The Malta Independent 14 July 2024, Sunday
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When Science and gastronomy mix

Malta Independent Saturday, 21 April 2007, 00:00 Last update: about 11 years ago

An unusual two-day kitchen chemistry workshop was organised at Le Méridien St Julian’s for over 30 chefs from Malta’s leading five-star hotels at Starwood Hotels and Resorts, Malta. The purpose of the workshop was to help the kitchen brigades of Le Méridien Phoenicia, Le Méridien St Julian’s and the Westin Dragonara Resort understand the latest unique techniques of culinary excellence, combining classical cooking with the science of food.

Kitchen chemistry is a concept espoused by some of the leading chefs in the world including Heston Blumenthal, owner/head chef at the Fat Duck Restaurant in Bray UK, which has been voted the number two restaurant in the world. Leading the workshop were Prof. Tony Blake from BBC’s Food Lab and Alan Parker, both of whom are chemistry/culinary advisors to Heston Blumenthal and have appeared on the Discovery Science Channel in that role.

The aim was to demonstrate a “how to” interactive workshop, allowing the participants to see, feel and taste the results, while also understanding the scientific techniques and use of speciality equipment and ingredients in the kitchen. The workshop helped the chefs to understand the perception of flavour through image and texture and how to use it to explore novel food concepts, including why unexpected flavours combine.

Ultimately, the chefs had the opportunity to see and taste the preparation of some of the most unique dishes developed by a variety of the best restaurants in the world, including smoked salmon ice cream, fresh tomato noodles and coffee caviar.

The three executive chefs, Victor Borg at Le Méridien Phoenicia, Andy Gaskin at Le Méridien St Julian’s and John Hornsby at the Westin Dragonara attended the workshop along with their teams.

Also on the team of presenters were: Vicky Endersen, who is the in-house experimental chef and culinary advisor for MSK-Ingredients UK. She is a pastry specialist having spent the past 10 years as head pastry chef for several Michelin starred restaurants, and Simon Aquilina, who is known to many local chefs.

Since leaving Malta, Simon has worked in Michelin star restaurants in the UK. He has been involved with universities in the UK, developing and incorporating scientific techniques into cooking. He is currently at Danesfield House Hotel in Marlow, England.

During his stay in Malta, Professor Blake also gave a lecture at the University of Malta entitled “The Learning of Human Flavour Preference”. The University of Malta very kindly provided much of the scientific equipment for use in the workshop held in the Banqueting Kitchen at Le Méridien St Julian’s. Special thanks are due to Prof. Vella, Head of Chemistry Department and Prof Robert Borg Chemistry Department. Additional Laboratory equipment was also very kindly provided by laboratory equipment suppliers Orme (Mr Joe Borg) and Levo Labs (Mr Joe Vella).

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