for hundreds of
years. The fashionable term "molecular gastronomy" was introduced
relatively recently, in 1992, to name a particular academic workshop
for scientists and chefs on the basic food chemistry of traditional
dishes. That workshop did not influence our approach, and the term
"molecular gastronomy" does not describe our cooking, or indeed any
style of cooking.
4. We believe that cooking can affect people in
profound ways, and that a spirit of collaboration and sharing is
essential to true progress in developing this potential.
of eating engages all the senses as well as the mind. Preparing and
serving food could therefore be the most complex and comprehensive of
the performing arts. To explore the full expressive potential of food
and cooking, we collaborate with scientists, from food chemists to
psychologists, with artisans and artists (from all walks of the
performing arts), architects, designers, industrial engineers. We also
believe in the importance of collaboration and generosity among cooks:
a readiness to share ideas and information, together with full
acknowledgment of those who invent new techniques and dishes.