If you closed your eyes at dinner, would you be able to tell if the meal was cooked by a man or a woman? It's an intriguing experiment, one that Alinea's Grant Achatz and other food cognoscenti will undertake at an event in New York on Monday.
So, do men and women cook differently? Achatz's initial thoughts, in a nutshell: Not really.
The chef, not a man of few words, continued: "Some people I have talked to mentioned men liking bolder, spicy and more rustic flavors and women tend to favor subtleties. I certainly do not think that to be the case. In fact I wonder if gender classification can be made at all. What is a masculine presentation? Is it a giant chunk of roasted meat? What makes that manly -- the caveman connotation? Does the use of finesse in the plating mean it is from a woman's hand? I like to think I have finesse.
"Same for beautiful. I have seen many beautiful plates cooked by men. If a dish contains flowers, does it hint to female preferences? I use a lot of flowers in my cooking.
"I think where you might see a difference is when you create some framework or boundaries. Dig into periods of time or age, geographical location, ethnicity and urban versus rural areas and you will find a separation in cooking familiarity and perhaps skill. But that has more to with society's control over gender in general than the genetic makeup of people.
"One way to find out for sure."
(And in other Achatz news, the chef is shopping around his memoir.)