Too cool. Just received in the mail a book called The Flavor Bible, and although I've only perused the first few pages I'm already hooked. There's a big part of me that's totally a list person, so I love the way authors Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg go about breaking down the experience of eating into categories, viz:
*Taste: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, umami (this we know)
*Mouthfeel: temperature, texture, piquancy (sharpness) and astringency ("pucker" inducing, a drying sensation as in highly tannic wine -- thus different from "sour")
*Aroma: pungency, chemesthesis (tickling sensations as from carbonation, or "tricks" like mint seeming "cool")
*And finally, the X factor: visual/physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.
They go on to talk about chefs who embody these four X factors:
Alice Waters and Dan Barbour: physical
The connection to the locale is strong, who source from their own farms, with an interest in the simple brilliancy of fresh flavors
Rick Bayless, Vikram Vij (because of their ties to specific cultures, people and traditions): Emotional
Grant Achatz (and other "conceptual" chefs, like Keller, Adria, etc.): Mental
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Daniel Boulud and Patrick O'Connell: Spiritual. Because they transcend the previous three categories and attend to ambiance and service to create a meaningful experience.
So here's the question: Where would you place our top chefs according to these categories? Allan Susser? Michelle Bernstein? Michael Schwartz? Johnny V? Stephen di Asprinio? Norman Van Aken? Dean James Max? Oliver Saucy?