Davide Cassi

Università di Parma

The man who, aided by the precise hand and knowledgeable palate of Ettore Bocchia, brought molecular cuisine to Italy is a quiet Italian genius. Davide Cassi, authentic reference point of global scientific cuisine, could – as he does in other physical fields – have focused on sophisticated scientific theories. Luckily for us and, possibly, for his entertainment, he decided to break things down in the kitchen to make them clearer.

What looks like a backward step as a scientist becomes a step forward, decided in relation to something that has always intrigued him, cooking: «Real revolution doesn’t consist in observing cooking from a scientific viewpoint, but in seeing science from a gastronomic viewpoint». This is the starting point of a researcher we are envied the world over and who is a veritable guru for many operators in the sector. We’ve been following him for years and every time we meet him we are amazed by how much influence he could have if his interventions were more constant: «Believing that the beautiful and the good are scientifically describable is one of the typical follies of scientism. The point is this: it isn’t a question of checking whether a gastronomic procedure is scientifically correct, but of establishing whether a scientific idea makes sense in gastronomic terms. Then it has to integrate and harmonise with all the other possible viewpoints: from aesthetics to nutrition, culture and ethics, which, however, have to be subordinate to the gastronomic viewpoint, which continues to be the characterising aspect of the discipline concerned».

One of his affective-scientific musts is liquid nitrogen: a sort of magic spell for the professor. And this liquid, which lives at –196 °C and gives off vapours like a magic potion expresses itself as if by magic. A product which will never cease to amaze us and which will lead to numerous gastronomic inventions. To the ice-cream made with this substance, he dedicated (once again with the above-mentioned chef Ettore Bocchia) the book entitled “Il gelato estemporaneo ed altre invenzioni gastronomiche” (Extemporary ice-cream and other gastronomic inventions) (Sperling & Kupfer, 2005) revised in a second edition. He also studied flute at the conservatory and when he isn’t busy with his pots and pans, he devotes his attention to studies regarding disordered matter, fractals, graph theory, not forgetting the role of Editor of the international collections of scientific books Advances in Statistical Mechanics by World Scientific Publisher, and Associate editor of the International Journal of Modern Physics. Yet when you talk to him, it seems like he has plenty of time on his hands. He’s what you might call a genius.

 

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by

Andrea Grignaffini

born in Parma in 1963, he directs the Guida Vini dell'Espresso and is the author of various books, the latest of which is "Il Cuoco universale. La cultura del piatto" (Marsilio)