I found this article in the New York Times about women and molecular gastronomy quite interesting, especially on the heels of the whole Marcel-Top Chef-molecular food thing. It made me think for the first time how interested I am in the whole modernization of cooking products and methods.
I remember when Chef Guy at Le Cordon Bleu found out I was going to El Bulli last April. He suddenly showed great interest in me and my cooking. I found his critiques more in depth. He wanted to know which Parisian restaurants I had been to and which ones I liked. He wanted photographs of the food I had eaten in these restaurants. Even with the language barrier, he kept telling me to try to stage at El Bulli.
I found his interest flattering but a little annoying. Turns out he himself (a former contestant on the original Iron Chef) knew a lot about molecular gastronomy and thought I was interested too. On the day of our practice run for the final, he pulled me aside to show me how they make fake caviar. Needless to say, I was annoyed since I was racing against the clock, trying to cook a main and three sides for four people. I kind of half-watched him out of respect, then ran back to my station to make sure my pigeon wasn't overcooked. It was fun to watch, but I wasn't in the best frame of mind to watch it at that point.
My gut reaction? I don't think I'm that interested in that type of food. I like eating it, reading about it, and seeing what people come up with, but I like connecting with whole foods and using classic techniques to make them delicious. My preference is, like the article suggests, to provide comfort and pleasure with my food, not surprise. And I prefer to do it without special chemicals or machines.
Yes, it's true that mostly men are doing this kind of stuff, but then again, most engineers are men also. Is it a gender thing or a cultural thing? Right now, it's probably a mixture of both. I applaud women out there who are working in this field and hope to see them succeed and encourage other female chefs to do the same. Who knows, maybe in a few years I'll own some methylcellulose myself.