How to Cook Like an Avant-Garde Chef

By Ratha Tep Posted May 03, 2007

In our July issue, you'll see the results of our third annual "What Chefs Know Best" poll, a survey of 100 top chefs around the country. Included in the questionnaire:  "What food trend do you want to see disappear?" Many of the chefs said molecular cuisine; Todd Gray at Equinox in Washington, D.C., even replied, "Space-age cooking à la George Jetson."

The founders of Gastrotek resoundingly disagree. Launching in about two months, Gastrotek will be the third retail company to sell the chemical powders (methylcellulose, tapioca maltodextrin and the like) beloved by avant-garde chefs. Gastrotek's Web site (up soon, at will offer video clips that demonstrate the basic uses of each chemical, and a DVD will explore more esoteric preparations beyond the now seemingly ubiquitous "caviar balls." One partner in the company (no surprise here) is the superexperimental chef Sean Brock, who's taken over the legendary Charleston, South Carolina restaurant, McCrady's. The other is more unexpected: Tyler Gray of Mikuni Wild Harvest, known for supplying wild edibles to the likes of top chefs like Thomas Keller. "I work with 700 restaurants, and I get calls every day about where to find these chemical powders," he says. "They're not going anywhere."

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