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Dispelling Molecular, Defining Intellectual Cuisine Transcript

By Caolina Daza Carreño

Culintro-Panel Series
October 5, 2009
Chef Miguel Sanchez Romera

Culintro’s founders Stephanie Kornblum and Alina Munoz warmly welcomed all guests to the exciting Panel Series: “Dispelling Molecular, Defining Intellectual Cuisine” by Chef Miguel Sanchez Romera, and thanked the special support from the sponsors who made the event a reality. A native of Spain, Chef Miguel Sanchez Romera spoke about the simplistic secrets of his “Intellectual Cuisine” and touched upon the inspirations of his 2010 MSR Restaurant project in Lower Manhattan. With a dynamic audience at the Municipal Arts Society in New York City, Romera began his talk by explaining his vision about Haute Cuisine: “Today the world is suffering from high rates of malnutrition, both overfed and underfed; thus, it gives us the perfect opportunity to talk about cooking and fill in the enormous gap”. His passion for cooking has been the result of more than fifteen years of work in Barcelona as a neurologist and a chef.

Dispelling Molecular, Defining Intellectual
"We have been transitioning from an era of abundance to the necessity of searching for new products..."

“We have been transitioning from an era of abundance to the necessity of searching for new products” affirmed Romera, and described his cuisine as the result of best quality product, technique, and own expression. He rationalized about today’s duality between the modern and the traditional and its evolution into a “post-modern cuisine”, one that proves vague to him.

Romera touched upon his views about technology and its unnecessary use when experimenting in haute cuisine. Besides being controversial, he stated: “The best laboratories for research, evolution, and development of new techniques are in the mountains, rivers, oceans, forests, and they do not need technology to achieve the greatest flavors.” Thus, he humbly accentuated that in the haute cuisine one should represent nature in its pure state. The MSR project is the creation of countless natural inspirations by Miguel Sanchez Romera that will be drawn upon a sixty-five seating restaurant in Manhattan, a place where experimentation will be enriched by the more than one hundred and forty seven ethnicities living in the city.

Romera does not apply “molecular gastronomy” but uses artisanal techniques with relatively inexpensive ingredients. His artful dishes are created with freshly picked vegetables, herbs, and flowers full of pure flavors and aromas. Romera’s constant evolution is achieved by breaking the schemes of nature, science and arts, while flowing along his own creativity. Passionately, he quoted Salvador Dalí: “One reaches its maximum expression, when one creates an edible paint.” He explained how cooking is unique as a discipline by being tight to the emotional world and having the capacity of touching people’s five senses.

Dispelling Molecular, Defining Intellectual
“Technology has no life, and when one follows a flavor, one must follow nature...”

Glenn Coben, MRS’ architect has been working in the project for over two years and briefly gave the audience an overview about Romera’s very visual work. He stated that the MSR will be inside a hotel in Lower Manhattan with sixty-five seats, and will have a simplistic decoration inspired by many unique ambiances that L’Esguard used to have in Barcelona. These include a greenhouse and gallery, as well as other touches that epitomize Romera’s unique culinary expressions.

The Panel drove into a heated discussion between Romera and technology-driven Chef Dave Arnold at the French Culinary Institute. Their continuous discussion centered on the use of technology in haute cuisine. On the one hand, Romera strongly supported his argument about the importance of artisanal techniques to achieve the true realism of the imperfect; and on the other hand, Arnold insisted that one could use technology as a means to achieve the most delicious flavors in a product. Romera stated that a chef’s essential role in life is to teach others how to properly eat. “Technology has no life, and when one follows a flavor, one must follow nature”.

Afterwards, a couple of questions were brought by the audience, and an energetic discussion took place in which Romera explained that he is not trained with the newest technology, and that MICRI is his kitchen’s hidden essence, simply 95% water and 5% native starch tapioca mixed and boiled together. In brief he also touched upon the Japanese discovered “Umami” the human’s fifth basic sense perceived by receptor cells in the tongue; however, he carefully explained that it is not 100% scientifically accepted. The panel was a very enriching one and left many with high expectations about the MSR project: “Will New Yorkers like Chef Romera’s “Intellectual Cuisine”?

More than a passionate Chef & Food Critic, Carolina is an advocate for food initiatives aimed at caring for our bodies, while achieving environmental sustainability. Carolina writes articles when her love for a recipe reaches the high peaks of a restaurant’s ambiance, its environmental standards, and politics that affect food systems.