Tasteology – The ultimate taste experience
Two weeks ago I went through an experience that blew my mind and my taste buds. I’ve been a gourmand ever since I could eat solid food, quite picky with what I chose to have on my plate. Probably, this is the reason behind starting a cooking blog 9 years ago. The world of cooking is amazing, it opens up cultures, ideas, secrets, and connects people to a deeper level. But this world is not perfect, and with issues such as pre-cooked meals, waste, and lack of preservation, just to name a few, we need a change. AEG has launched a series of four steps required to achieve cooking results that are multisensory, sustainable, nutritional and delicious all at once. The four short episodes invite viewers on a culinary journey around the world to gain inspiration and knowledge far beyond TV cooking shows. Tasteology was based on insights from different kinds of experts, such as a psychologist, a chemist, a food waste activist and a famous Instagrammer.
The best part of my experience was to sit down for a fabulous lunch prepared by Jozef Youssef, Creative Director and Chef Patron of Kitchen Theory, among fellow food critics, bloggers, food experts. This is not all: every course was influenced by each of the four episodes, which were screened for us, in a beautiful ambience at Andaz Hotel, followed by an amazing presentation from Chef Youssef, as well as different experts in the field of food. For me, who only dreams food (when shoes are not available), it was mesmerising. I was in complete awe the whole time, and I honestly wished it never ended. Just imagine experiencing a multisensory world, where food, music, touch, smell, can intertwine beautifully. Tasteology seeks out the answers to the ultimate taste experience from new angles and expert perspectives. The ambition of the film series is to look far beyond traditional cooking programmes and to guide the viewer towards new paths in search of the ultimate taste experience.
Recipes and cooking methods may get the most attention when it comes to preparing food, but that’s only part of the picture. AEG’s mission is to look beyond this step to explore different aspects and levels of taste, as well as how to achieve its full potential. The result is a portrait of the four essential steps to better food: source, chill, heat and experience. Each episode of this documentary series is dedicated to one of these aspects, digging into culinary traditions and unconventional innovations in order to uncover the processes to achieve the perfect taste.
The first episode debuts with Tsumikasa – a Japanese word for respecting food. How does one source the best ingredients in order to take taste further? And how is taste affected by the lost nutrients of today’s mass produced food? Is it true that food cravings are our natural way of making sure that we get the nutrients our body needs? All of the questions are explored in this episode, and teach the notion of foraging, a trend that goes back to basics, respecting the ingredients’ true, original taste. The course inspired by this episode was a symphony of grilled seasonal mushrooms, foraged herbs, fossilised cassava, pumpernickel and mushroom soil.
Perfect taste starts with respect for the ingredient and the knowledge of how to handle it correctly. While the world continues to amass huge amounts of food waste, few people have discovered the key to reducing it – storage. And what’s the point in investing in good ingredients if you don’t know how to store them properly to achieve maximum taste? This episode follows the journey of British food waste activist and author, Tristram Stuart, who has devoted his life to decreasing the amount of foods being wasted. There are some other stories embedded in this episode, but I really loved the Culinary Misfits – a Berlin-based duo doing what they can to campaign against the increasing waste of fruit and vegetables that are thrown away just because they do not fit within the measures of cosmetic standards.
The inspired second dish was a deconstructed beef tartar, which took our “efforts” to mix together. It was quite fun and different!
Get to know how cooking a dish in the best conditions can take taste further, in the third episode. Using humidity in cooking is a thousand-year-old trick that spreads heat evenly and makes food more succulent and flavourful. This episode was really amazing, where we learn about the importance of precise heating in various cooking methods, the benefits of using steam or sous vide, and what it takes to create the ‘perfect egg’. The French gastro-chemist Hervé This is at the centre of important stories in Tasteology. The man who taught the world how to boil an egg in a dishwasher is a genius! Finally, we meet Catalina Vélez, one of the world’s most influential Latin-American chefs. After digging deep into traditional Columbian food culture, she discovered that steam was the main ingredient of great taste.
The dish associated with this episode was salmon cooked 4 ways: salmon sashimi cooked in acid, salmon cooked sous vide, salmon steamed, salmon pan fried, fried samphire tempura, soy pearls. To taste the same meat, but cooked different ways is extraordinary. The power of heat is tremendous!
The last episode, and my favourite right up my alley, was about how good food is more than just a good recipe. It’s about the whole experience. How much of the eating experience actually comes from taste? How do colours, sounds, the weight of cutlery and the shape of the plate affect our overall taste experience? Meet Professor of Psychology, Charles Spence, who shares his research on how the brain helps us to understand what the food is likely to taste like before actually tasting it. He also shares knowledge on how to play with surrounding influences such as sounds and colours to affect our taste experience.
For me it’s all about understanding how to compose the colours, sounds, smells and atmosphere into a complete harmonious taste experience. In order to do that I need to strike the perfect balance between science and art.- Chef Jozef Youssef
In this episode, we also meet Chef Jacques la Merde (also known as Christine Flynn), a famous chef and popular Instagrammer with over 125k followers who makes beautiful plate creations that looks like fine dining, but in reality the food comes from the nearest gas station.
The last dish was a multisensorial experience, where passion fruit chocolate ganache, chocolate & cocoa nib crumble, passion fruit and apricot sorbet was the star of the lunch. Together with music and textured cubes for tactile sense, it was one of the best gastronomical experiences I’ve had so far.
You can check the trailer below, and the four episodes here. To enjoy the complete experience, AEG’s Tasteology series invites you to explore the relationship between science, culture and society during one unforgettable experience at Taste of London, from 15 to 19th of June. The intimate feature invites you on a culinary journey around the world, sense by sense. Places are free of charge and on a first-come, first-served basis – book early at the show so you don’t miss out!