This is a very interesting and immense topic which I am not sure if I can do justice in only 1 story, but I will at least open the topic which I am sure I will continue at a later date.
One of the strongest points of Progressive Cuisine is that it is very precise, this allows us to understand exactly what happens and When. Being a Head Chef it also gives you the advantage of being able to consistently maintain your standards. When passing over a new dish to your more junior Chefs it is important that you leave nothing unmeasured and nothing for them to make there own mind up about. When you are dealing with Humans you will always have errors as each one of us will interpret the same request in a different way, this is why we put in place measures. In Cuisine these days everything is measured and correct to the Second, Millimetre, 0.01 of a Gram and 0.1 of a Degree.
This may sound a little absurd but take into consideration that it is a Chefs task these days to really understand food and it’s limitations in order to get the best result. Take the picture above as an example (sorry it is so bad), this is 2 terrines of what I call “Choco-Gras Aero” which is a mix of Chocolate and Foie Gras fat which I make into a Aerated Chocolate terrine which melts away to nothing in your mouth. This is a technique involving many techniques, and if just one of them is slightly wrong it will not work. Let me help you to really understand:
- If the chocolate and Foie Gras are not the exact same temperature – IT WILL SPLIT!
- If the Siphon is not tempered, THE MIX WILL NOT COME OUT!
- If it is not shaken enough in between charges, BUBBLES INCONSISTENT
- If not charged and extracted within 2 minutes, IT WILL BE TOO COLD
- If the mix comes out below 37.4, IT WILL NOT SHINE, THE BUBBLES WILL BE SMALL AND IT WILL MELT IN YOUR FINGERS
- If the mix comes out hotter than 38 degrees, IT WILL NOT HOLD THE AIR LONG ENOUGH TO SET.
- If the quantity is not enough for the terrine, THE WALLS OF THE BUBBLES WILL BE TOO FRAGILE AND IT WILL COLLAPSE WHEN PRESSURE IS RETURNED.
- If the Marble plate has not been chilled sufficiently by the liquid nitrogen, IT WILL COLLAPSE AS IT IS SETTING
- If the terrine is one the marble too long before the vacuum has started, THE BASE WILL SET FIRM WICH YOU WILL HAVE TO CUT OFF AND YOU WILL LOOSE VOLUME.
So I guess you can see the point! In the picture the terrine on the right was prepared by a colleague and it was only half a degree more which he did not seem to think was a problem, as you can see it was! The terrine rose then immediately fell as the air was escaping from the fragile bubbles. Just think that this is not the most complicated thing that we do. But always remember……….. “THERE IS A TECHNIQUE FOR EVERYTHING”, think about everything in life and you will find from brushing your teeth to washing your car there is a particular way that you must do the things.
So I wholeheartedly refute the claims from the Chefs who say that by cooking with precise measures and utilizing science you will loose the passion and feel for food. Taste is a personal thing which is confusing when you have a brigade of up to 20 Chefs, you do not want to be tasting 20 different interpretations on how each dish should be.