Fusion Science: Sang-hoon Degeimbre

Chef Sang-Hoon DegeimbreMore often than not, for great ideas to spice up your own culinary offerings, turning to the experts not only saves time, but in the end gives us all a better understanding of the art of preparing food. Fusion, being first and foremost about new gastronomic experiences, combinations, and newness, has its own set of “heroes” – if we can call them that. One such figure is South Korean born Sang-hoon Degeimbre,  L’Air du Temps’ in Belgium twin Michelin starred molecular genius.

Molecular gastronomy is to fusion cuisine, as sodium is the seawater, separating pairings of foods from the chemical compositions therein being an exercise in futility, really. For masters such as Degeimbre, chemistry and cooking are fundamental to one another. But, where he and other chefs excel at Fusion creations is in the mating of chemistry (molecular) with techniques such as ike jime, a Japanese method of kill that helps preserve fresh fish. Where regimen or method improves the chemical boundaries of culinary art, the “timing” and nature of materials is essential to refined results. In short, understanding the nature of foods, their interactions (chemically and mechanically) leads to better tasting and more healthy, even more interesting dishes.

Courtesy L'Air du Temps Belgium

All this is a bit far “around the barn” so to speak, in suggesting that some of the best dishes ever are the result of a good deal of research and experimentation. We all know this really, intuitively. It is clear to see Michelin stars like Sang-hoon Degeimbre, have as their foundations, volumes if not libraries of data on the subjects of Fusion cuisine and other regimens. This interview with The Sydney Morning Herald bespeaks of the good chef’s own favorite studies, namely Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking
– according to the article, Degeimbre’s personal selection.

Looking at articles about this fabulous practitioner, it’s easy to detect the scientist in the man, as well as to differentiate the artist and creator. While Degeimbre certainly seems intent on dissecting the essence of flavor in ever morsel, even creating his own garden of “pigments” for making sure of the best balance of ingredients – the master chef is also a visionary who goes beyond a purist, a recent technology breakthrough of his, according to Entre Chefs, the “ultrasound mixer” is designed to bring forth and enable, to unlock special characteristics of foods, of ingredients. Now if this is not the cutting edge of cookery.

Your perfection has arrived at L'air du temps

For those of you out there saying; “Forget about it, I don’t have the time,” it is precisely innovators like Degeimbre that afford us all the time, and the luxury of emulating their styles. As one example of “fused” components, the great chef’s own Oyster and kiwi combination, on his own menu, is part and parcel a result of culinary rocket science. Would you ever think of this combination of elements? Not likely.

So it is that Fusion cooking is not simply about combinations of ingredients, even recipes from about the globe, nor is the style or regiment just a melting pot of traditions, and so on. At the Michelin end of this genre of cooking resides the scientific cutting edge of discovery – the experimental blending of not just foodstuffs, but more importantly ideas of the best ways, new and fascinating ways, to not only create dinner, but to enjoy it too. Where Wolfgang Puck’s Chinois restaurant experiment begins, Sang-hoon Degeimbre’s L’ Air du Temps restaurant, and his upcoming eatery carries forward a modern culinary quest – the new culinary perfection.

We leave you with video of Degeimbre explaining the use of his ultrasonic mixer for extracting essences. In the case below, ultrasonic shrimp stock. For an added investigative journey into fusion cuisine, the reader may want to check out Moorish Fusion Cuisine: Conquering the New World.

We would like to especially thank L’air du temps and their Facebook for the wonderful images above. Be sure and visit Sang-hoon there too.