lundi 28 janvier 2013

From our friends in NYC

Experimental Cuisine Collective
Experimental Cuisine Collective
February 2013 meeting no. 1
Upcoming ECC Events
Visit our website to see dates and speakers as we schedule them for 2012-2013 and add them to your calendar.

Dates and topics for spring 2013 are now posted! Our next meeting will be February 25, 2013. 

Quick Links...
Hello all,
We hope that the year has started well for you and look forward to seeing you at our 2013 meetings! As you noticed, we did not meet in January, but will have two presentations in February: on the 4th and 25th.   

Our first February ECC meeting will take place on Monday, February 4, from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Chemistry Department at NYU, room 1003 (31 Washington Place, between Washington Square Park and Greene Street). You will need a photo ID to enter the building.    

Dr. Ole Mourtisen, of MEMPHYS--Center for Biomembrane Physics at the University of Southern Denmark, will present Deliciousness and the Science Behind It. Use of the term umami to describe the sensation of deliciousness in food is finding its way into the Western culinary vocabulary. Umami is now ranked as a fifth basic taste along with the four classical tastes: salty, sour, sweet, and bitter. Dr. Mouritsen will review the concept of umami and deliciousness in a historical, evolutionary, and scientific context and describe recent advances in the understanding of the sensory perception of umami and the involved taste receptors. The unique molecular mechanism behind umami sensation is now partly understood as an allosteric (synergetic) action of glutamate and certain 5'-ribonucleotides on the umami receptors, and it explains why certain pairs of foodstuff taste delicious, e.g., eggs with bacon, meat with vegetables, and konbu with katsuobushi. Home and professional cooks and chefs across the world are more or less unknowingly exploiting this synergy in preparing delicious meals. As a specific example, Dr. Mouritsen will describe experimental work with chefs on producing dashi and umami flavor from Nordic seaweeds (you can read a recent paper about that work in Flavour).

Please RSVP at A link is also posted on our website. If you RSVP and can no longer make it, please let me know right away so that your seat can be released---thank you! 

All my best,


Anne E. McBride
Director, Experimental Cuisine Collective 

The Experimental Cuisine Collective is a working group that assembles scholars, scientists, chefs, writers, journalists, performance artists, and food enthusiasts. We launched in April 2007, as a result of the collaboration of Kent Kirshenbaum of the chemistry department and Amy Bentley of the nutrition, food studies, and public health department at New York University with Chef Will Goldfarb of WillPowder. Our overall aim is to develop a broad-based and rigorous academic approach that employs techniques and approaches from both the humanities and sciences to examine the properties, boundaries, and conventions of food.

Visit the ECC online at 
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Experimental Cuisine Collective | New York University | 35 W. 4th Street | New York | NY | 10012

jeudi 24 janvier 2013

We shall not confuse young people !

If we have the possibility, shouldn't we be fair and honest ? Shouldn't we say the truth to young people who decide for their lives on what we tell them ?

Today, I received an email containing this :

I am a culinary student in Pittsburgh, PA USA. I stopped attending my pastry program to study science and mathematics at a 4 year institution to learn why is baking called a science. 

 My answer was obvious : 

I don't understand what you write, when you say "I stopped attending a pastry program to study science in an institution to lear why is baking called a science".
Indeed the word "science" is ambiguous, because exact sciences are not the same as other "knowledges".
Yes, one can speak of the "science of the pastry chef", of the "science of shoe maker", but this knowledge has nothing to do with the science done by chemists, physicists and biologists, for example (including molecular gastronomy in this group... as it should not be confused with "molecular cuisine").
For "nature sciences", or "natural philosophy" as it was called, the job is to use the "scientific method" in order to discover the mechanisms of phenomena.
The scientific method ?
1. observe a phenomenon
2. make quantitative measurements of it
3. link all data in synthetic laws
4. look for mechanisms explaining such laws ; the group of found mechanisms will make a model, or a theory
5. look for consequences  (predictions) of your theory
6. make an experiment in order to refute the theory, and go back to 2 and subs for ever.

You seek, making a bread or a cake has nothing to do with this ! 

mardi 8 janvier 2013

A seminar in Nantes (or around)

Nous avons le plaisir de vous informer que notre prochain atelier "SCIENCES & CUISINE" se tiendra le
Lundi 11 février 2013 de 16h00 à 18h30,
au Manoir de La Boulaie, à Haute Goulaine.(Manoir de la Boulaie, 33 rue de la chapelle Saint Martin 44115 Haute Goulaine - plan d'accès)

A l'honneur : Les légumes méconnus.
Olivier Durand, Maraicher aux Sorinières, Ludovic Poulzegues, chef du restaurant Lulu Rouget, Jean Yves Peron, enseignant chercheur à l'INH Angers, et notre hôte, Laurent Saudeau, chef du Manoir de La Boulaie,  uniront leurs savoirs et savoir-faire pour lever le voile sur les mystères des légumes méconnus, et sur le dicton suivant.
20130107-banniere-legumes"On dit que le blanchiement enlèverait l'acidité ou l'acreté des légumes"
Nous terminerons cet atelier par un apéritif convivial.
La participation aux frais est de 12 € à payer sur place par chèque. Des justificatifs vous seront fournis sur demande.
La capacité d'accueil étant limitée, pensez à RESERVER RAPIDEMENT votre place en vous inscrivant sur le site internet ou en envoyant un mail à

En espérant vous voir nombreux !
L'équipe organisatrice : Camille BOURGEOIS - PONAN, Ludivine BILLY et Vincent LAFAYE - FOOD DEVELOPMENT vous souhaite une excellente année 2013!
 bat basse def


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en suivant ce lien.

mardi 1 janvier 2013

About the expansion of popovers

Received today  

The question is: How to make popovers rise to the maximum.Here is a recipe from a flour company that is suppose to work, but the results are erratic.
xxxx, chemistry professor

And here is my answer : 
Dear Colleague
thanks for this. Indeed, years (decades!) ago, I published an article in the Chemical intelligencer, about popovers. The main point is evaporating water, because 1 g of water is about 1 L of steam ! And obviously, it's better making the steam by the bottom of the ramequin !
All is said here, and the answer is the same for soufflés, and all culinary preparations which have to expand during cooking !
One hint more : as a 100 g soufflé is loosing 10 g during cooking, one can make 10 L of soufflé ! Of course, some is lost, but if you make first a crust on top, you keep the steam and get a better expansion.
Celebrate the science of chemistry, and molecular gastronomy in particular.
Happy New Year