Eindhoven – Using molecules to spice up gastronomic experiences, Russian-German food designer Alexandra Genis proves that not everything artificial is unsustainable, as she eliminates the need to transport produce around the world.
The creative way in which the Design Academy Eindhoven graduate addresses and tackles complex and controversial topics gained her a spot in The Challenge.
You’ve nosed out a way to tackle future food shortages.
ALEXANDRA GENIS: In Western Europe, we want everything to be ‘natural’ without thinking about logic or consequences. Nature can neither produce nor sustain the amounts of strawberries, vanilla, citrus and many other foods required for flavouring the products on supermarket shelves. Why do we feel entitled to take a field of strawberries – delicious and filled with all sorts of vitamins – and use it to make jam or ice cream?
What’s your solution?
A collection of spices that create flavour through nothing but pure molecules. After reading ‘no artificial flavouring’ on a jar of yoghurt, I wondered why added flavour should be negatively perceived. I started researching the subject and found that we can taste 11,000 molecules, so why can’t each molecule be a spice?
How does Atoma work?
Each molecule has an individual flavour and can be added to a dish by rasping, like we do with nutmeg. Strawberries have up to 200 flavour compounds, but we can taste only 24 of them. I used these 24 molecules to make 24 spices, employing the molecular shape as a guideline. To produce strawberry flavouring, however, you have to mix all 24 together, just like nature does.
An ‘aroma’ is a smell, and a ‘flavour’ is something we taste. The two words are not interchangeable.
How could Atoma be applied to hospitality projects?
In a gastronomic context, Atoma is at one end of the scale and Noma’s Time & Place is at the other. Atoma has no time and place. Every flavour can be concocted everywhere, in any season or climate, eliminating the need for transporting exotic and expensive produce from faraway places. Atoma ensures high-quality food experiences without affecting the landscape.