A Look Into Test Kitchens
Traditionally used by large corporations to develop new food products, test kitchens have been popping up in the restaurants of acclaimed chefs around the world. The purpose? To experiment and create new dishes in an office-type setting. The normal hustle and bustle of busy kitchens does not exist in a test environment. Instead, chefs strive to research and develop the most cutting-edge technology for food creation.
Test kitchens are a concept introduced by elBulli’s Ferran Adria, a renowned chef from Barcelona. Adria would only keep his restaurant open for half a year and use the remaining time to sit and conceptualize a new and unique menu.
“It is about separating the creative process from the productive one,” Anne McBride, professor in the Department of Nutrition at New York University told Eater.
Science and academia plays a part in many test kitchens, such as Chicago’s Moto and ING restaurants, where Chef Homaro Cantu blends gastronomy and unique ingredients for a superior dining experience. For example, ING prix fixe menus feature the miracle berry, a special ingredient that has the ability to change your palette. Never been able to eat spicy foods? When paired with miracle berry, Tabasco sauce exudes a sweet flavor. At his Moto restaurant, Cantu has discovered how to create an edible restaurant menu!
Other test kitchens around the globe focus less on technique and more on developing menus and new food items. While many restaurants will not have the resources to dedicate time and physical space for a test kitchen, the concept does produce a unique dining experience.
Noma – Denmark
Noma, an exclusive Nordic eatery in Copenhagen with two Michelin stars, recently turned the restaurant’s second floor banquet hall into a large test kitchen. What is the expansive space used for? The entire Noma staff enjoys their meals in one of the second floor areas. Additionally, there is a separate office space for meetings and brainstorming. A fresh herb garden also resides in the test kitchen.
Most test kitchens are not this expansive, but the Noma space is multi-functional. It has helped Chef Rene Redzepi create signature dishes like an edible centerpiece, crispy deer lichen, sugar sweet dehydrated carrots and a flower pot with edible dirt! The 26-course meal is revised often with newer ingredients and different presentation styles.
What are you waiting for? Set up your test kitchen anywhere in the world and continue your online cooking school classes!