Camastra and the future note by note

He’s Italian, he has a Michelin star in Poland and is developing a project to extract pure flavours and aromas from ingredients

27-04-2018

Apulian Andrea Camastra, 38, is the chef at restaurant Senses in Warsaw, one Michelin star (photo credits Senses)

What is flavour? What is it made of? These are the questions the pioneers of the note by note philosophy are asking themselves. Andrea Camastra, Italian chef at Senses in Warsaw, one of the two starred restaurants in Poland, has been following these principles.

In cooking, note by note investigates flavours and aromas, used as pure components, extracted from the ingredients that are responsible for the flavour and aroma of a specific product. This approach allows the chef to compose dishes in a unique way, through “abstract” flavours, which are usually not part of culinary tradition.

Senses is the first restaurant in the world to have a menu designed with this method: the dishes are not simple sums of ingredients, but essences of taste. The menu is always based on seasonal products, through 3 tasting menus: small menu (around 70 euros), medium menu (100 euros) and the large menu (130 euros). We discussed it with the chef.

First of all, what is an Italian chef doing in Warsaw?

My wife is Polish. Warsaw is a very tranquil and enjoyable place: there’s plenty of forests, the economy is very good, and food culture is important. I decided to accept this challenge as an Italian. I want to reinterpret Polish cuisine by also including Asian and international influences, using what I like to eat myself.

Barszcz, ravioli filled with lamb and bryndza cheese, caviar

Barszcz, ravioli filled with lamb and bryndza cheese, caviar

What is the note by note cuisine?

It’s an artistic development, it’s a continuation of the molecular cuisine invented by French physicist and chemist Hervé This. It’s a method, note à note, that we owe him. It refers to the pure components of a cloned ingredient. In every element, you have multiple components: in a mushroom, you can have over 500 components but then it’s just one molecule that is responsible for its flavour and aroma. We isolate it and clone it.

You said chefs are like artists. What do you mean?

Contrary to molecular cuisine, in this case you don’t deal with recipes, grams or temperatures but with pure components from which chefs, like artists, can create something unique. They can create food without using animal or vegetal fibres. By 2050, we’ll have twice the current global population. At this rate, food will no longer suffice. By generating an archive of pure flavours the note à note system could save humanity from hunger.

What sort of gastronomic experience do clients enjoy at your restaurant?

Senses is a place where you take on a culinary journey. At the moment, we serve a menu of 24 courses per person. It’s all made of small nibbles of reinterpreted or fusion cuisine, with essential Polish foundations.

Plums, bison grass, honey 

Plums, bison grass, honey 

Is it a good time for Polish gastronomy?

There’s an incredible, constantly growing interest. They’re opening new restaurants every week. And the food they serve is very good overall.

What are the most emblematic ingredients?

Roots and tubers: beetroot, potatoes, or onions. And fermented products: cabbage, cucumbers, apples. And then there’s game and cheese made with buttermilk or kefir.

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso


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