1. Heston Blumenthal (Fat Duck, UK).
A centrifuge for sauces? An auditory scientist to assist in making the perfect crunch on your fish and chips? Only Blumenthal would do this. As a self-taught chef, he furthers the gastronomical education of other nerd-cooks by sponsoring a Ph.D. program in the UK, and by demonstrating his research and recipe-testing procedures through his cooking shows (which to my knowledge are not available in the US – but if you can find his series on Fantastical Feasts, where he recreates historical meals, you’ll thank me). His cookbooks are also educational, but would require an extensive scientifically-equipped kitchen to carry out the recipes. The Fat Duck is outside London, in Bray, but the newly opened Dinner is conveniently located in London proper.
2. Ferran Adria (El Bulli, Spain)
Blumenthal and Adria are constantly vying for the Top Restaurant in the World status, but in my mind Blumenthal is #1 (plus, he was the predecessor according to Herve This). El Bulli is taking a break now until 2014, in part to reformulate their recipes, but there is no doubt that Adria is a culinary God, and a masterful nerd-chef. His creations extend well beyond the look, feel, and sound of a typical meal, and he constantly strives to recreate the restaurant and culinary experience. Of note, he took part in Harvard’s science of cooking lecture series this past year, and has created a foundation to serve as a think-tank for gastronomical creativity.
3. Joel Robuchon, the French chef who may have begun the molecular gastronomy movement, and who now condemns it
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