College students from Pont-Audemer try their hand at molecular cuisine

The pupils of the Relais class and behind from left to right Jean-Philippe Demare and Florent Renoux, pastry chef of the Petits Gateaux in Pont-Audemer. ©MCD

Every year the Pierre and Marie Curie College of Audemer Bridge (Eure), welcomes 8 to 12 young people in dropout for various reasons (school phobia, behavior, illness, etc.) from 3rd and 4th grade classes, from 13 different colleges in the region. The Class “Relay” is a system that has existed since 1995 and is divided into two 12-week sessions per year. Its purpose is to restore the confidence of these young people in difficulty and to direct them towards an appropriate orientation so that they rediscover the taste for learning and the desire to return to school or an apprenticeship center. . Thursday, June 16, 2022, the young people presented, with their internship supervisor, the fruit of their work to the other students of the college.

Mix of cooking and science

“This year, during the 2nd session which took place from February to May, every Tuesday, a group of 8 young people were taken care of, at the “Les Petits Gateaux” pastry shop, where Florent Renouxowner of the premises, insiders to the Molecular gastronomy and helped to make a specific dessert”, we inform Jean-Philippe DemareRelay class coordinator.

Molecular cuisine is a blend of culinary art and science. Appearing in the 80s, this style of cooking was designed by two scientists inflamed by the art of gastronomy: doctor Nicholas Kurtis and doctor chemist Hervé This. He thus combines aesthetics, chemical techniques and flavors. To begin in molecular cuisine, it is essential to bring specific ingredients such as powders, gelling agents, thickeners, emulsifiers… But also equipment worthy of a doctor: syringes, capsules, tubes…

This cuisine, as magical as it is fascinating, is based on 3 main types of transformation: emulsion, spherification and gelation. The emulsion consists of mixing two immiscible liquids, for example oil and water. The purpose of spherification is to modify the texture and appearance of a food, generally changing from liquid to another texture. Gelation consists of modifying a product to bring it closer to the consistency of a gel. In addition to these three techniques, it is also possible to use thickening or dehydration.

These techniques make it possible to destructure food and to obtain, for example, spaghetti powders, hazy cocktails, gelatinous steaks or mousses in different forms. And precisely, Florent Renoux explains:

We have worked on several desserts such as cookies, lemon pie and meringues, but today we have prepared a specific dessert, the strawberry, accompanied by a spherification of basil which consists of pouring a small drop composed of water , sugar and agar-agar (gelling agent made from seaweed), flavored with basil in an oil that has been frozen beforehand. The thermal shock transforms the droplets into small balls, which will bring an original touch to the presentation of strawberries and a particular flavor.

2 students move towards the kitchen

The sale of these original pastries was intended for teachers and parents of student trainees.

I enjoyed passing on my experience to these young people who were judged and motivated. It was a first experience for me, which was rather positive since it seemed that some of them had decided to join a cooking course next year.

Florent Renoux

Indeed, Jean-Philippe Demare announces: “Of the 8 trainees, 2 will enter cooking school next year. Mathis who was, when he arrived, an insolent student and had above all lost his self-esteem, has today, thanks to this internship, completely changed his behavior and will start cooking preparation at the Lycée professionel Clément- Ader to Bernay. The other youngster chose a work-study cooking apprenticeship and is already solicited by 3 employers. »

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Even if this device no longer needs to prove itself, Jean-Philippe Demare is worried about the next school year because the device will change formula, with a more limited budget…

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