Gastronomixs – ‘Culinary Lego’ – Recipes Based on Components of Everyday Ingredients for an Endless Supply of Dishes
Chef Jeroen van Oijen and food designer Inge Meijs run Gastronomixs.com, the online idea generator that enables chefs to create endless delicious and inspiring new dishes. Using ‘building blocks’ – the founders have called it ‘culinary Lego’ – the recipes are based on components of everyday ingredients. The service has proven itself in The Netherlands and that’s one of the reasons why they decided to officially launch Gastronomixs in the UK last May. Three successful months on, we talk to co-founder Inge Meijs.
How did the idea for Gastronomixs come about?
Jeroen is a chef himself and when he worked in kitchens (everything from Michelin-starred restaurants to big catering companies), he missed having a book or source that offered inspiration with ingredients as a starting point instead of dishes. He was collecting cookbooks and culinary magazines like crazy, but that isn’t as workable as an online source. When I met Jeroen in 2009, we started talking about publishing a book full of components, categorised by ingredients. But… a book is history the minute it is printed, so we decided online was the future as we could add new preparations on a daily basis.
How does Gastronomixs work?
A component is a basic preparation method revolving around one single ingredient. This includes things such a sweet avocado creme for desserts, a roast salmon belly fillet or a firm tomato foam. A component is not a dish in itself, but part of a dish. Components are culinary building blocks that you can use to make endless variations and combinations. Components are a sort of Lego for chefs. Instead of browsing through hundreds of cookbooks and websites (with recipes that often aren’t tested) in search for inspiration, chefs use Gastronomixs as a brainstorm partner. In that way, Gastronomixs helps chefs to quickly generate ideas.
How many chefs have signed up to it and what has the reaction been like?
At the moment we have over 21,400 members in total, and over 450 from the UK and Ireland. The reactions on the launch have been overwhelming! Chefs have told us Gastronomixs is the source that they’ve been waiting for, that it’s very user friendly and that it saves them a lot of ‘trial and error’ time in the kitchen. They say it’s a great resource and a very useful tool for basic and modern cooking – we have had some great feedback so far. I guess it’s because we like to profile ourselves as independent and facilitating. We love to simplify the creative process of chefs and make their work more fun.
Which ingredients are proving the most popular?
In July, some the most popular ingredients were: egg, green herbs, beetroot and apricots. Some of the most viewed components were basic sponge cake; puffed wild rice; poaching quail eggs the easy way; sweet basil gel; deep-fried egg yolk and leek ash. Search terms that were used the most in July: puree; fennel; cucumber; carrot and corn.
Who creates the recipes and how rigorous is the recipe testing?
We work together with a lot of chefs to generate ideas for new component schedules. The most fanatic chefs who share their recipes with us are called ‘Gastronauts’. The names of the chefs are mentioned alongside the recipes. We are looking for chefs from The UK and Ireland to join our Gastronauts. We test the recipes multiple times in our high-end test kitchen. Because every recipe has a photo with it, we always test and taste the recipe when the photoshoot is being held, but also before that. Jeroen does the photoshoots and testing together with our chef/manager test kitchen and a professional photographer.
What are the plans for Gastronomixs over the coming months?
We are working very hard to get Gastronomixs known by chefs in the UK and Ireland through the press, social media and the networks we’re working with such as The Chefs’ Forum in UK. At the latest Chefs’ Forum London event at Buddha Bar, Jeroen and I took the floor and explained more about Gastronomixs to top London chefs. We will attend the next event in London in October too. Already looking forward to it!
Do you think Gastronomixs will put an end to chefs buying cookbooks for their kitchens?
Absolutely not! We have over 1,500 cookbooks in our office and love browsing through them. A chef may buy a cookbook from a renowned chef to get to know all about their vision, and really get into their cooking style – they sit back and get inspired. However, this is not the easiest and most diverse way for a chef to start creating their own dishes. If chefs use Gastronomixs, they don’t get tempted to copy complete dishes. Rather they are given the opportunity to evolve their own cooking by using all those different components.
How do chefs sign up?
It’s easy! Signing up costs less than 30 seconds. And we’ve got a special offer in honor of The Chefs’ Forum! Go to https://www.gastronomixs.com/en/couponcode and use the coupon code ‘TCFGSX18’ for a free two-month trial (instead of the normal two-week trial). After the free trial, you can choose between a monthly membership (only €6 a month) that automatically renews every month, or a yearly membership (€60 a year).