Harvard lecture series on science and cooking returns in September

The immensly popular Science & Cooking public lecture series offered by Harvard will return on September 6. Seating last year was on a first come, first serve basis, and apparently many talks were full hours before they started. So be warned if you plan to attend in person. Luckily the classes are filmed and are freely available via Youtube and iTunes. This year’s schedule has some topics/speakers from last year as well as a couple of new ones. Just like last year, the public lecture series is given alongside the course “Science and Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to the Science of Soft Matter” which is reserved for currently enrolled Harvard students. The course is a joint effort of The Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (“SEAS”) and the Alí­cia Foundation.

The lecture schedule for the 2011 fall semester is as follows (exact dates and locations here):

  1. 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 Kitchen and columnist for The New York Times) and David Weitz (Mallinckrodt Professor of Physics and of Applied Physics at Harvard)
  2. Sous-vide Cooking: Phases of Matter. Speaker: Joan Roca (El Celler de Can Roca).
  3. Heat and Temperature Flux in Chocolate. Speaker: Ramon Morató (Aula Chocovic)
  4. Viscosity and Thickeners. Speaker: Carles Tejedor (Via Veneto), Fina Puigdevall and Pere Planagumí  (les Coles)
  5. Food Texture and Mouth Feel. Speaker: Grant Achatz (Alinea)
  6. Gelation. Speaker: José Andrés (ThinkFoodGroup, minibar, Jaleo).
  7. Emulsions: Traditional and New Emulsions. Speaker: Nandu Jubany (Can Jubany) and Carles Gaig (Fonda Gaig).
  8. Proteins & Enzymes: Transglutaminase. Speaker: Wylie Dufresne (wd~50).
  9. Browning Reactions: Culinary Examples. Speaker: Carme Ruscalleda (Sant Pau, Sant Pau de Tí²quio).
  10. Molecular Differences Between Production Methods. Speaker: Dan Barber (Blue Hill).
  11. (Title to Come) Speaker: David Chang (momofuku)
  12. 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)
  13. Dessert. Speaker: Bill Yosses (White House)
  14. Technology and Cooking. Speaker: Ferran Adrií  (elBulli)

Below is the 2010 schedule for comparison. Remember that all of these are available on Youtube and iTunes!

  1. Science and Cooking: A Dialogue. Speakers: Harold McGee, Ferran Adria (elBulli), José Andrés (minibar by josé andrés, Jaleo, The Bazaar) with commentary/moderation from Professors David Weitz and Michael Brenner (Harvard).
  2. Sous-vide Cooking: a State of Matter. Speaker: Joan Roca (El Celler de Can Roca).
  3. Brain Candy: How Desserts Slow the Passage of Time. Speaker: Bill Yosses (White House Pastry Chef).
  4. Olive Oil & Viscosity. Speaker: Carles Tejedor (Via Veneto).
  5. Heat, Temperature, & Chocolate. Speaker: Enric Rovira.
  6. Reinventing Food Texture & Flavor. Speaker: Grant Achatz (Alinea).
  7. Emulsions: Concept of Stabilizing Oil &Water. Speaker: Nandu Jubany (Can Jubany).
  8. Gelation. José Andrés (ThinkFoodGroup, minibar, Jaleo).
  9. Browning & Oxidations. Carme Ruscalleda (Sant Pau, Sant Pau de Tí²quio).
  10. Meat Glue Mania. Wylie Dufresne (wd~50).
  11. Cultivating Flavor: A Recipe for the Recipe. Dan Barber (Blue Hill).
  12. Creative Ceilings: How We Use Errors, Failure and Physical Limitations as Catalysts for Culinary Innovation. David Chang (momofuku).


  1. I wonder if they will use the same translators for some of the chefs. Watching some of the videos, I became really bored after trying to keep up with some of the chefs’ translators. Overall, the initial series was wonderful. Maybe the returning chefs will change their presentations up a bit?

    One of my goals this summer actually is to transcribe ideas, recipes, etc from each of the lectures, since a written form would be much easier to use in the kitchen than a video. I’ve already done Grant Achatz’s presentation and will post it soon.

  2. Thanks for posting about this! I didn’t know about these lectures before, but I’ve been watching some of last year’s talks and enjoying them very much. After reading your post, I tried to spread the word about them on my blog too: http://www.ungraduatedcylinder.com

    I’m also a scientist with a love of cooking, so I appreciate everything you’ve been doing on Khymos. Thanks!

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