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York University student Ilan Kogan started a business selling ingredients for fanciful creations

Ilan Kogan wants to teach you how to amaze dinner guests with hot ice cream, exploding cocktails, powdered butter and blueberry juice caviar. The 20-year-old Torontonian is a student at the Schulich School of Business at York University who has a fondness for cooking, chemistry and entrepreneurship. With his startup, Atom & Eat, he has found a way to combine all these interests with the goal of popularizing the esoteric field of molecular gastronomy. He is shown here with a foamed juice made with his product Bubblo.

Chris Young/The Globe and Mail

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“I really enjoy chemistry,” says Mr. Kogan, who was the 2014 winner of the Schulich Startup Day competition. “And this is chemistry that’s to eat, so how could I turn away from that combination?” Pictured is “exploding grapefruit juice caviar,” made with Mr. Kogan’s products Cir and Kel.

Ilan Kogan

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Mr. Kogan’s Web-based company sells ingredients used in the food industry and high-end restaurants and shows how they can raise the bar in ordinary kitchens. Among them are soy lecithin, tapioca maltodextrin, agar-agar and sodium alginate, which are packaged into 25-gram units and sold for $15 each under consumer-friendly names such as Bubblo, Arida, Kanten and Cir. Above is a creation called “popping watermelon caviar with feta cheese and chili threads,” made using Atom & Eat ingredients.

Ilan Kogan

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A tin of Bubblo, a product from Atom & Eat designed for cocktails and desserts that will turn liquid into foam.

Chris Young/The Globe and Mail

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Mr. Kogan with foamed juice made with one of his products. All are approved food ingredients that most people have eaten. The problem is most people don’t know it, unless they are reading the fine print on food labels. This means Mr. Kogan faces an uphill climb trying to persuade an increasingly health-conscious public that these ingredients are safe and easy to use.

Chris Young/The Globe and Mail

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“Michelin-starred restaurants often serve entrees with foam,” Mr. Kogan says. “But if you ask someone if they want to add soy lecithin to their food, they will say, ‘No, I don’t want to add that to my food. That sounds dangerous.’ It’s difficult to sell a product that people are unreasonably scared of.” And even when people do know a bit about molecular gastronomy, they tend to believe it is too difficult and complicated to try at home.

Ilan Kogan

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Sliced asparagus stalks suspended in gel.

Ilan Kogan

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Mango & Vanilla Spheres from Atom & Eat.

Ilan Kogan

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To make his products as consumer friendly as possible, Mr. Kogan has adorned his website with eye-catching photography and innovative but easy-to-understand recipes and tutorials. As an experienced food blogger and online reviewer, he has many contacts he hopes will help spread the word for his business.

Chris Young/The Globe and Mail

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