Copenhagen MG seminar: MG meets the internet (part 8)

(you can click through the entire presentation at the end of this post)

I really enjoyed taking part in the recent MG seminar in Copenhagen, and the greatest surprise was when I received a kind email from Michael Bom Frøst last year where he invited me to give a presentation on how molecular gastronomy has been communicated during the last couple of years. As many of you know the blog and my popular science activities are only a hobby, so it was a great honour indeed to present side by side with all the other people who spend whole days working on the subject. I arrived at the title “Molecular gastronomy meets the internet – Can blogs benefit popular food science?”. I started by looking at how Gartner’s hype cycle fits with the phenomena molecular gastronomy (I’ve touched briefly upon this before). To me the publication of Modernist Cuisine and the announced launches of the Flavour journal and the International Journal of Gastronomy and Food Science suggest that we are approaching the plateau of productivity (but not quite there yet – we’re still waiting for the actual launch of these journals). Furthermore molecular gastronomy is still perceived as less scientific. Few publishing channels integrate the scientific and practical aspects of molecular gastronomy, and in my presentation I argued that self publishing plays an important role. I focused primarily on blogs, but it’s interesting to note (without any further comparison!) that even Nathan Myhrvold turned to self publishing with Modernist Cuisine. To conclude the presentation, I shared some of my experiences as a blogger and encouraged the chefs and scientists present to start their own blogs. You may click through the slides from my presentation below:

(Sorry – for the moment you can’t click through the presentation)

Read more about the molecular gastronomy seminar held on March 2nd 2011 at the University of Copenhagen in the previous blog posts:

Molecular gastronomy seminar at the University of Copenhagen (part 1)
Copenhagen MG seminar: Flavor pairing (part 2)
Copenhagen MG seminar: Meat stock (part 3)
Copenhagen MG seminar: Complexity (part 4)
Copenhagen MG seminar: Playing with food (part 5)
Copenhagen MG seminar: Food and science fun (part 6)
Copenhagen MG seminar: Ice cold world record attempt (part 7)


  1. Congratulations (this time in public:) It’s interesting to see how this field, whether we call it Molecular gastronomy or something different, evolves through informal channels such as self-published material, blogs and newsgroups.

    It’d be interesting to have some opinions on two questions I’ve been pondering about:

    1) To what degree has MG or food science been affected by such informal channels/publishing? (is this real, or is it just bloggers beleiving that it is the case?)

    2) are there other fields of research that are being affected/driven by development through informal channels such as blogs etc.?

  2. Orges and fooducation: Thanks 🙂

    1) A timely question which I believe I’m not the right person to answer since I’m standing right here in the middle of the soup… But seriously: very little has been published in peer reviewed journals!

    2) Again – good question!

  3. On question 1): for my own sake, I can not say that and still feel confident. Although I get TOCs from a number of major food science journals, I haven’t got the time to follow them closely enough to really claim that very little is being published. If you compile every paper that can be classified as Molecular gastronomy the last 2-3 years, are we able to come up with a number? (and what percentage would that be of the total). It would, of course, depend on how you define MG

    On question 2): research on multiplayer gaming and other recent and popular phenomena might have taken on some unorthodox development patterns, perhaps?

  4. I totally agree there is too little scientific work in the field of molecular gastronomy. Some people are only eager to seek publicity. I am a physicist involved in food science, and approach food from viewpoint of soft matter physics. I gather this approach is much more fruitfull to fully understand cooking and food structuring. This approach gets scientific applaud, via the tens of scientific papers appearing in the high-impact journal Soft Matter.
    I do appreciate much some of the concepts devised by Herve This, namely the Complex Dispersed System (CDS) formalism – which I discussed in my review paper “The science of food structuring” (van der Sman, van der Goot, Soft Matter, 2009). Here we also discuss the state diagram to illustrate in a qualitative way what is happening in food structuring processes. CDS and state diagram can be usefull tools for the more practical people involved in MG. The state diagram of starch we have recently determined completely using theories from polymer physics (van der Sman, Meinders, Soft Matter,2011). These theories also apply to meat proteins, which I show in a recently submitted paper (to Food hydrocolloids), which is a followup paper of my earlier work on meat cooking (van der Sman, Meat Science, 2006; AIChe J., 2006). Currently, I am working on how CDS and state diagrams can be used for understanding expanded snacks.

    More and more food scientists, like Job Ubbink and Erik van der Linden, are following the soft matter approach. That is why in July 2012 a Faraday Discussion is organised in Wageningen on the topic of “Soft matter approaches to food structuring”. There matters will be discussed at a high scientific level, but may be of interest to the scientific inclined people in MG, like Peter Barham, Thomas Vilgis and Harold McGee. see

    If MG is to be more scientific, soft matter physics may provide a fruitfull way to do it !

  5. Ruud,

    very enlightening, thanks. I’ve had the pleasure of reading some of your publications, and often highly interesting publications appear in other journals than the classic food science journals. Of course, one might follow the authors rather than journals….

    It would be very interesting to have you expand on the statement “I gather this approach is much more fruitfull to fully understand cooking and food structuring”: more fruitful compared to what?

    Finally, from my point of view which is educational research, I agree that CDS is an interesting perspective. We teach students/pupils in chemistry classes that matter comes in three basic forms: liquids, gases and solids. However, the fact that most of the world is composed of dispersions is seldom mentioned in e.g. chemistry books. Previously I wrote a short post on this, but would like to pursue this in terms of educational research (curriculum analyses, textbook analyses, possible educational prospects etc.)

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