clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Colman Andrews and John Mariani Debate the Influence of Avant-Garde Cuisine

New, 2 comments
From left: Colman Andrews, John Mariani.
From left: Colman Andrews, John Mariani.
Photo: Hillary Dixler/

Last night at the International Culinary Center in New York City, the Daily Meal's editorial director Colman Andrews and Esquire restaurant man John Mariani got together for a public debate on the topic: "Culinary Technology: a Fad or the Future?" The prompt for the debate was Mariani's statement that "the expansion and influence of that avant garde cuisine has been next to zero." Eater was on the scene last night, and the debate certainly sparked strong feelings in its participants and the audience.

Dubbing such avant-garde cuisine as "M&M" (modern and molecular), Mariani mostly rehashed his well-known anti-molecular gastronomy position. Andrews, on the other hand, argued that science inevitably has a place in kitchen, and that what avant-garde chefs like Ferran Adrià, Grant Achatz, and Wylie Dufresne have done is to speed up the rate of culinary innovation.

While Mariani often strayed off-topic into why he finds "M&M" dishes unappetizing, he did reveal some interesting opinions regarding lauded chefs and the awards they've received. On the topic of Alinea, Mariani once again bashed Achatz's three Michelin-starred Chicago restaurant: "You eat it once, and you say 'Wowee, woah, woah' and then you probably never really want to that food again."

On the subject of acclaimed chef René Redzepi and his Copenhagen restaurant Noma, Mariani said: "I was in Copenhagen just three or four years ago and nobody mentioned Noma to me. Then the highly specious as you know San Pellegrino restaurant awards...somehow thousands of food writers got to this place within one single year and declared it the single greatest place on Earth ...And [Redzepi] says 'Why not ants?'" (Incidentally, Mariani says he quit voting for the World's 50 Best list because "it's so ridiculous.")

Andrews focused mostly on how the kitchen has always been an evolving place. Calling Mariani's claim that the influence of avant-garde cuisine has been negligible "nonsense," Andrews outlined how techniques championed by chefs like sous-vide cooking are now happening at chains like Chipotle and Panera and at more traditionally-minded restaurant like Commander's Palace in New Orleans. Addressing Mariani's persistent complaints this style of food is just not appetizing, Andrews said: "The avant-garde is not for everyone, it's not meant to be comfortable."

· All John Mariani Coverage on Eater [-E-]
· All Colman Andrews Coverage on Eater [-E-]

Sign up for the Sign up for the Eater newsletter

The freshest news from the food world every day