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Architects of Taste

BBC Radio 4

In conversation with today's proponents of 'new cookery' and through the story of one of the first celebrity 'architectural' chefs, Atonin Careme, Ian Kelly explores the long-running relationship between cookery and art.

Chefs such as Heston Blumenthal, Thomas Keller and Ferran Adrià have over the past two decades led what some believe to be, not just the ultimate culinary revolution, but a "modernist movement" akin to the French impressionist painters of the 19th century in its creativity and challenge of culinary assumptions. In a manifesto for their art they have declared :

"The act of eating engages all the senses as well as the mind. Preparing and serving food could therefore be the most complex and comprehensive of the performing arts."

As scientist-turned-chef Nathan Myhrvoid has just published what has been called the cookbook to end all cookbooks - 6 volumes of the art and science of cooking - the question of whether "cooking is an art" is again up for debate.

Ian looks back at past food art crazes, including the first celebrity chef to become a food writer and illustrator, Atonin Careme, as well as generations of food sculptors, and the ultimate food as performance - when mechanics met gastronomy in a public, clockwork sugar and marzipan depiction of the birth of Louis IV son!

Transmission Details

15th March 2012