Why Do I Want to Become a Gastronomst?
Gastronomy is one of those terms often tossed around in the culinary field, used to define everything from fine dining experiences to specific studies of the chemical manipulation of food. While popular use puts the word almost always in the hands of chefs and cooks, gastronomy actually goes beyond cooking to define the food world as a whole.
From the science of human digestion to the study of cultures and the way they interact with food, gastronomy is all about the relationship between humans, food, and the world we live in.
History of Gastronomy
For as long as there has been food, there has been gastronomy in some form or another. Questions regarding what we eat have always been around:
How can we make this taste better?
What provides the best boost of energy?
What types of foods have healing properties?
How can we cultivate this food to provide more of it?
Later on, cuisine became more specialized, and cookbooks and apprenticeships developed to provide instruction on the preparation of food.
However, it wasn’t until the 1800s that gastronomy started to develop as an actual field of study. Instead of simply learning how to make food, people began to focus on how dining could be an experience—how the senses interacted in order to create a whole meal to be enjoyed. The French, of course, are the first to claim the title and the field as their very own.
Careers in Gastronomy
As long as you integrate a learning component into what you do, almost any culinary career can be considered a part of the larger gastronomy umbrella. Although being a chef or molecular gastronomist is your best way to earn the “gastronomy” title, you can also go beyond the kitchen to consider:
Cultural food studies
Culture, food, and human development
Health and nutrition
Some culinary schools take this idea one step further; for example, Boston University offers a Master of Liberal Arts in Gastronomy degree.
Critics will tell you, however, that you don’t have to work in food at all to be a true gastronomer. Simply enjoying food, appreciating cuisine, and building up your skills as a connoisseur in the field can all contribute to your growth in the gastronomy spectrum.
Read, Read and Read Some MoreOne of the best suggestions I have for anyone thinking of going to culinary school or just getting into the restaurant industry is to read everything you can get your hands on. Learn from professional chefs who have worked in the industry and those who have taught in culinary schools.
There are many great books available to get you started in your culinary education and I suggest you read as much as possible before making that big decision to make sure this is the right move for you. Below is just a sample of books you might be interested in checking out.
For a much more comprehensive list of books for aspiring culinary, baking and restaurant management students, I suggest checking out my post on books for future culinary students and chefs.