Hervé This: the man who unboiled an egg
February 16, 2008 2:44 AM   Subscribe

Hervé This, dubbed the "Father of Molecular Gastronomy", is also known as the man who unboiled an egg.
posted by Lush (19 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
According to the "Father" link, "If there is a father of molecular gastronomy, Kurti is he..."

And many would argue that it's actually Ferran Adriá...
posted by benzo8 at 2:56 AM on February 16, 2008

great reading, thanks :)
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 2:57 AM on February 16, 2008

Well, he's still one of the "fathers". In his paper (3rd link), he writes:
"First, I will define molecular gastronomy, because there is still much confusion in the media about the true meaning of this term, in part because of mistakes Nicholas Kurti and I made when we created the discipline in 1988."
posted by Lush at 3:08 AM on February 16, 2008

Hervé This being a star in France is maybe a bit of an overstatement. He's very enthusiastic and appears in a variety of programs, but what he explains is almost always useless to the everyday cook. His recipes are too complicated. But his books are really interesting, especially for the light they shed on common practices, like the processes involved in cooking meat. Understanding what's going on on a molecular level is really useful if you want to correct some problems encountered in your own cooking.
posted by nicolin at 3:18 AM on February 16, 2008

He gives a free monthly seminar in Paris. (via)
(Links are in french)
posted by lahersedor at 3:22 AM on February 16, 2008

Fascinating post, Lush!
posted by Dizzy at 4:14 AM on February 16, 2008

This is great. (heh)
posted by Phanx at 4:51 AM on February 16, 2008

From shit to shit, all over again ! The difference is taste !
posted by elpapacito at 6:00 AM on February 16, 2008

And 'U.S. state-side,' we have Grant Achatz at Alinea in Chicago.
posted by ericb at 6:01 AM on February 16, 2008

A related and interesting ask.mefi on molecular gastronomy.
posted by ill3 at 6:02 AM on February 16, 2008

Unboiled an egg?!?! I think he just broke my brain!!!

On a side note, I think molecular gastronomy is a missed Calling of mine. Sigh.
posted by arcticwoman at 8:12 AM on February 16, 2008

As much as I love this stuff - I plan to visit Alinea, WD-50, or another type of restaurant like that when I get some time - it's really hard to apply this sort of stuff to everyday cooking. If you just want to understand some of the basics behind everyday cookery, read On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee. As covered in Metafilter earlier, parts of the book are online.
posted by suckerpunch at 9:16 AM on February 16, 2008

I'm skeptical of the "unboiling an egg" claim.

The article, of course, gives no specific protocol on how to perform this awesome stunt. When tried in a manner that you might think, i.e. boiling an egg in the shell then soaking in a saturated solution of ascorbic acid, this is the result.

Another website gives a different account, this time with a sort of partial success. Their speculation, which I tend to agree with, is that this may be an osmotic effect and not a true reversal of protein denaturation.

Being that This seems to be a big fan of colloids, I have to wonder if he's cooking his egg in some unique way to maximize surface area.

*Adam Savage, to the Blue, paging Adam Savage to the Blue, please*
posted by Tube at 9:32 AM on February 16, 2008

does it explain anywhere why the eggs had to be added to the souffle two by two?
great stuff, thanks.
posted by mdn at 1:30 PM on February 16, 2008

Used to watch his TV show back in the '90, he was with a cook, the cook make a recipe and shows some tips that make the recipe tasty, then This came and show us why it is tasteful and what those tips do to achieve that purpose, it was kinda awesome :)
posted by zouhair at 2:18 PM on February 16, 2008


from Kitchen Mysteries:

Should yolks be added two by two, as advised by certain good cookbooks? I have no idea why it should be so, but I did have a chance to test this advice in 1980... I obtained the best results when I added the yolks two by two. The cooks seemed right, but the mystery remained (I know now that the two by two trick is no use; I probably just finally learned how to make this souffle as I was experimenting).

Sounds fishy to me.
posted by generalist at 2:49 PM on February 16, 2008

He has invented a Béarnaise sauce by replacing butter with melted chocolate

I think I just figured out what I'm going to be doing this evening.
posted by slogger at 4:00 PM on February 18, 2008

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