Cookware: here's a chef speaking


I would love this to be a category itself.
I’ve been following this initiative since I met @Caleb in the Basque Country, where about 12 people from different backgrounds gathered around a table wondering how could we cooperate worldwide and generate positive impact using food & gastronomy as a vehicle.

OpenAg. is a a community that is doing this in certain way.

As a cook I want to open and make available to this community my knowledge on ingredients, culinary arts, gastronomy, multisensorial experiences, flavors, aromas, textures and related topics.

How about starting with 2 discussion:

  1. Do you guys think that chefs and culinary designers can contribute to this knowledge-sharing collective? how? I would like to hear sincere and reasoned “Yes” or “nos” . Whatever is welcome as long as there are arguments and constructive opinions

  2. Is flavor/pleasure truly important when growing/transforming food?

@webbhm @wsnook



My short answer is yes and yes.

In more detail: I’m interested in OpenAg primarily because of how it fits with my expectations of how the near future is likely to unfold–thinking about growing food in this way seems like a useful adaptation to climate change, industrial pollution, and increasing space exploration. Caleb talks about how many young people now see farming as an undesirable career. That’s due in part to the risks of unpredictable yields–or predictably bad yields–and hard working conditions. Indoor farming seems like part of the answer to reversing that trend and ensuring that farming continues to be a viable occupation. It has to be!

But, it does no good to develop technology for growing food without an understanding that people mostly don’t think about food in abstract or rational ways. People relate to food instinctively–flavor, pleasure, and aesthetics play a huge role. It’s ultimately more about the experiences of shopping at markets, cooking, eating, feeding loved ones, and socializing over shared meals.

Technology developed here will be more relevant if it takes those things into account.

I’d be interested to hear about how you imagine OpenAg could help with problems you’ve encountered as a chef.


I’m glad to see that this has been brought up and agree it should be an entire section in the forums by itself @gordonb.

  1. Absolutely, I see two very important roles that chefs have to play in the development of this community. The first is in the area of crop selection. I think very few of us have gotten past growing a handful of crops, and the reality is there is an opportunity here to diversify the selection of produce at the fingertips of chefs everywhere if this technology is proliferated. For the next generation of #nerdfarmers to be successful we need to know what the demand is, and there needs to be transparency about what you as professionals are willing to accept as a product. I have heard from many indoor farmers that chefs are very impressed with how soft their Kale is compared to alternatives. I would love to start to understand what defines “quality produce” to you, as well as what specific varieties are hard to come by, but are worth the cost and effort. The second area I would love to see you participate in is with understanding the relationships between nutrition, flavor. There is a huge amount of collaboration and shared knowledge among chefs about what foods go well together, I would LOVE to start to understand WHY these foods go well together.

  2. Depends, who you ask. I understand the arguments of those who say what we are doing only applies to a small portion of agriculture and the bulk of calories will remain in open-field for quite some time. I also think that the way we think of agriculture right now is flawed and we grow crops and then find uses for them, instead of the other way around. I think the real opportunity for transformation in food here is a transformation in deciding what we grow. It is tempting to create a system where we measure the “Best recipe” in terms of biomass. Or in terms of speed to achieve a certain standard. These improvements though only add value to our food system though if they are also equally nutritious, and are flavorful enough to be demanded. Do flavor and quality go hand and hand? Can one be achieved without the other? You already have opened my mind to what flavor even means, the concept of incorporating smell as an end metric to decide the worth of a recipe might not make sense for lettuce, but it might for mint & basil.

Just my two cents!



I absolutely understand your position. The culinary guild faces the challenge of ensuring that cooking continues to be (or becomes) a viable and respectable occupation, as well as promoting an upcoming future in which people remain connected with and through their food.

I hope that upcoming generations will learn to assamble and program a PFC as easy and as common as learning how to ride a bike.
And what I see as an important challenge is to open up, “translate” and spread this conversation among several people who don’t understand about code or software matters.

I would not know whether to call them “problems”, but I identify certain themes and questions that could serve as cross-pollinating vehicles, or pretexts to start a conversation together e.i: what are the most demanded/desired phenotypes from foods in terms of flavor, texture and aroma?
Could your recipes be “extended” to the kitchen? (just as @gordonb mentions)
Could we translate all the quantitative data to quialitative descriptions and classifications (once again, interms of flavors, aromas and textures)?
Could we create something like a PFC CookBook in collaboration with Dan Barber or a brilliant Basque chef?

“What goes well together” is as complex and infinite as culture itself, even though, from my personal experience I could say that in general terms (there are always exceptions) well balanced flavors (sweet, savory, sour, bitter and Umami) are desirable, as well as texture contrasts (crispy-soft/tender… solid-liquid).
An important fact is that olfactory perception represents about 80% of what we call flavor.
This is an interesting initiative to take a look: :slight_smile:


hi @jpelaez1! I worked at noma before coming to work at OpenAg so this topic is very important to me!

1- I would love to see the knowledge-sharing that starts as hardware and software discussion as well as climate recipes growing into a place where all kinds of knowledge about food can be shared. So, it’s one thing to know how to grow 1000 kinds of plants but what do we do with it after it’s grown? Why bother growing plant X if it’s tricky (perhaps, because it is essential for a really interesting dish!). And, as restaurants become more interested and involved in growing food, they can give unique and invaluable insights on cooking-directed farming.

2-100% yes. I would argue that flavor is the most important tool we have to choose what to eat, especially with plants. An intense and complex flavor is the best proxy for an overall richness in phytochemicals, flavor molecules being one part of a larger group of phytochemicals, and nutrient and bioactive molecules being another overlapping group. Steadily since the 18th century we’ve moved to systems that are much less rich in both flavor and phytonutrients—through breeding as well as through growing techniques. I think its useful to think of the pleasure we get from complex, intense, and varied flavors not as an “extra bonus”, but as a key signal that we’re eating the right way! (note that this doesn’t apply to industrially processed, flavor-added foods, which bypass the evolved relationship between flavor and nutrition). We devote our largest family of genes, about 2% of our genome, just to be able to sense smells, which physiologically happens not just when we sniff but when we eat. What evolutionary pressures could be in place to spend the energy preserving the ability to distinguish between different types of basil, a raspberry or a strawberry, just by flavor?

I’m working on developing a more culinary-world-facing side of OpenAg so I’m glad you found our forum already!

Basic questions about flavor data and recipe bag
Flushing strawberry - BRIX Content
Growing Veggies packed w/ Flavor & Nutrition

Hi @arielle. First of all, apologies for replying this late.
It is great to share ideas with what I would call “next-gen” chefs; those cooking & flavor lovers who want to push the boundaries of gastronomy and find out what happen when we open our field and interact with other disciplines in order to identify new ideas, opportunities, solutions or projects.

This cooking-directed farming was the first thing that came to my mind when I heard for the first time Caleb talking about OpenAg and “climate recipes” - A cookbook or chef recipe might include in the ingredients, basil seeds; x% humidity; xºC, etc. That sounds very exciting, and supports Ferran Adria’s (and many other’s, I guess) idea that the action of cooking actually starts way before people commonly think it does.

I didn’t know about that correlation between flavor intensity+complexity and phytonutrients availability; and hadn’t conceived flavor variety+intensity+complexity as signals of both pleasure & eating the right way.

I’m also glad to contribute to the discussion from a more culinary point of view, and I’m really looking forward to hear you talking about flavor and all this great ideas on June the 26th in the Basque Country!