Science has found a way into almost every aspect of daily life and is now starting to become a part of food in the form of molecular gastronomy.
Molecular gastronomy can be described as a type of food science that focuses upon both the physical and chemical reactions taking place during cooking.
Trek Kryger, head chef at Weber State University through Sodexo, has recently returned to WSU and is hoping to share his interest of molecular gastronomy with others.
“Molecular gastronomy is kind of new age,” Kryger said. “A lot of chefs don’t like calling it that.”
Kryger said a lot of people have an aversion to molecular gastronomy because they have misconceptions about what it means.
“It’s just putting a bit of science into food,” Kryger said.
Kryger said that he began by experimenting with foods and different cooking methods about four years ago.
“I bought myself one of the molecular gastronomy kits,” Kryger said.
On his fourth day back at WSU, having previously worked as a temporary employee, Kryger hosted a demonstration on molecular gastronomy in the Shepherd Union and prepared chocolate air and other foods for students to try.
“The demonstration will hopefully show people what we do as chefs,” Kryger said, “and what cooking really is all about.”
Kryger used a binder, soy lecithin, to prepare the chocolate air. According to Kryger, the lecithin acts as an emulsifier, which helps with the thickening process.
The recipe was made up of only three ingredients: soy lecithin, chocolate and water.
Kryger first combined water and chocolate and heated them. He then transferred them to a bowl, added soy lecithin and blended them together.
The air bubbles rose to the top and were able to be scooped off with a spoon into a separate container and then frozen. The result was a light, fluffy-looking chocolate that dissolved instantly in the mouth.
“These binders can take simple foods like chocolate and give them a different texture and flavor,” Kryger said, “all because of this one certain ingredient.”
Robin Harris, retail manager for Sodexo, said she is excited to have Kryger here at WSU.
“It’s really amazing what it does to the food,” Harris said of molecular gastronomy. “It’s just very cool.”
Kryger said he plans on teaching and working with Weber and the company in order to share what he knows about food.
In catering, Kryger said, they hope to be playing around more with the molecular gastronomy and creating different menu options.
For dessert on Friday in the Wildcat Room, Kryger said strawberry spheres, which were filled with juice, were served as part of the dessert. The spheres resemble caviar.
Kryger said the spheres were made using a technique called reverse spherification, which involves baths of sodium alginate and calcium chloride.
Ryan Larson, a marketing intern for Sodexo, said molecular gastronomy goes beyond WSU campus and is hosted through Sodexo at all their campus locations.
“It’s pretty cool,” Larson said. “Anything that illustrates what our chefs and cooks do everyday goes a long way in building a relationship between us and the students.”
Kryger said that he does not have a favorite food to cook, but he does have a favorite type of food: Mediterranean.
” I like to create anything imaginable,” Kryger said. “It’s all about building flavors, not hiding flavors.”
Currently Sodexo is doing a giveaway for students. The prizes will consist of the chemicals that Kryger used during his demonstration.
To find out more about molecular gastronomy and the upcoming giveaway, check out Sodexo on Facebook.