If gastronomy can be considered part of the tradition and culture of a community, it’s because knowledge has been passed down from generation to generation. All knowledge involves discovery and research, that’s why more and more restaurants are dedicating more resources to research and innovation.
Some great chefs play on the fact that their kitchen is also a laboratory. A clear case is Noma, which baptised the non-profit organisation founded by its chef René Redzepi together with Claus Meyer (Noma’s co-founder) in 2008 to promote Nordic cuisine, researching new ways of preparing the territory’s traditional dishes, the “Nordic Food Lab”. All the information and knowledge generated can be found on his blog; in fact, sharing is a fundamental pillar in the scientific community. In this sense, one entity that stands out is the Bullifoundation. The project belonging to Ferran Adrià includes two components: El Bulli Lab and El Bulli 1846. El Bulli Lab, like the Nordic Food Lab, aims to understand the creative process of gastronomy and therefore implies a mixture of experimental and social sciences to understand both the execution and the perception of gastronomic creativity. Meanwhile, El Bulli 1846 is where the research carried out in El Bulli Lab is perfected and applied. The theoretical part of the whole process will materialise in the Bullipedia, an encylopaedia which will bring together all the knowledge produced, not only in the Bullifoundation but everywhere. The Roca brothers are also committed to dedicating part of their time to research, innovation and discovery, surrounded by experts from other disciplines like botanists and chemical engineers in La Masia.
Many universities specialising in cuisine recognise the research done by these restaurants and work hand in hand with them to move forward in the field of gastronomic know-how. A few examples are the department of Sensory Sciences of Copenhagen, the Basque Culinary Cuisine and Harvard and the University of Barcelona with its cooking and science courses. Restaurants are therefore a clear and obvious testing ground, proving that there is still a lot of ground to cover in the world of gastronomy.