The Institute of Culinary Education’s blog has written a really thoughtful piece on our book, The Flavor Matrix (hitting the shelves tomorrow!) Check out James’ thoughts on flavor pairing, the book writing process and which cookbooks he can’t do without
Chef James Briscione, ICE’s Director of Culinary Research, has a healthy obsession with flavor pairings. So much so that he and wife Brooke Parkhurst, a writer, cook and ICE recreational instructor, teamed up to write, “The Flavor Matrix: The Art and Science of Pairing Common Ingredients to Create Extraordinary Dishes.”
Chefs who have gotten their hands on this groundbreaking ingredient-pairing guide are singing its praises. Said acclaimed chef and restaurateur Daniel Boulud, “This comprehensive book is a great tool for any student looking to strengthen his or her knowledge of ingredients, flavors and textures. The opportunity to study and understand the science of these elements is a great advantage to today’s generation of cooks. They should all make use of it!”
In between classes at ICE, where Culinary Arts students enjoy daily face time with ICE’s resident flavor master, we caught up with Chef James to chat about his forthcoming book.
What was your motivation in writing “The Flavor Matrix”?
This project really began right at ICE when we were working with IBM on the Chef Watson project. Through our work with Chef Watson, I started to learn about the critical role aromatic compounds play in creating flavor in food. And further, how these compounds could be predictors for exciting new ingredient pairings. Understanding these concepts helped me grow exponentially as a cook and in my own creativity in the kitchen.
I wanted to continue learning about this science and exploring these, so I set out to find resources for this information and realized that they did not exist. I decided then that I had to create it.
How did your work with IBM’s Watson change your approach to flavor pairing?
Working with Watson gave me the ability to see hidden connections between ingredients created by chemical compounds — links I never would have been able to decipher through simple tasting or smelling. Learning about these connections forced me to put aside all of the preconceived notions I had about what ingredients “go together.” It forced me to start from a completely blank slate. Approaching the cooking process in this way actually fed my creativity, leading me to be more thoughtful about each ingredient and how I used it.