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Stephan Pyles Talks About Molecular Gastronomy at Fuego in Dallas

Stephan Pyles reinvents the wheel. Well, he introduces molecular gastronomy to Dallas. Same difference.

On August 5, Stephan Pyles will debut Fuego, a 4-seat “restaurant” in front of the wood-burning oven inside his restaurant Stephan Pyles. Fuego will feature a 7-10 course tasting menu that will include many items created with molecular gastronomy techniques along with other dishes (foie gras!) finished off or seared in the oven. Fuego will offer two seatings (6:30 and 9:00) on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. Cost is $125.00 for food. Wine pairing is an additional $75.00. It’s no surprise that Fuego is almost totally booked for August.

Yesterday, Andrew Chalk and I visited with Pyles and his execuchef Matt McCallister and checked out their new kitchen laboratory. They took us through a series of demonstrations on   “cooking” with emulsion blenders, liquid nitrogen, and reverse spherification. Hungry? I suggest you throw some popcorn into the sous vide thermal circulator and get ready to watch the future of cooking in Dallas. Well, part of Dallas. Below you will find some fascinating videos.

There is a revolution sweeping the world of cuisine. It is called molecular gastronomy and consists of a bit of science, a bit of technique, and a bit of ingredient selection. Many of its practitioners don’t label themselves with the term but nonetheless hew to the principles. Globally, the restaurant voted the best in the world by the professional tome Restaurant Magazine three years running, El Bulli, is run by the high priest of this school of cuisine, Ferran Adria, and he is considered the ne plus ultra of three-star Michelin chefs.

(Liquid nitrogen mojitos below. OMG.) New York, Washington D.C, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Miami are among the small but growing list of U.S. cities that have molecular gastronomy restaurants. Dallas is about to join their ranks. Stephan Pyles and executive chef  Matt McCallister have already invested over a year exploring and experimenting with food and techniques.

First they showed us a technique called reverse spherification.

And then they applied it.

However, perhaps the most visual techniques involved liquid nitrogen.

And if that drives you to drink, it is reassuring to know that there is molecular gastronomy mixology.

Alternatively, you can also make a watermelon melon look like Spanish ham (and even give it a similar texture.)

Stephan Pyles talks about Fuego’s menu.

Pyles and execuchef Matt McCallister describe their inspiration.

In the face of a gloomy business environment which has recently taken many prestigious restaurants down, it is reassuring to find such a significant culinary step taking place in town. This adds a whole new cuisine category to Dallas dining.

31 comments on “Stephan Pyles Talks About Molecular Gastronomy at Fuego in Dallas

  1. This is intense stuff. Is the food good? Can’t see people flocking to it but it’s cool to know it’s here. Is there a menu of what he will serve?

  2. So, is he doing this just to “keep up with the Jones’” and so that Dallas can brag that they can play with the big guys (for “guys” read “Cities”)when it comes to food innovation? For someone who was once on the cutting edge for innovative food, SP seems to be following the rest of the sled dogs.

  3. “Fuego” is apparently 4 seats at the the Tapas Bar at Stephan Pyles, in operation 3 nights weekly – not a new restaurant that is opening. It doesn’t need “people flocking” to be successul. My guess is that he’s doing it because he enjoys the style of food and it’s fun for his chefs. And Pyles (and McCallister) are not the first to do it in Dallas. Anthony B. at Nana has been practicing limited molecular cuisine for awhile.

  4. Geez…these guys are 13+ years behind the times. These concepts/techniques are pretty much dead. How about supporting local, fresh product with intense flavor? El Bulli isn’t the best restaurant in the world…hell, it’s about to close its doors for good. Noma is the #1 restaurant in the world and it has a nice balance of locally sourced product with modern technique.

    By the way, the formula for the alginate bath is wrong. It should be 800g h20, 40g sugar, 4g alginate.

  5. …and LN2 is -320 degrees below zero not -600-something. You’d think as a chef you’d research your product and educate yourself on technique.

  6. Just as I thought the trend was over….

    In this years NRA trends list molecular gastronomy was no where in there. It was all about eco friendly and local practices.

    I don’t think my money will be going to these machines when it could be going to delicious home grown food!

  7. it’s boardem… tell em to get off their butt and call spiceman for some real food,
    ya know for cryin out loud dudes…pick up the phone a couple times a week and PLACE AN ORDER!!!

  8. “These concepts/techniques are pretty much dead.”

    Wrong. They are spreading to more places in more countries all the time. There are now two TV shows that cover some or all of them (‘Future Food’ and ‘On Search of Perfection’). Expect more.

    “How about supporting local, fresh product with intense flavor”.

    Did you watch the videos? Local fresh produce is WHAT these techniques were appied to (e.g. the Basil). MG may in fact be the way to get the most flavor out of local ingredients.

    “El Bulli isn’t the best restaurant in the world…hell, it’s about to close its doors for good”

    Wrong. The owner and chef Ferran Adria, in the face of 400,000+ reservations a year, has voluntarily closed it, possibly reopening it at a later date. It now looks like it will become some kind of advanced chefs training institute.

    “Noma is the #1 restaurant in the world”
    And one of the places the chef, René Redzepi, trained was where? El Bulli, under Adria.

  9. As evidence of how hot MG is you offer the fact that it has filtered down to popular television programs, third world countries, and third tier restaurant cities? If you think that makes a fashion cutting edge or avant garde, I’ve got a bridge on the Trinity that I’ll sell you .

  10. Day Old Trends: That is evidence that MG is growing, not ‘dead’. You need to read before replying.

  11. I was going to mention that I took a cooking class with Bombaci (Nana’s Chef) maybe two years ago and he demonstrated a lot of MG dishes. I really don’t think of this as the newest thing. Though, obviously, there are a few people out there who have a stronger opinion about it than I do.

  12. Limiting a menu to 8 people a night… now that’s a new one for me. People will be scrambling for the seats!

  13. so because MG has been around, Dallas should never try it? Brilliant reasoning.

  14. Natalie: Molecular Gastronomy is not at odds with home-grown food. On the contrary, it offers new techniques to get the best out of such things as fruit, vegetables and herbs. A case in point would be the basil that Matt McCallister froze with liquid nitrogen in video three. The result was a massive increase in the intensity of the basil flavor. I don’t know of any other cooking technique that can achieve this but I would wager that the better the raw basil, the better the result.

  15. Molecular Gastronomy is probably on its way out, that’s why Alinea is going out of business….oh wait…

  16. “800g h20, 40g sugar, 4g alginate.”
    Never heard of that ratio, my recipe comes straight from the person who invented it, Ferran Adria. I am however, interested to know where your ratio is from and the difference it would make.
    “LN2 is -320 degrees below zero not -600-something”
    You are correct, LN2 is -321 degrees, I was nervous and forgot.
    “theblacktooth”
    I just talked to Spiceman today and in fact get produce from him every week, as well as Motley Farms, Rocky Tassione, Juha Ranch, and soon to be Edens Organic Farm. In fact most of my produce and meat is locally sourced and all our seafood is sustainable and has been for a long time. This is an 8 seats a night three nights a week tasting menu that is different from the amazing food we serve on our regular menu and other 2 tasting menus. It dinner and a show, modern food and local ingredients. Don’t knock it before you try it. Check out the Brads Adventures In food Blog to see some pics of different food
    we have done.

  17. “Future Food” is a joke. Nothing more than science experients…no real food to be eaten. I’ve actually eaten at Moto and while the technique was extremely inventive the food was hardly edible.

    “In Search of Perfection” is actually 4+ years old. Just because you saw it on TV for the first time 2 months ago doesn’t make it a “new” show. Plus, Blumenthal doesn’t chemically alter anything. His final dish is never an avatar of the original. Try to keep up here…

    Just because Redzepi trained under Adria doesn’t mean he employs the exact same techniques. He is the next step in culinary evolution. He emphasis quality ingredients with modern techniques…never completely changing them around like Adria did.

    Besides, who still calls it “Molecular Gastronomy”? All those associated with its inception to the culinary world despise the term.

  18. Chef Matt,

    I think its great that you are trying to implement modern technique into local cuisine but this article has painted a bad picture that the entire concept of “Fuego” is 100% “molecular gastronomy”…which is not appetizing at all.

    An alginate bath formula will change depending on the viscosity of an item but a good base is 800g h20, 40g sugar, 4g alginate. 4g alginate is all you should need to activate 800g h20…the 40g sugar is to add water-tension and counter-balance the bitterness from alginate/calcium.

    In the first video it was apparent that there was trouble demonstrating a perfect sphere of tomato…this is because the water tension was too low. Adding sugar will help with this. You may even try playing with 30g sugar.

    Give it a try and let me know how it turns out.

  19. Day Old Trends: I have air-dried herbs and that technique makes my point. The flavors are intensified by about a factor of two (that is why recipes say halve the herb quantity if using dried herbs). The effect shown in video three tasted as though the concentration was of a different order. That is the effect that I cannot replicate with any other technique. When Fuego opens, try something with the powedered basil and see what you think.

  20. AheadofYouIsOutOfDate: Freeze-drying a basil leaf doesn’t remove much more water than air drying or using a conventional dehydrator. It just does it faster. Your common sense is being clouded by liquid nitrogen smoke and mirrors.

  21. Okay using LN2 does not freeze dry.. It freezes very quickly and gives you the ability to blend into a powder. It isn’t dry at all in fact you serve it in a slightly less than frozen state otherwise it will oxidize and thaw out. It tastes just like fresh basil because it is, and it tastes more intense because it covers more surface area on your tongue without having to chew anything.

    Not everything is going to be avant garde. It will be modern, and local with fun presentations. All the old techniques won’t even be used at “Fuego”. I just don’t want to give anything away. Food has to taste great. I don’t plan on serving a tasting menu of jello.

  22. Chef Matt hit the nail on the head. Food has to taste great. The techniques are tools for the artist. If you love the meals you’ve had at Stephan Pyles while Chef Matt has been there, you’ll love what he does with the expanded tool kit. Chef Pyles has an eye for talent. When he gives Chef Matt a showcase like this, you know it’ll be top drawer all the way.

  23. Why all the hate? No, they are not breaking new culinary ground at Fuego. But lets face it, very few chefs actually invent something completely new. While what i put on my menu might be an original thought to me, be local, seasonal, and taste delicious ultimately it is derivative of everyone that has come before me. Do you really think I could create a new flavor combination with foods that have been around for millennia?

    I applaud Matt and Stephan Pyles for doing something that is not commonly done in Dallas. If it’s not for you, DON’T GO!!

    Jeez, haters just gonna hate.

  24. Progressive chefs come up with new flavor combinations all the time, Kev. Scan the current menus of The Fat Duck, WD50 or Alinea and tell me you can’t find a flavor combination you’ve never had before.

  25. I’m just a regular diner and bored to death with the restaurants in Dallas. Stephan Pyles seems to be the only chef in town that keeps doing new things. Dallas loves steakhouses………snore! I think this is exciting and new to me! I hope I can get a seat!!

  26. Try Nana, lynn, unless you’ve already had dishes like pickled cucumber spaghetti with yogurt-lime ice cream and basil, pork belly with rhubarb chutney and curried cauliflower, or carrot marmalade with passionfruit granita and peanuts.

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