John Coupland is a Professor of Food Science at Penn State. His research program is on the physical properties of foods, in particular fats and oils. He teaches undergraduate Food Chemistry and graduate level Food Chemistry and Food Physical Chemistry.
This is about that.
I contributed to this Studio 360 show on Wylie Dufense and his wonderful WD-50 restaurant in NYC. I was impressed by the thoughtful, modest approach Wylie took to his work as well as by his creativity.
Molecular gastronomy is a very specific type of food technology focused on individually prepared meals created by an expert chef with a very short “shelf life” and no real concern with nutritional value or cost (after all this is a “feast” meal - not a diet). However the practitioners are chefs with no particular scientific training. Food technologists working in the food industry use similar ingredients to make mass-produced, shelf-stable foods with an eye to nutritional value and cost. The practitioners typically have degrees in food science.
It is striking that while chefs attract celebrity status, food technologists are widely criticized as debauchers of the modern diet. Indeed Dufense flirts with the negative image of “industrial food” in the design of his restaurant and food. The name clearly has an industrial connotation and the kitchen, with shelves of “chemicals”, is clearly visible from the seating area. In contrast, industrially manufactured food often uses packaging designed to suggest a romantic ideal of nature and labels the ingredients in such a way as to make them appear less “chemical”.
(images from Studio 360 slideshow and were taken by Erin Davis)