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Spotlight Live: The Science of Cooking

NOTE: Thanks to everyone who joined our discussion.AN INDEX OF QUESTIONS are listed below with time stamps for hearing the answers.


Some of the world's best chefs are joining a team of scientists to reveal the science behind cooking... and you're invited to also take part. Beginning October 8, Harvard University is offering a free online course called “Science & Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to Soft Matter Science.” Created in collaboration with Ferran Adrià of the famed restaurant elBulli, the course will explore how some truly incredible dishes are made possible through science. In the process, you'll also learn how science and good eating come into harmony. That’s along with discovering how all of us are putting science to work every time we walk in the kitchen.

On Oct. 2, renowned Executive Pastry Chef Bill Yosses and Harvard's Michael Brenner and Pia Sörensen discussed the new HarvardX online course, and answer your questions about the science of cooking -- including the science of cooking healthier desserts for the President's family.

 
Science and Cooking

 "Science & Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to Soft Matter Science”

Free edX Online Course From Harvard University begins Oct. 8
(Click above for the course link and click the image to the left for an introduction video)

 
Michael BrennerPia SorensenBill YossesBruce Lieberman

 

About the Participants (left to right)

  • BILL YOSSES - One of the nation’s most acclaimed pastry masters, Mr. Yosses' background includes serving as the Executive Pastry Chef for Josephs Citarella in New York City, planning/designing/opening the pastry department of Bouley Restaurant and Bakery, and operating the pastry department of the Tavern on the Green Restaurant in New York City.  Mr. Yosses speaks frequently on food and healthy living and has been closely involved in Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” initiative. He also helped develop a program at Harvard called “Science and Cooking for Kids” to teach students from Cambridge and Boston Public Schools about the math and science behind cooking. Yosses is the co-author of "The Perfect Finish: Special Desserts for Every Occasion" (2010) and "Desserts for Dummies" (1997).
  • MICHAEL BRENNER - Glover Professor of Applied Mathematics and Applied Physics at Harvard University, Harvard College Professor at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and Member of the Kavli Institute for Bionano Science & Technology at Harvard. Prof. Brenner developed the popular Harvard class, “Science & Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to Soft Matter Science,” with his colleague David Weitz and chef Ferran Adrià. His research uses mathematics to examine a wide variety of problems in science and engineering, ranging from understanding the shapes of bird beaks, whale flippers and fungal spores, to finding the principles for designing materials that can assemble themselves, to answering ordinary questions about daily life, such as why a droplet of fluid splashes when it collides with a solid surface.
  • PIA SÖRENSEN - Preceptor of Science and Cooking at the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard University. She earned her PhD in Chemical Biology at Harvard University, studying small molecule inhibitors of cell division. More recently, she has been pursuing work related to her interest in interdisciplinary applications of science and online education. She has been co-developing and managing the residential Science and Cooking course at Harvard since its second year, and is currently remodeling its content for the online version, Science & CookingX. As an educator in the science of food and cooking, she hopes to bring creative and intuitive approaches to science education that promotes awareness of the physics and chemistry everywhere around us.
  • BRUCE LIEBERMANFreelance science writer and moderator. Bruce has more than 20 years of experience in the news business. He worked as a reporter at daily newspapers for many years before becoming an independent writer and editor in 2010. For The Kavli Foundation, he has interviewed researchers about numerous topics in astronomy & astrophysics, neuroscience and nanotechnology. He has also written for Scientific American, Smithsonian Air & Space and Sky & Telescope magazines, and other media outlets about a variety of science topics.

Your Questions

On Oct. 2, renowned Executive Pastry Chef Bill Yosses and Harvard's Michael Brenner and Pia Sörensen discussed the new HarvardX online course, and answer your questions about the science of cooking -- including the science of cooking healthier desserts for the President's family.

  • Why is cooking such a great vehicle to teach about science? (4:15)
  • How does our understanding of science impact our cooking? (6:15)
  • How did the idea for this course come about? (7:15)
  • When did you start to think of cooking as a scientific exercise? (8:40)
  • How do we sign up for the class? (10:30)
  • What were the challenges in constructing this online course? (11:20)
  • How do scientific ideas (e.g. electricity) factor into your cooking lectures/demonstrations? (14:00)
  • Can you give an easy recipe that incorporates some of these priniciples? (16:40)
  • How has this course changed the perspective on the research you do? (19:15)
  • What is your favorite dish in the course? (22:10)
  • How can science help us preserve flavors in food? (25:15)
  • What is the most valuable thing your have learned while preparing for this course? (27:25)
  • How does science help us eat more nutritous food? (30:25)