French Culinary Institute launches culinary technology program

The French Culinary Institute (FCI) launched its Culinary Technology program, with the start of its “Magic Potions: Transglutaminase” class. Spearheaded by Dave Arnold, the school’s Director of Culinary Technology, and vice president of Culinary Arts Chef Nils Norén, the program was created in recognition of the increasingly important role that a thorough understanding of science and technology plays in the taste, texture and economies of food preparation.

The French Culinary Institute has for 23 years been the champion of classical techniques and traditions, and the goal of the FCI’s technology program is to augment this tradition by schooling chefs and serious amateur students in all of the best techniques developed around the world – whether they be traditional or not.

A key component to the school’s technology program is a series of lectures that Harold McGee — an expert on the application of science to the principles of cuisine — will offer via a lecture and demonstration format. McGee will teach chefs how to use the scientific method in the kitchen to become better cooks.

Courses being offered include those on techniques such as sous vide (the practice of cooking food in vacuum-packed bags) and low-temperature cooking. Others teach the use of non-traditional ingredients such as transglutaminase. Also known as “meat glue,” transglutaminase is a versatile enzyme that allows for the fusion of disparate food elements to each other. A practical application of this in the kitchen is the binding of different-sized cuts of salmon together, which allows the chef to produce consistently-sized portions. A class on the use of hydrocolloids, which are natural extracts used as thickening, gelling and stabilizing agents in innovative ways, will give students the ability to transform flavors into textures of their choice, such as a “fluid gels” (a gel with a liquid or creamy texture).

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