With kind permission by the Dean and Chapter of York Minster

With kind permission by the Dean and Chapter of York Minster

Did You Know…

…that Science and Pleasure Are Not Mutually Exclusive?

In recent years, molecular gastronomy has changed our understanding of cooking and dining like almost no other trend before it. This discipline is concerned with the biochemical and physiochemical processes involved in food preparation. Typically, it involves transforming the characteristics and textures of basic materials with the aid of lab procedures and additives. Molecular gastronomy marries science with the craft of cooking to form a “culinary science.”

The field of optics plays a special role in the art of molecular gastronomy. Photo designer Thorsten kleine Holthaus has been focusing on this imaging potential for some time now and has experimentally photographed dishes of avant-garde cuisine. This work gave him inspiration for his illustrated book, “MESSIER 102 – Food Inspired by Science,” featuring creations by celebrity chef René Bastian Stein. For this project, kleine Holthaus used imagery that brings the influences of natural scientific discoveries to the art of cooking, thereby making the observer more familiar with the esthetics of molecular gastronomy.

“Since many processes in today’s avant-garde cuisine have been scientifically examined, some of them even being observed under the microscope, the obvious next step was to photograph the individual ingredients of the dishes under the microscope,” kleine Holthaus explains. To achieve this, he resorted to the Axio Scope.A1 microscope from ZEISS. "As the microscope photographs show, the beauty lies both in what is visible as well as what is invisible,” says kleine Holthaus of the results.

Molecular gastronomy techniques such as inversion and deconstruction are brought to bear on the photography, layout, and dramaturgy of the book. Another nod to science can be found in the book’s design: inspiration for it came from the catalog of French astronomer Charles Messier from the 18th century, which served as the starting point for the systematic exploration of galaxies and other astronomical phenomena. This extraordinary volume by kleine Holthaus, which he also submitted to the University of Dortmund as his final thesis, not only impressed his examination committee, but was honored with the “red dot design award” as well. Through his work, kleine Holthaus has shown that science and pleasure are certainly not mutually exclusive, but rather can be combined in surprising and beautiful ways. 


20 March 2012