Herve This on Why Note-by-Note Cooking Is Good for the Future of Food

“Thanks to note-by-note cooking, we have a whole new slew of cooking possibilities in front of us as well as new consistencies, new odors, new tastes, and new flavors.”—Hervé This

Herve This, Note-by-Note CookingThe following is a post by Hervé This, author of Note-by-Note Cooking: The Future of Food. (For more on the book, you can also read an excerpt or an interview with Hervé This):

Fittingly, Columbia University Press added “the future of food” on the cover of my new book since note-by-note cooking is truly the future of food and more and more chefs are exploring and employing its techniques in their cooking.

If you look to the current developments of culinary art, you don’t see much novelty except note-by-note cooking. Wild plants? The eminent French chef Michel Michel Bras has been cooking them for decades. Molecular cooking? Even if you call it “science-based cooking”, or “modernist cooking”, or “techno-emotional cooking” (what is this need to give more names when one was already given?), that was proposed as early as the 1980’s!

Yes, there is no newer proposal for culinary art than note-by-note cooking, and we are living a very exciting time. Thanks to note-by-note cooking, we have a whole new slew of cooking possibilities in front of us as well as new consistencies, new odors, new tastes, and new flavors.

But I know that chefs need a clearer sense of what note-by-note cooking is, as do farmers, and this is why I wrote Note-by-Note Cooking: The Future of Food. For the chefs as well as home cooks, the key issue is to understand what the “coumpounds” are, and how to use them. Having lectured extensively for chefs, I now know how to explain note-by-note cooking to them but I also know that the main difficulty is convincing them that note-by-note cooking is even possible. This is why we have to get slowly accustomed to the idea, by conducting tests, doing experiments, and reading what others did.

For farmers there is also the possibility of enriching agriculture in a sustainable way. It will take some thinking but new technologies for making note-by-note products needs to be explored further. However, the initial signs are very encouraging and some farmers are testing these techniques and adding value to their products. More generally, I am excited to see that more and more people, in a variety of different circles understand why the note-by-note project is so important for the future. From policymakers and farmers to chefs and at-home cooks, we now have to work, collectively, on the various aspects of this project.

Of course, there are fears, and I am aware that these days a large proportion of the public, in all countries, want “safe” food, speaking sometimes of “natural food.” We have to fight these fears, and we have the duty to say that there is no “natural food,” as “natural” means “what was not processed by human beings.” Indeed, for a long time our food ingredients are not truly natural as the selection and breeding of plants and animals have been shaped by human intervention. After all, don’t we speak of “culinary art”?

Speaking of art, I should add that developing new methods and approaches does not mean trashing the old. Before Mozart, the music lover had Bach, but after Mozart, they had Bach and Mozart. With more and more different styles, we have more and more choice, which contributes to the pleasure of life. If note-by-note is to be the food of the future, play on!

Leave a Reply