molecular gastronomy
n. The application of the principles of molecular chemistry to cooking.
Other Forms
What the trio are dabbling in is essentially called molecular gastronomy, which when translated into English basically means the understanding of why food does certain things when you do certain things to it. For example, why mixing eggs, flour and sugar rises to become a cake, or what exactly happens when a souffle rises. Most people who cook know they have to cook things a certain way to get a proper result, but they don't know why. Molecular gastronomists, on the other hand, do, and because of that, they're able to use that knowledge to create new tastes and textures.

The concept was first coined in the 1980s by scientist Herve This, to describe a branch of food science that focuses on cooking and food preparation (traditional food science just looks at the chemical make-up of food). He studied traditional cooking methods to understand the scientific reasons why jam is cooked in a copper pan, why souffles rise and fall, and to come up with more effective solutions for cooking failures.
—Jaime Ee, “Adding some weird science as a cooking ingredient,” Business Times Singapore, May 15, 2004
April 28: UCI cell biologist Arthur Lander will talk about "The Joy of Molecular Gastronomy: Learning Science Through Food and Cooking," University Club, UCI.
—Gary Robbins, “Orange County Science Calendar,” The Orange County Register, April 19, 2004
1993 (earliest)
A scientific experiment will take place in millions of homes on Christmas Day in research that has been dubbed "molecular gastronomy" by Dr Peter Barham.
—“Cooking up Christmas storm with science,” Hobart Mercury, December 24, 1993