Molecular gastronomy: a food fad or science supporting innovative cuisine?

César Vega, Job Ubbink

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


The concepts, history and approaches of molecular gastronomy are discussed with an emphasis on the relation to food science and technology. A distinction is made between molecular gastronomy and science-based cooking, where the first relates to the scientific understanding of the cooking and eating processes and the latter refers to the application of the principles and tools from science for the development of new dishes, particularly in the context of haute cuisine. We argue that science-based cooking is closely associated with significant technological developments, as the realization of novel dishes frequently requires the use of non-traditional ingredients or preparation techniques, which are often derived from those used in industrial food production. Several approaches towards the scientific understanding of foods are highlighted, including the complex disperse system (CDS) formalism of This and the systematic compilation and interpretation of scientific and non-scientific information relating to foods, their ingredients and preparation methods as shaped into its modern form by McGee. We discuss how chefs are dealing with the available systematic knowledge on food and cooking, and how molecular gastronomy can facilitate the cumbersome, but much needed discussions among food scientists and chefs. Finally, we discuss the implications of molecular gastronomy for society. This includes the way the general public is considering food, and how molecular gastronomy could inspire food technologists to increasingly emphasize aspects relating to food origin, quality, and creativity in their product development efforts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)372-382
Number of pages11
JournalTrends in Food Science and Technology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2008
Externally publishedYes


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