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News & Events

Science & Cooking lecture series returns to Harvard on September 6

Public talks for 2011 feature world-class chefs and exciting demos that blend state-of-the-art science with culinary artistry

World-famous chef Ferran Adrià demonstrated one of his signature techniques, spherification, at last year's Science & Cooking public lecture series.

Cambridge, Mass. – June 21, 2011 – Inspired by one of the most talked-about Harvard College courses in recent history, “Science and Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to the Science of Soft Matter," the Science & Cooking public lecture series will return on September 6.

Members of the general public are once again invited to attend talks by world-class chefs and eminent food experts, including Grant Achatz, José Andrés, Ferran Adrià, Harold McGee, and Dan Barber.

The lectures and demonstrations do not replicate the course content but are meant to inform and inspire.

The kickoff event on Tuesday, September 6, features Dave Arnold (Food Arts magazine's Contributing Editor for Equipment and Food Science), Harold McGee (author of On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen and columnist for The New York Times) and David Weitz (Mallinckrodt Professor of Physics and of Applied Physics at Harvard and co-creator of the course).

The public lecture series runs through the end of the fall semester. A full schedule is available online:

For those who cannot attend in person, videos of the lectures will be made available online. An archive of past talks (from fall 2010) is available on iTunes U and YouTube.

The course and popular public lecture series grew out of a collaboration between the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and the Alícia Foundation in Spain.

The course, which will be offered for the second time at Harvard College in the fall of 2011, uses food and cooking to explicate fundamental principles in applied physics and engineering.

Limited to currently enrolled Harvard undergraduates, the debut class in 2010 attracted nearly 700 students for a mere 300 seats and garnered international media attention, including coverage in The New York Times, 60 Minutes, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and Physics World.

To blend haute cuisine with laboratory research, chefs and food experts teach alongside Harvard faculty members. In addition to lectures and readings, lab work is an integral part of the course, and students perform experiments on topics including heat transfer, viscosity and elasticity, and crystallization and entropy. (Watch a video about the course.)

Last year’s course culminated in an “edible science fair.” Students joined chefs around the world in tackling real food industry challenges, such as the demand for better gluten-free pasta and fat-free ice cream. Others applied their scientific and engineering know-how to create wild culinary innovations like glow-in-the-dark gummy bears, hot ice cream, and noodles made entirely of Parmesan cheese.

In recognition of their fundamental contributions to the course and their ongoing teaching roles, Adrià and McGee were recently appointed visiting lecturers at SEAS.

Notable new guest lecturers for 2011 include Nathan Myhrvold, former CTO of Microsoft and noted food author, and Catalan chef Carles Gaig of Fonda Gaig.

Lecture Schedule

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Historical Context and Demos Illustrating the Relationship of Food and Science

  • Speakers: Dave Arnold (Food Arts magazine's Contributing Editor for Equipment & Food Science), Harold McGee (author of On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchenand columnist for The New York Times) and David Weitz (Mallinckrodt Professor of Physics and of Applied Physics at Harvard)

  • Location: TBD

Monday, September 12, 2011

Sous-vide Cooking: Phases of Matter

  • Speaker: Joan Roca (El Celler de Can Roca)

  • Location: Science Center C

Monday, September 19, 2011

Heat and Temperature Flux in Chocolate

  • Speaker: Ramon Morató (Aula Chocovic)

  • Location: Science Center C

Monday, September 26, 2011

Viscosity and Thickeners

  • Speaker: Carles Tejedor (Via Veneto), Fina Puigdevall and Pere Planagumà (les Coles)

  • Location: Science Center C

Monday, October 3, 2011

Food Texture and Mouth Feel

  • Speaker: Grant Achatz (Alinea)

  • Location: Science Center C

Monday, October 10, 2011


  • Speaker: José Andrés (ThinkFoodGroup, minibar, Jaleo)

  • Location: Science Center B

Monday, October 17, 2011

Emulsions: Traditional and New Emulsions

  • Speaker: Nandu Jubany (Can Jubany) and Carles Gaig (Fonda Gaig)

  • Location: Science Center C

Monday, October 24, 2011

Proteins & Enzymes: Transglutaminase

  • Speaker: Wylie Dufresne (wd~50)

  • Location: Science Center D

Monday, October 31, 2011

Browning Reactions: Culinary Examples

  • Speaker: Carme Ruscalleda (Sant Pau, Sant Pau de Tòquio)
  • Location: Science Center C

Monday, November 7, 2011

Molecular Differences Between Production Methods

  • Speaker: Dan Barber (Blue Hill)

  • Location: Science Center C

Monday, November 14, 2011

Title to Come

  • Speaker: David Chang (momofuku)

  • Location: Science Center C

Monday, November 21, 2011

Heat Transfer

  • Speaker: Nathan Myhrvold (former Microsoft CTO; co-founder and CEO of Intellectual Ventures; and author of Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking)

  • Location: Science Center C

Monday, November 28, 2011


  •  Speaker: Bill Yosses (White House)
  • Location: Science Center C

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Technology and Cooking

  • Speaker: Ferran Adrià (elBulli)

  • Tickets Requiredthrough the Harvard Box Office. More information will follow.

  • Location: TBD

Topics: Cooking, Applied Physics