How can science make us better cooks, and how can cooking make us better scientists?
Food and cooking are part of your everyday life. Whether you are a skilled chef or a home-cook, what you do in the kitchen is deeply rooted in science. This class brings together top chefs and Harvard scientists to explore how everyday cooking and haute cuisine can illuminate basic principles in physics and chemistry. Throughout the semester you will watch as chefs reveal the secrets behind some of their most famous culinary creations. Inspired by such cooking mastery, we will then explore the science behind the recipes. Students will gain a solid understanding of the properties and fundamental behaviors of soft matter materials. All food is made of soft materials, and cooking relies on many of their fundamental properties. Topics will include: emulsions, illustrated by aioli; elasticity, exemplified by the done-ness of a steak; and diffusion, revealed by the phenomenon of spherification, the culinary technique pioneered by Ferran Adria. The course includes laboratory work where students develop their skills as experimental scientists. Other assignments include weekly homeworks, in-class exercises, and a final project where students explore the science of a culinary topic of their choosing.