The Aromatic Science of Food and Wine: Francois Chartier at TEDxUdeM

Uploaded by TEDxTalks on 04.05.2012

I brought a drawing, but I'm going to keep it to myself.
I'll start by explaining my molecular sommellerie harmony principle
so that everyone understands what its all about.
Its a principle for aromatic sciences of wine and food which I gave birth to --
figuratively, of course, since one does not give birth alone
and there were many people who came before me in this field--
So the principle was born in 2005, after about 20 years of reflecting
on the harmony between foods, wines, and dishes from around the world
to try and understand the link between what we drink, wine, and what we eat.
Naturally, this meant a lot of research.
So in 2005 I came with some ideas, which I will be presenting to you today.
"Approach generates the product.
If the approach is not changed,
then the same product will be produced." The message is clear.
Jimi Hendrix understood this too.
...I've always wanted to use a Jimi Hendrix slide in my presentations
All that's missing is a guitar solo-- but we can't have everything eh?
Maybe next time.
So Jimi Hendrix already understood this 40 years ago.
When he came out with "Are you experienced?",
he completely revolutionized the music universe
by changing the playing style, reflecting on his method
and by changing the techniques, instruments and instrumentation.
A complete musical revolution.
And today, 40 years after his death,
virtually all the guitar solos you hear in current rock music
are directly influenced by Jimi Hendrix.
Pretty impressive, no?
As a young sommellier-- I'm going back in time here--
at the end of the 1980s, I would take books on food and wine harmony
and I would read about classic pairings:
like Muscadet and oysters, always made to go together, a winning combination;
Roquefort and Sauternes, said to be amazing.
I have a curious mind, so even though it was great to read about it all
I wanted to taste it for myself.
And I wasn't always a fan of what I tried.
With Roquefort-Sauternes especially, the Sauternes was completely demolished:
the cheese's taste was stronger than the wine's.
Sometimes the combination worked, but not always
so I wondered, "is my mouth the problem?"
I went to see a dentist-- just kidding.
I went and saw my friends and we did some experiments,
amongst sommeliers, professionals and amateurs,
but we got the same results.
So I kept looking, kept doing experiments based on what I was being told
about classic pairings,
and came to discover that beyond a piece of meat,
beyond the bit of cheese, or of fish,
there was often an ingredient that rose above the rest,
a "linking ingredient", which creates a harmonious relationship.
In this case, its black olives and Syrah.
Here its a caribou filet; but it could have been grilled salmon filet,
or even Italian pasta sauteed with--
and now I'm making you hungry. Is it lunchtime already?--
black olives, simply sauteed with onions in a pan,
add the pasta, serve with a glass of Syrah.
Which type of Syrah? Any type will do;
and there will be a harmonious comfort zone.
I was completely surprised by this discovery
so I thought back to notion that everything is based on 5 basic flavors.
Actually, there are 4, but we will get to the 5th flavor later on
Salty foods. Everyone knows them right?
Add sodium chloride, salt, to water-- everyone can recognize the taste.
Actually, we have a semantic problem here
since there are many types of acids:
citric, malic, lactic...
So already, there's a problem in our vocabulary.
In the same way, we say "bitterness", but there are different types:
coffee bitterness, quinine;
beer bitterness, humulone--
Everybody is familiar with humulone, right?
No not really?
Well, its the molecule that gives beer both its bitterness and its flavor.
-- and so on.
Rather, sugars:
sucrose, fructose...etc.
Simply put, with these 4 flavors we have created
an incredible world gastronomical heritage,
in our vocabulary, our exchanges, but also in the way we work too.
We're going to add a 5th flavor: umami.
Umami is a flavor that was discovered in the early 20th century
by Professor Ikeda in Japan in 1909.
Basically, umami is glutamic acid:
it is responsible for presence in the mouth, the extent and spread of flavor.
and can also be found in algae such as Boo Nori.
We always thought it was only in Japan, but we also find it in Ketchup.
Ketchup is a source of umami. Why?
Because the tomatoes are cooked for a long time, become concentrated
and produce a lot of glutamic acid.
Bovril, a beef stock, is also a source of it.
In the West, we also have umami, but are only beginning to understand it.
All this to say that we built a world gastronomical heritage with all of this.
Coming back to my olives and Syrah,
I'm sure I wouldn't buy it-- I buy based on aromas.
And what are aromas?
Here they are.
You should learn them by heart.
This is 0.0000001% of all aromae present in our daily environment.
Aromas that guide us.
It could be smoke-- there's a molecule behind that called gayacol.
In science, in order to find things you have to know their names-- and you will see why.
In roses, there is some cis-rose oxyde, a little bit of geraniol
because foods are not made up of a single molecule.
Take pepper for instance.
I think there are some 340 molecules that makes up its aromatic structure.
But if you extract rotundone-- an outlandish name, in my humble opinion --
if you extract rotundone from pepper and smell it, its smells like pepper.
If you extract another molecule from pepper, like beta caryophyllene,
It smells like sawdust.
Its not uninteresting-- it does contribute to pepper's DNA heritage and to its flavors.
But rotundone is trully the main interest, because you can actually sense "pepper"
You'll see where I'm going with this.
In spices, carvone comes from carvi,
eugenol, in syzgium that is dominant.
I'm talking about the dominant molecules in an ingredient.
Knowing all this, what is the aromatic impact with respect to the 5 flavors?
When you have a cold, there is loss of the sense of smell.
Your nose is congested,
and we say that "I can't taste anything because I have a cold"
Oh really? But isn't taste in the mouth, not the nose?"
Another problem of semantics and communication.
The nose does all the work, through the retronasal passage and in through the front,
through the mouth too; and even old men can detect such things.
However, when there isn't loss of smell -- optimal olfaction--,
Yum yum!
It smells good.
This smells good-- but I'll come back to it later.
Now think back to my black olive- Syrah pairing, and remember aromatic synergy
between foods that share the same aromatic molecules we cook with.
When we are in good health, there is really a "synergetic impact"--
a hyper-powerful aromatic synergy.
The effect of the signals and olfactive stiumli are mostly felt by olfactive receptors.
So, back to the 1990s,
when I first started thinking about this, from my olive and Syrah
I moved on to Yellow wine from the Jura region.
It is a unique wine with an aroma of curry, nuts and maple syrup,
Not to mention that it is aged for 6 years in oaken barrels,
or the evaporation that occurs because the barrel isn't filled.
I could see how the process worked: a vol of yeast over top--
well, I won't go into details; but its a specific process.
But what explains the nut and maple syrup smell? What underlies it?
I'm not a scientist; I'm slowly starting to become one, but I wasn't one back then.
So I "discovered"-- a big word in scientific literature-- a molecule called "sotolon".
This molecule is responsible for the Yellow wine's aroma.
Sotolon. And I had found it.
I kept searching over the years that followed-- early, mid 2000s, 2005-2006
and I discovered that sotolon is also present in roasted fenugreek,
in soya sauce, in sake, in our maple syrup, in old Sauternes, in Hungarian Tokayasu,
in old rums...
Wow. Makes me a bit dizzy just knowing this.
Maybe its the same for you, I hope.
So this means that a foie gras could go with a curry and maple syrup sauce
which I created empirically; my nose led me to this pairing in the 1990s
when I had no scientific knowledge whatsoever
I would smell Yellow wine and say: "Okay, we'll make a dish curry and maple syrup
because the drink smells like curry and maple syrup.
2 "discoveries" at the same time, the dish,
fostering a synergy between maple syrup and curry
and the pairing was greater than the sum of each component.
Then we serve the Yellow wine...
and its a complete buccal orgasm.
That's another thing I've always wanted to slip into my presentations.
The 2nd round of research started in 2005.
I went to see scientists, presented my idea
Since the 1990s, I had noticed that anytime fresh almonds were served
with a Sauvignon blanc-- Eureka. It was a winning pair.
It didn't matter if the Sauvignon was from Chile, Sancerre, Pouilly fumé,
or if it was small, cheap, tall, or expensive. The pairing worked every time.
So I do some research on almonds and Sauvignon blanc
and I discover that they share aromatic molecules-- volatile compounds, aromas
belonging to the Aniseed family
aromas with an aniseed taste.
I keep searching and find the same molecules in basilica, in chervil,
in tarragon, in fennel... and so on, and so forth.
Lets put wine aside for a second.
You may have already figured this out
It means that if I cook root vegetables-- artichokes, carrots, parsnips, knob celery--
and sautee them in a pan with almonds,
or with a chervil- or tarragon-based oil,
I have created a synergy: they share molecules from the same aromatic family.
I have made my cooking more complexe.
I have ensured that "the mayonnaise will turn out well".
And by "mayonnaise", I didn't mean actual mayonnaise...You got that, right?
Once we have this scientific background knowledge about what goes on,
we can go back and understand what makes classic pairings successful.
The Lebanese created a tabouleh with fresh persil and mint.
Maybe it took 10s, or even 100s of years before they were able to conclude that
Fresh mint + persil = Bang! Eureka! Delicious!
Now I can explain it: persil and fresh mint are from the same aromatic family
there's an aromatic synergy between the two.
I can serve it with any Sauvignon blanc
-- I've been doing it since the early 1980s, and it works like a charm every time.
But I can also change my tabouleh
by substituting mint or persil for basilica or tarragon,
modifying the recipes we know, all the while staying in an aroma comfort zone
and not playing too much with people's cultures...
I think you get my drift.
We can go on like this for hours.
I'm going to talk to you about saffron.
Saffron, "Queen of spices", has a countless number of aromatic molecules
[Roasted octopus] but only 7 or 8 dominant molecules
which lets us make great "aromatic maps", like the ones you just saw.
What you are seeing here is a live map.
octopus belongs to the same family as saffron,
as is pimenton, something like a paprika from Spain,
lavender, golden raisins, black tea-- all belong to the same aromatic family
[pink grapefruit]
So we can create a recipe using any pairings from this family
If you don't like octopus-- I can see some nods in the audience
[mini candied tomatoes]
[Smoked black tea] You can add watermelon to the mix
Make a tomato and watermelon salad in the spring,
with a pink grapefruit and olive oil vinaigrette, add a bit of paprika or pimenton,
and there you have it.
These findings are available for everyone to discover and use.
If you are thirsty but don't drink alcohol,
you can make a mushroom milk with lavender
done here with an "air of lavender" and using a chef's technique.
If you want to drink beer, grab a pale ale.
It belongs to the same aromatic family as saffron.
Yes, I know; wine is in style, so you'd rather drink that.
So drink a Riesling:
it has a very close relationship with saffron and all its family members.
As you can see, this story can go on forever.
[Octopus in almond tempura]
I should probably start wrapping this up.
Shiva, Indian goddess with many arms.
Something you might not know about her,
is that she used her many arms to juggle curry, soy sauce, rum,
Sauternes, maple syrup. That's all she did with her arms.
As I explained earlier, fenugreek seeds and maple syrup are closely linked
because they share the same molecule, sotolon
And how does sotolon appear? With fire.
It is possible to have some fun with all this.
So go buy some roasted fenugreek seeds--
they are produced by fenugreek, an Indian herb--
put the seeds in a dry frying pan,
and your entire kitchen will smell like maple syrup.
Sotolon in fenugreek is so potent that when roasted, it smells like maple syrup
which is also born out of fire.
That was the extent of my fire image.
Understanding this, you can have fun modifying foods like Cracker Jack.
What is Cracker Jack? Its caramel.
Caramel popcorn can be created using maple syrup or curry.
We can turn our national Whippet
into an almond and curry Whippet with roasted almonds, all from the same family,
and add white chocolate.
... I guess the picture is a bit suggestive eh?
Let's take a serious tone for a bit and talk about the 2nd World War.
Sometimes, inspiration arises when least expected.
A while back, I discovered that pork meat and coconut
are from the same aromatic family, the lactons.
I do some reading and find information about it done by molecular biology PhDs.
During the 2nd World War, there was a shortage of serums to heal wounded soldiers
so they used cocunut water, which contains the same electrolyte as human blood.
In my crazy head, it goes
coconut, coconut water, human blood, pork meat and cocunut-- still making sense?--
pork meat and coconut are closely linked;
so I figured pork blood and black pudding could be paired.
And with my accomplice, Stéphane Moda, a great chef I've been working with for 3 years,
we created a black pudding and coconut sauce.
I searched in gastronomic literature, and couldn't find a black pudding and coconut recipe.
It wasn't a question of originality, it was science speaking to me:
"My boy, you have to combine these foods"
I'm joking of course, but you see where I'm going with this.
Its extraordinary: we understand what we have been doing forever
but we can also go beyond. And that is interesting.
That's when creativity sets in.
I have 48 seconds left; I won't finish but I'll get to the end.
I had the great pleasure of being called up by people at El Bulli, in Spain,
great chefs, creative restaurant laboratories, etc,
Ferran Adrià worked with Nori algae to try and turn them into pasta products.
And I told him, raspberries and violets are in the same aromatic family.
So he created a temaki, a sushi, garnished with raspberry puree and violet water,
which was served at El Bulli.
Raspberry and Nori.
On your way home, buy some raspberries, some Nori algae,
wrap the algae around the fruit and eat it like a candy.
Its amazing.
That said, I came back home asking myself a bunch of questions.
I wanted to create something from this that could go with Syrah wine
because Syrah wine belongs to the same aromatic family.
Pepper, black olives and coffee also belong to the same family;
so we created a sushi to go with red wine,
made with Nori algae, wild rice, black olive purée, pepper...voilà!
There you have it: the beauty of molecules and aromatic science.
So have fun! Its the only message I'd like to pass on to you.
It was a pleasure, thank you.