The name of the program, « Food Discovery », already makes your mouth water. This is a small unit within Danone Nutricia Research (DNR), which creates the food of « after-tomorrow », including fermented products that don’t seem much like yoghurt! Its mission is to propose inspired solutions for nearby or far away, to offer healthy food to as many people as possible, including to African or Asian countries where very little food is based on milk.
Cooperating to make science progress
Since November 2014, DNR has been sharing and improving its expertise within the « Cuisine of the Future » Chair it now supports. Backed up by the Paris-Sud Université Foundation, the Chair is run by Raphaël Haumont, a researcher in physical chemistry, in close collaboration with the Centre Français d’Innovation Culinaire (French center for culinary innovation).
Danone provides its expertise in food processing and its knowledge of people’s nutritional requirements all over the world.
The strength of these partners lies in a mixed approach combining creativity, science and experimentation. Raphaël Haumont is a great specialist in innovative cooking. To food, he applies his work on the physical phases of a substance (solid or liquid, frothy or gelled, stable or unstable, etc.) and all the interactions between a food’s ingredients. Danone provides its expertise in food processing and its knowledge of people’s nutritional requirements all over the world. Two industrial kitchen equipment manufacturers are also contributing their vision to the project.
Together, they are steering this mission of scientific innovation based on the experience of food to a successful conclusion. But they won’t stop there – the Chair also aims to train students and teachers in these new and more natural methods to transform food products.
A first event open to students
« Participating in this Chair is a scientific experiment, of course, but it is also a human one, » says François Colomban, Food Design Director at the Daniel Carrasco Research Centre, who represents the Chair with Danone. « It’s very exciting to create something together. To use a culinary term, you might even say that we are whipping it up nicely! »
In April 2015, the Chair laid on its first event at the Université d’Orsay in France: a workshop called « Innovating Food Lab Design » with over 200 students. After some highly varied presentations – from inventors’ rights to children’s behavior towards food – Raphaël Haumont and Thierry Marx, a French chef with two Michelin stars, showed what the cuisine of the future could be like if numerous foods are emulsified or gelled, for instance. A whole new world!
The collaboration with the academic world makes us ever more innovative and capable of proposing completely new experiences to our consumers
Some of Raphaël Haumont’s students, who had worked in groups on different themes, presented their projects to a panel consisting of members of the Chair. For example, with a whipped jam, lighter but just as tasty, and a gel within a gel (think of a cream dessert that contains an emulsion with a different flavor in the middle), the students had not been idle. « Even if these projects have no obvious, direct link with what we are doing, » says François Colomban, « the collaboration with the academic world makes us ever more innovative and capable of proposing completely new experiences to our consumers. »
Photos © LP/Philippe de Poulpiquet – M. Lecompt / UPSud