French chef Pierre Gagnaire served up the world’s first “synthetic gourmet dish” in a restaurant in Hong Kong’s Mandarin Oriental hotel today. The meal began with an apple-lemon flavored appetizer—jelly balls made of a “combination of ascorbic acid, glucose, citric acid and a few grams of 4-O-a-glucopyranosyl-D-sorbitol, a sugar substitute otherwise known as maltitol.” The main dish, lobster fricassee, surely sounds yummy—the chef even described the entrée as “smooth, crusty and frosty.” But the ingredients resemble a laundry list of chemicals you’re likely to find with a “Mr. Yuck” sticker. To top it off, the “lobster” was flavored in a special sauce made from tartaric acid, glucose, and polyphenols.
For months, Gagnaire worked with the French chemist Harvé This—the co-founder of molecular gastronomy—to concoct this allegedly tasty, unnatural meal from scratch. Chemist-turned-chef This sees the potential for this new way of creating and cooking vegetable substitutes molecule-by-molecule as a way to end world hunger. Instead of buying veggies from the grocery store, chefs could instead mix together caroteniods, pectins, fructose, and glucuronic acid to whip up a carrot (esque) dish.
The idea is solid, but what about the nutritional value of vegetables your mom probably nagged about?
Perhaps we can get all the nutrition we need from these synthetic veggies, just so long as they’re packed with essential vitamins in the same way foods like boxed cereal are. But what about other essentials, like synthetic chocolate?
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