Note-by-Note Cooking

The Future of Food

Hervé This. Translated by Malcolm DeBevoise

Columbia University Press

Note-by-Note Cooking

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Pub Date: December 2016

ISBN: 9780231164870

272 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $16.95£14.95

Pub Date: October 2014

ISBN: 9780231164863

272 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $24.95£19.95

Pub Date: October 2014

ISBN: 9780231538237

272 Pages

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List Price: $15.99£14.00

Note-by-Note Cooking

The Future of Food

Hervé This. Translated by Malcolm DeBevoise

Columbia University Press

Note-by-Note Cooking is a landmark in the annals of gastronomy, liberating cooks from the constraints of traditional ingredients and methods through the use of pure molecular compounds. 1-Octen-3-ol, which has a scent of wild mushrooms; limonene, a colorless liquid hydrocarbon that has the smell of citrus; sotolon, whose fragrance at high concentrations resembles curry and at low concentrations, maple syrup or sugar; tyrosine, an odorless but flavorful amino acid present in cheese—these and many other substances, some occurring in nature, some synthesized in the laboratory, make it possible to create novel tastes and flavors in the same way that elementary sound waves can be combined to create new sounds.

Note-by-note cooking promises to add unadulterated nutritional value to dishes of all kinds, actually improving upon the health benefits of so-called natural foods. Cooking with molecular compounds will be far more energy efficient and environmentally sustainable than traditional techniques of cooking. This new way of thinking about food heralds a phase of culinary evolution on which the long-term survival of a growing human population depends. Hervé This clearly explains the properties of naturally occurring and synthesized compounds, dispels a host of misconceptions about the place of chemistry in cooking, and shows why note-by-note cooking is an obvious—and inevitable—extension of his earlier pioneering work in molecular gastronomy. An appendix contains a representative selection of recipes, vividly illustrated in color.

If anyone is going to change the way we cook, it will be him.

Heston Blumenthal, as quoted in the Observer

Taking kitchen science to a whole new (molecular) level, Hervé This is changing the way France—and the world—cooks.


Once again, Hervé This makes a compelling case for the science of deliciousness with his latest book, breaking ingredients down into their constituent compounds. Sometimes controversial yet always thought-provoking, such 'note by note' deconstructing of dishes in the pursuit of flavor challenges culinary convention—food for thought on the future of cooking, of interest to both professional chefs and home cooks alike.

Michael Laiskonis, creative director of the Institute of Culinary Education

No matter what level home cook or professional chef you are, Hervé This's detailed, scientific approach to the kitchen provides a fascinating perspective on the chemistry of cooking. These notes are useful for chefs and cooks of all levels and an entertaining and practical guide that every chef would benefit from reading.

Chef Daniel Boulud

This... explores the science behind shape, consistency, odor and color, giving readers the knowledge to create their own magnum opus in the kitchen.


Keen cooks…will devour the latest work by molecular gastronomist Hervé This.

New Scientist

This writes the way he speaks – with subtle irony, whim and humour, and each of his books, apart from being scientifically revealing, is an almost taste-able and invariably delicious literary delight.

Engineering and Technology


Chemistry World

Valuable for readers interested in how the food system may evolve in the future.

A Note on the Translation
Tables, Figures, and Color Plates
Introduction: Why the Need for Note-by-Note Cooking Should Be Obvious
1. Shape
Nonpolyhedral Solids
The Fable of the Man with the Golden Brain
2. Consistency
A Woeful Misunderstanding
The Relation Between Consistency and Flavor
Not Everything Has to Be Soft
Thinking in Physical Terms
Contrasting Consistencies
3. Taste
Misdirection and Misperception
The Impossible Description of Unknown Tastes
Sapid Compounds
Mineral Salts
Organic and Mineral Acids
Amino Acids and Their Derivatives
Alcohols and Polyols
Intense Sweeteners
Flavoring Agents
Matrix Effects
A New Basic Taste
4. Odor
Manipulating Odorant Compounds
Methods of Extraction and Processing
Natural, Same as Natural, Artificial
Volatility, Threshold Perception, Toxic Risk
A Lexicon of Basic Culinary Odors
Odorant Compounds
On the Properties of Odorigenic Extracts and Compositions
Trigeminal Sensations
5. Color
The Eye Precedes the Palate
Legally Approved Coloring Agents
Natural Versus Artificial Redux
6. Artistic Choice and Culinary Nomenclature
Substance and Form
The Construction of Flavors
Naming Dishes
The First Generation of Note-by-Note Menus
7. Nutrition, Toxicology, Market Dynamics, Public Interest
The Mixed Blessings of Abundance
A World of Plenty, Filled with Danger
Selection and Supply of Compounds
Political Considerations
Appendix: A Few Recipes

Read an excerpt from the introduction, "Why the Need for Note-by-Note Cooking Should be Obvious":

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About the Author

Hervé This is a physical chemist on the staff of the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique in Paris and scientific director of the Fondation Science & Culture Alimentaire at the Académie des Sciences. His translated works include The Science of the Oven; Building a Meal: From Molecular Gastronomy to Culinary Constructivism; Kitchen Mysteries: Revealing the Science of Cooking; and Molecular Gastronomy: Exploring the Science of Flavor, all published by Columbia University Press.

M. B. DeBevoise has translated more than thirty works from French and Italian in every branch of scholarship.