The movement that is known as molecular gastronomy has received much attention over the past decade, both as a compelling artistic breach of “ordinary cuisine” and for its privileging the scientific advancement of food preparation. The great chefs of this movement are received as auteurs of the meals that they create; not simply chefs, but avant-garde performers. This article proposes that many of the facets of modern haute cuisine have parallels in the historical avant-garde. Through a theatrical lens, Culinary Pataphysics explores some of the history of food’s artistry and draws parallels between drama and cuisine and both disciplines’ use of simulation and disruption. With Alfred Jarry’s remarkable play Ubu Roi as a starting point, three famous restaurants are assessed as contemporary exemplars of an artistic movement that has long been pronounced dead.
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