Molecular gastronomy on the menu for Navy chefs

This article has photo gallery Published on Department of Defence (author), ABIS Nicolas Gonzalez (author)

Location(s): Sydney, New South Wales

Maritime Logistics - Chefs from HMAS Kuttabul take part in a Molecular Gastronomy class. From left, Able Seaman Maritime Logistics - Chef (ABML-C) Shaun Jones, ABML-C Kathleen Hazeldene and ABML-C Dimitri Bellas.  (photo: ABIS Nicolas Gonzalez)
Maritime Logistics - Chefs from HMAS Kuttabul take part in a Molecular Gastronomy class. From left, Able Seaman Maritime Logistics - Chef (ABML-C) Shaun Jones, ABML-C Kathleen Hazeldene and ABML-C Dimitri Bellas.

It may have looked like a chemistry class, but 25 chefs from HMAS Kuttabul were recently schooled in molecular gastronomy by Royal Australian Navy pilot and cordon bleu chef, Lieutenant Commander Brian Steel.

Molecular gastronomy, made famous by celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal, is the art of applying scientific principles to food preparation.

Lieutenant Commander Steel, who holds a Cordon Bleu Master's Degree in Gastronomy and works as a food writer and critic after hours, said he was pleased to share his knowledge.

"Creating amazing meals that combine flavour with texture is my passion. Molecular gastronomy is technically rigorous. You need to understand cooking and sort out the flavour before you bring in the texture," he said.

"During the masterclass, I was able to demonstrate spherifications - a way of delivering a sauce in an interesting way - flavoured noodles and powders. Hopefully, this has provided the chefs with some ideas for things they can try in the future."

Spherification is a controlled jellification of a liquid that forms spheres when submerged in a bath.

The masterclass was a hit with the Navy chefs, who learned how to make a liquid into a sphere, turn a Thai green curry sauce into a noodle, and watched as chorizo oil was turned into a powder and served on a scallop.

Able Seaman Maritime Logistics Chef Shaun Jones said the class reignited his spark for food.

"My favourite flavour was the scallop and chorizo powder. It was perfection," he said.

While the chefs don't have an opportunity to use the techniques on a day-to-day basis, Able Seaman Maritime Logistics Chef Dimitri Bellas said he could incorporate elements on special occasions.

"While we can't do molecular gastronomy for mass numbers because it is time consuming, it is something we could possibly incorporate into functions to finish off a plate," Able Seaman Bellas said.

A number of the chefs plan on trying some of the techniques at home.

Able Seaman Maritime Logistics Chef Kathleen Hazeldene said she is already experimenting.

"I started teaching myself some molecular gastronomy when I was based at HMAS Coonawarra, in Darwin, so the class was pretty cool. I have tried fruit juice caviar and mozzarella balloons at home. I am definitely going to try making a sauce into pasta," she said.