By Gloria Hong

It’s wasn’t long ago when no one had even heard of molecular gastronomy. By now we’ve all seen some liquid nitrogen ice cream being whipped up on the Food Channel.
Or are you thinking…molecular gastro-what? Well according to this site, molecular gastronomy or molecular cuisine is the science of cooking but it is commonly used to describe a new style of cuisine in which chefs explore new culinary possibilities in the kitchen by embracing sensory and food science, borrowing tools from the science lab and ingredients from the food industry and concocting surprise after surprise for their diners.

Yes, it’s SCIENTIFIC COOKERY! Sound yummy? Well I love idea of using scientific methods to enhance the taste of food, and I don’t mean through artificial flavor enhancers or preservatives.

But those gifted chefs who push the scientific boundaries of food, who experiment with textures, flavours and states of matter, are really trying to create an overall eating experience for you.

Consider this recent offering from the always inventive chefs at Alinea:

Yes, it’s an “apple” balloon. But if it’s just the “apple” part you’re taking away from this, maybe this experience isn’t for you.

No one will argue there is a very niche market for “beetroot merengue puffs filled with olive oil foam” and “cigar smoke ice cream”. Considering a night out a restaurant that does molecular gastronomy best will cost you about a week’s grocery bill, it isn’t (and shouldn’t) be up everyone’s ally. I’ve heard some argue that this isn’t even food. That’s their opinion.

For me, I would gladly try an apple balloon. It’s fun and so very different from anything I could ever think of on my own. I think molecular gastronomy celebrates creativity and imagination, which is great to me in food and beyond!

In these challenging economic times, when people are eating out less, there are these great chefs who are selling you not only dinner, but an entire experience. Where other gimmicks have been less than successful, molecular gastronomy seems to have hit the experiential notes of fun and special – and added value worthy of the price tag.

I would challenge you to think about what your brand is doing add value for your customers. Hopefully something even better than apple balloons!