What is note by note cuisine? – interview with Andrea Camastra, chef of Nuta Restaurant

Spis treści

Tym razem, wyjątkowo, wywiad będzie po… angielsku. A to dlatego, że mój rozmówca, Andrea Camastra, nie mówi po polsku, bo pochodzi z Włoch, ale już od jakiegoś czasu mieszka w Polsce i to dobrze, bo wprowadza nowości na polską scenę kulinarną: 'note by note’, gastronomię molekularną i inne światowe trendy. Jesteś ciekawy? Koniecznie przeczytaj wywiad 🤗
What is note by note cuisine? Is it possible to use that method in a 'normal’ kitchen? What is the difference between molecular gastronomy and molecular cooking? Is note by note cooking healthy and natural?
Cook, knowing, what you’re doing! Dive into molecular gastronomy and new cooking techniques with Andrea Camastra from fine dining restaurant 'Nuta’ in Warsaw.
what is note by note cuisine andrea camastra nuta restaurant
Andrea Camastra is the chef of Nuta Restaurant in Warsaw.
Source: Nuta Restaurant.
Marta Szumiata: Please tell me what the technique of note by note is.

Andrea Camastra: It is rather a conception or a method. It is a way to isolate single molecules from comprehensive compounds. It has been invented to save the planet.

Why? And how can it help Earth?

With a note by note method, we don’t have to produce and grow so many products. Therefore, transportation and pollution would decrease as well. The problem is that in around twenty years the population is estimated to be double as today (7-12 billion) while the size of the planet will be the same so we have to do something, for example minimize the amount of ingredients. We can use the predominant molecules instead of using the whole products. Let’s take mushrooms. There are many compounds, around 500, more or less, but only one is the dominant molecule that resembles the mushroom itself.

what is note by note cooking andrea camastra
Note by note cuisine can help the Earth.
Source: Nuta Restaurant.
How did your story with note by note start?

With Herve This who is my only mentor. He appeared in my restaurant in 2014 or 2015 with the first samples of some essentials dissolved in oils and ethanol (it depends on the characteristics of the compound as some are soluble in oils while others in alcohol). He started to play with them and won me over. I have to add that he is not a chef but a scientist. He has invented molecular gastronomy, molecular cooking and note-by-note conception as well.

So aren’t molecular gastronomy and molecular cooking the same?

They are two completely different things. Molecular gastronomy is for scientists. It is theoritical part with research and studies at a university. Molecular cooking is for chefs who are implementing novel techniques through recipes without having scientific knowledge. I am lucky because I do understand a bit of both of those but chefs are not meant to possess the knowledge.

molecular gastronomy vs molecular cooking difference note by note cuisine
Molecular gastronomy is not the same as molecular cooking.
Source: Nuta Restaurant.

I mix traditional cooking with molecular cooking and note-by-note. I have to listen to my guests. I can’t force them to eat what they do not want or are not ready yet.

Sometimes it is also hard to explain to guests something which is so scientific. I don’t want to threaten people and I am still running the business. But I have all the knowledge about new techniques and when time comes, I will know what to do. In a few years, it will be very precious knowledge.

‘’Nuta’’ is quite a new place, opened after a confusing ‘covid’ period. Our priority is to have a really high quality place (I want to come back to this World’s Best Restaurant Academy) and serve tasty food.

Keeping people happy is the most important. Our job is about emotions. Emotions on any level. You go to a restaurant to eat good food, your favourite food which (should) makes you happy and satisfied. So it is very emotional experience at any category of restaurant.

It doesn’t matter if it is a fine dining restaurant, simple trattoria or even McDonald’s. I know that people will kill me but even this restaurant is emotional. People take children there because they feel happy.

molecular gastronomy in warsaw poland note by note cooking
Going to restaurant is always emotional experience.
Source: Nuta Restaurant.
True! I can remember my school trips, McDonald’s was always on the list place-to-visit. It was even the biggest attraction (laugh).

Whatever they serve, it is still emotional experience. The personal feeling is the most important. It will never be mechanical.

Let’s come back to note by note cuisine. Pure ingredients are obtained in laboratories during chemical reactions. Now there is a trend to live and eat more naturally. Isn't it a contrary?

Almost nothing is natural. Even ‘pure’ ingredients like fruit or vegetables. Somebody has to plant the seed, put water in, and take care of it. Natural is only something that you find without any changes or human involvement as mushrooms. Similarly, bread, coffee, tea, wine, cheese, everything. They are not natural products. They are chemically processed as well. You start with a natural ingredient – milk but then you add enzymes, bacteria, there are lots of transformation. Even when you cook, it is not natural. The moment you put a piece of meat on the pan and fry, lots of chemical reactions start as Maillard reactions. It is hard to explain to some people but it is true.

fine dining restaurant in warsaw poland note by note cooking andrea camastra
Almost nothing is natural.
Source: Nuta Restaurant.
It is a very interesting point of view. Is it easy to use a note by note method at home?

Yes, almost all the necessary ingredients are widely available: starches, proteins, whatever. The books are also on the store shelves so people can just do it.

Could you give some examples?

Let’s take chicken with mushroom sauce. For the sauce you take a pure mushroom ingredient to give the characteristic flavour. The rest is water, oil and emulsifier to mix them together. It is the easiest way to do something with note by note. We can enrich the sauce with allium (onion) or cheese molecules. Going even further, you can thick the sauce with some starch, pour into a thin layer, dry, break and fry to obtain mushroom chips. The more knowledge you have, the more different dishes you can prepare. It is up to your imagination. There are no rules, no right or wrong ways.

Where do you find inspiration?

I have more than thirty years of experience. When I feel that idea comes and it is the right time to create something, I just do it. I can’t plan it, it is very spontaneous. I am not a person who sits down with a sheet of paper in front of lots of books. I think it is the wrongest way to push yourself. The right time will come.

The last and probably the hardest questions: what is your favourite dish? What about Polish cuisine? Italian?

I can’t indicate one dish but three ingredients that I particularly like: bread, cheese and milk. Are you shocked that there is no caviar, truffles and other more sophisticated products?

warsaw fine dining restaurant note by note cuisine andrea camastra
Inspiration comes when its time is.
Source: Nuta Restaurant.
No, because I agree with you. It is hard for me to choose only one dish but it is easier with ingredients. And I couldn’t live without cheese (and milk of course). Which is your favourite?

All of them (laughing) are nicely made, artisanal ones, not from markets. I have probably 30% of cheese in my veins. I love fish and seafood but if I don’t have them in my fridge, it is okay. Without milk, cheese and bread? It is hard to survive. In general I like everything, every cuisine, no particularly dislikes. But some days I crave for some distinct dish.

I know this feeling. Thank you very much for your time and inspiring discussion!
andrea camastra nauka na talerzu interview about note by note cuisine nuta polish fine dining restaurant in warsaw
Source: Nuta Restaurant.

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If you are curious about dishes from note by note cuisine, visit Andrea Camastra in his restaurant 'Nuta' in Warsaw.

Nuta Restaurant

Plac Trzech Krzyży 10/14, Warsaw, Poland

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