Science & Cooking

A collaboration between eminent Harvard researchers and world-class chefs

The past two decades have seen a steady stream of culinary creativity from chefs like Ferran Adria in Spain and Heston Blumenthal in England. These chefs have been inspired by a wide range of sources, especially new technological advances.

The field of soft matter science has also flourished over the past several decades, as physicists seek to explain many of the common materials in our everyday lives.

Recently, a dialogue between these two groups has led to a new wave of innovation. Some examples include Ferran Adria and the Alicia Foundation, José Andres and the ThinkFoodGroup, Nathan Myhrvold and the team at Modernist Cuisine, Wylie Dufresne and Dave Arnold, and David Chang with Harvard microbiologist Rachel Dutton. 

The Science and Cooking class is a General Education course at Harvard that presents an overview of soft matter physics, paired with chefs to demonstrate recipes that highlight each concept.

At the end of the course students conduct culinary experiments, which they present in a fair at the end of the semester. In tandem with the class lectures, the visiting chefs give public lectures about their cooking technique and philosophy.

The Course

The Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and the Alícia Foundation developed a 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.)

Limited to currently enrolled Harvard undergraduates, the class brings together eminent Harvard researchers and world-class chefs.

Instructors

  • Michael Brenner (Glover Professor of Applied Mathematics and Applied Physics)
  • David Weitz (Mallinckrodt Professor of Physics and Applied Physics
  • Pia Sörensen (Preceptor of Science and Cooking)

Lab Design/Implementation

  • Pere Castells, Alícia Foundation
  • Héloïse Vilaseca, Alícia Foundation (Lab Director)

Public Lecture Series

Inspired by the Harvard College General Education course “Science and Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to the Science of Soft Matter," members of the public are invited to attend a series of lectures by world-class chefs and food experts. The lectures, while related, are not a replication of the course content.

Sponsors

We are grateful to our sponsors who help make the public lecture series possible.