Spain to open first school of molecular cooking

Wed Dec 9, 2009 2:56pm EST
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By Arantza Goyoaga

MADRID (Reuters Life!) - Spain, where foam became a culinary art form, laid the foundation stone on Wednesday for its first scientific university for chefs, complete with a research lab to explore the mysterious chemistry of taste.

The Basque Culinary Center, designed to resemble a pile of stacked plates, will house the future University for Gastronomical Science and the Center for Gastronomical Research and Innovation.

It is due to open in San Sebastian in Spain's Basque country, a city renowned for its fine dining, in September 2011.

The university will offer a four-year degree in culinary arts, where aspiring chefs can learn techniques like those of Ferran Adria of restaurant El Bulli, known for mixing natural flavors with a gelling agent and pumping them out as foam with nitrous oxide.

To the horror of traditionalists, who say Adria's trademark dishes such as yoghurt knots and eucalyptus air raviolo would be better off staying in the laboratory, the style has spread. Other exponents include chefs such as Briton Heston Blumenthal, advocate of "molecular gastronomy."

"Not only is gastronomy an art, culture and an industry, it is a technology and a science," Science Minister Cristina Garmendia said at the building's stone-setting event.

(Reporting by Arantza Goyoaga; Writing by Tracy Rucinski; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)