2016 Science and Cooking Public Lecture Series

The popular Science and Cooking lecture series returns this fall, offering members of the public the opportunity to embark on a culinary tour of four continents. The lecture series pairs Harvard professors with celebrated food experts and renowned chefs to showcase the science behind different culinary techniques. This year’s presenters will cover a wide range of topics, including beef made in a lab, the secrets of French cheese caves, and the delicious science of sweet desserts.

Now in its seventh year, the series is organized by Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS).

The public lectures are based on the Harvard course “Science and Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to the Science of Soft Matter,” but do not replicate course content.

  • All talks will take place in the Harvard Science Center (1 Oxford St., Cambridge, Mass., Hall C) and begin at 7 p.m., unless otherwise noted
  • Each presentation will begin with a 15-minute lecture about the scientific topics from that week’s class by a faculty member from the Harvard course
  • Seating for all lectures is first come, first seated

If you have questions regarding the public lecture series, please contact science_cooking@seas.harvard.edu.

2016 Chef Lecture Dates

Monday, Sept. 5
“Science and Cooking: New Understanding, New Tools, New Foods”
Science Center Lecture Hall C, 7 p.m.
Dave Arnold (@CookingIssues), Booker & Dax, and host of “Cooking Issues”
Harold McGee (@Harold_McGee), writer, “Curious Cook” and “On Food and Cooking”

Monday, Sept. 12
"Energy, Temperature, Heat"
Science Center Lecture Hall C, 7 p.m.
Spike Gjerde, (@spikegjerde), Woodberry Kitchen

Monday, Sept. 19
“The Science of Sugar”
Science Center Lecture Hall C, 7 p.m.
Joanne Chang ’91, (@jbchang), Flour Bakery, author of “Flour” and “Flour Too”

Tuesday, Sept. 27
“Medical Technology Producing Hamburgers”
Science Center Lecture Hall B, 7 p.m.
Mark Post, (@MarkPost6), Professor of Physiology at Maastricht University, co-inventor of cell cultured beef

Monday, Oct. 3
“Diffusion and Gelation in Peruvian Cooking”
Science Center Lecture Hall C, 7 p.m.
Virgilio Martínez, (@VirgilioCentral), Central
Malena Martínez, (@MMVCentral), Central

Monday, Oct. 17
Science Center Lecture Hall C, 7 p.m.
Margarita Forés, (@MargaritaFores), Cibo Restaurants

Monday, Oct. 24
"Viscosity and Polymers"
Science Center Lecture Hall C, 7 p.m.
Bill Yosses, (@billyosses), former White House executive pastry chef, author of “Desserts for Dummies” and “The Perfect Finish”
Vayu Maini Rekdal, (@youngNYchefs), co-founder of the Young Chefs Program, Ph.D. candidate at Harvard University

Monday, Oct. 31
“Emulsions and Foams”
Science Center Lecture Hall C, 7 p.m.
Ángel León, (@chefdelmar), Restaurant Aponiente

Monday, Nov. 7
“Delicious Decomposition: Tales from the Cheese Caves of France”
Science Center Lecture Hall C, 7 p.m.
Sister Noella Marcellino, Ph.D., Abbey of Regina Laudis, artisanal cheesemaker and microbiologist who studied the biodiversity of cheese-ripening fungi in France; featured in Netflix documentary series "Cooked," based on Michael Pollan's book "Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation"
Mateo Kehler, co-founder and manager of Jaseper Hill Farm and Caves, Greensboro, Vt.

Monday, Nov. 28
Science Center Lecture Hall B, 7 p.m.
Mario Batali, (@Mariobatali), Chef, Author, Entrepreneur, Philanthropist
Tickets will be available on Wednesday, Nov. 23 starting at noon. There will be limited availability. Ticket reservations are only offered online at www.boxoffice.harvard.edu; there will be no window or phone distribution for this event. Tickets are free; a handling fee of $2.50 will apply. There is a limit of two tickets per person. All reservations are "will call" only with ticket pick up on the day of the event, starting at 5:30 p.m. at the venue. Tickets are valid until 6:45 p.m. on Nov. 28, then admission will be granted on a first-come, first-served basis.

The Harvard College Course

The Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and the Alícia Foundation developed the General Education science course, “Science and Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to the Science of Soft Matter,” which debuted in the fall of 2010. The course uses food and cooking to explicate fundamental principles in applied physics and engineering. (Watch a video about the course.)

While limited to currently enrolled Harvard undergraduates, the class, which  brings together eminent Harvard researchers and world-class chefs, is available to others on-campus through the Harvard Extension School and online through the HarvardX platform (details below).


  • Michael Brenner, Glover Professor of Applied Mathematics and Applied Physics and Professor of Physics; Harvard College Professor
  • Pia Sörensen, Preceptor in Science and Cooking
  • David Weitz, Mallinckrodt Professor of Physics and Applied Physics

Lab Design/Implementation

  • Pere Castells, Unitat UB-Bullipèdia

Science and Cooking on HarvardX

In HarvardX’s “Science & Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to Soft Matter Science,” top chefs and Harvard researchers explore how everyday cooking and haute cuisine techniques illuminate scientific principles in physics, chemistry, biology, and engineering.  What topics can participants expect to cover in part two of the new course, which opens May 17?

  • How cooking changes food texture
  • Making emulsions and foams
  • Phase changes in cooking

Find out more and sign up for part two of “Science & Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to Soft Matter Science.”  Learners can also sign up for part one of the course, which launched in January. 

Science and Cooking at Harvard Extension School

A version of “Science and Cooking” will be offered for credit through the Harvard Extension School in Spring 2017. Registered students will have access to the expertise and support of Harvard teaching staff, and will participate in an on-campus weekend in our cooking lab.