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Rewriting Life

Video: The Elements of Taste

A chef in Chicago wants to blow your mind.

Technology Review presents its latest video , “The Elements of Taste.” In it, Corby Kummer , who writes about food for The Atlantic Monthly , considers how technological cooking techniques, many of them borrowed from industrial food preparation, are influencing high cuisine. The video was spurred by an assignment given out of curiosity: what would Kummer, the author of Slow Food –which explores a culinary and social movement that champions food prepared simply and life lived simply–think of chef Grant Achatz’s Chicago restaurant Alinea, the temple of high-tech food?

Chef Grant Achatz’s Hamachi

“I was all ready to hate it,” says ­Kummer, “having watched with progressive alarm chefs torment perfectly good, innocent food into whimpering submission with the pathetic excuse of forwarding the culinary arts. But eating at Alinea was as transformative for me as eating at El Bulli, the culinary madhouse north of Barcelona, is for fellow foodies. I was fascinated by what I ate, liked a lot of it, and was really seduced by a few dishes. It didn’t turn me into a complete convert–I think most American disciples of the weird, novelty-as-all El Bulli food go way overboard, and I’m not interested in dining at their lab benches, so to speak. But in the hands of someone as fiercely ambitious as Grant ­Achatz, I’m willing to put at least one foot into the future.”

Multimedia

The video also includes Achatz talking about his ultimate aim: to use food as a kind of artistic medium to give individual diners an emotional experience. “If you can get past the soy sauce on chocolate, you will enjoy it and feel a certain way. It’s a journey where your heart beats a little faster.” You can read the full story of Kummer’s experience in ” The Alchemist ” and learn more about how Achatz creates his unusual concoctions in a multimedia slide show .

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