Chef Wylie Dufresne Likes to Play With His Food

Chef Wylie Dufresne believes in playing with his food—but not in the usual sense of the phrase. In his popular New York restaurant, wd-50, Dufresne applies molecular gastronomy, a field of science that studies the chemistry behind cooking, to create new and unfamiliar dishes.

In his Big Think interview, Dufresne explains the oft-misunderstood field of molecular gastronomy. It isn't just experimentation for experimentation's sake, he says: knowing about food chemistry will make anybody a better cook. "Knowing mechanically how to poach an egg, but not what’s happening to it while it’s poaching is almost an empty knowledge.  It’s not as useful as knowing that the egg white proteins are coagulating at this temperature and the yolks are coagulating at that temperature, and so I can control this or that."

Dufresne also says that thanks to this scientific inquiry, we've learned more about cooking in the last 15 years than we have in the 15,000 years prior to that, including debunking a popular myth about steaks: "One of the famous misconceptions for years has been that searing a piece of steak, for instance, seals in the juices; that’s how you keep your steak moist, by searing it on the outside, trapping the juices inside.  That was proven to be a fallacy by molecular gastronomy because in fact, anytime you get something super hot, you actually begin to draw the moisture out of it rather than seal it in."

He also weighs in on the great foam debate in cooking, saying that foam has gotten a bad rap. "Engaging something in a new way, whether it be vinegar or butter or a flavor, but carrying it in a new form, is often very exciting to me." He also tells us that the "farm to table" movement is "like smoke and mirrors for the diner." All good restaurants should be using good ingredients without needing to scream that fact from the top of a soap box.  

Finally, Dufresne tells us that Scandinavia is the next big culinary hot spot. "They're introducing us, the culinary world, to a whole new group of ingredients that we are unfamiliar with. They're exposing us to a an approach, to a style of cooking, that has been around for a long time, but we're seeing it come back into vogue."

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

What’s behind our appetite for self-destruction?

Is it "perverseness," the "death drive," or something else?

Photo by Brad Neathery on Unsplash
Mind & Brain

Each new year, people vow to put an end to self-destructive habits like smoking, overeating or overspending.

Keep reading Show less

Can the keto diet help treat depression? Here’s what the science says so far

A growing body of research shows promising signs that the keto diet might be able to improve mental health.

Photo: Public Domain
Mind & Brain
  • The keto diet is known to be an effective tool for weight loss, however its effects on mental health remain largely unclear.
  • Recent studies suggests that the keto diet might be an effective tool for treating depression, and clearing up so-called "brain fog," though scientists caution more research is necessary before it can be recommended as a treatment.
  • Any experiments with the keto diet are best done in conjunction with a doctor, considering some people face problems when transitioning to the low-carb diet.
Keep reading Show less

Douglas Rushkoff – It’s not the technology’s fault

It's up to us humans to re-humanize our world. An economy that prioritizes growth and profits over humanity has led to digital platforms that "strip the topsoil" of human behavior, whole industries, and the planet, giving less and less back. And only we can save us.

Think Again Podcasts
  • It's an all-hands-on-deck moment in the arc of civilization.
  • Everyone has a choice: Do you want to try to earn enough money to insulate yourself from the world you're creating— or do you want to make the world a place you don't have to insulate yourself from?
Keep reading Show less