For The Knickerbocker Hotel’s new Executive Chef Adin Langille, eating is a dynamic activity, with flavors rising and falling on the palate within every bite. We sat down with him to get a primer on what he calls the Arc of Flavor.
Chef Adin Langille and his Arc of Flavor
“You look at how a flavor hits your palate” says Langille. The conversation quickly turns scientific: “You’re going to taste water-soluble ingredients first, then middle ingredients, and finally oil-soluble.”
So how does Langille decide which ingredients hit in which order? “We play with what you want to finish and start your dish with, manipulating the ingredients in different ways. Sometimes you want the warming factor at the beginning, other times it’s at the end.”
For the new ceviche served at St. Cloud, for example, Langille tried a chili-infused oil citrus foam at first. The flavors were good, but they weren’t adding up correctly. “We plated it, but then decided to adjust it,” he says. The fish now comes with a chili foam and a citrus oil, bringing the chili up first and saving the refreshing citrus for last, with the salmon in the middle. In the kampachi crudo, Langille utilizes the flavor arc in a similar way. A yuzu foam hits the palate first, and a raspberry lingers later.
Of course, not everyone can whip up a yuzu foam. “Some of this take a basic understanding of molecular composition,” says Langille. Making gelatins and infused oils, however, is relatively simple for aspiring home cooks. Steep oil slowly on the stove with chile powder or citrus for a flavorful addition to the end of a bite. That will have a more fine tuned effect on a meal’s taste than an orange on the side or a dash of chili powder on top.
For tips on how to cook more creatively with oils, foams and gels, Chef Adin recommends ChefSteps on Youtube, as well as the Modernist Cuisine book anthology. “It’s over $600, so it’s a heavy investment, but it’s totally worth it.”