Culinary Physics Lecture Series


"Culinary Physics" Lecture Series

Science & Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to Soft Matter Science
by Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Science.

Through cooking you can learn a lot about science—and vice versa. If you'd like to know more about how recipes work, as well as basic physics and engineering principles, this lecture series is for you.

Science & Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to Soft Matter Science is a free online course taught by Harvard professors and top chefs.

Improve your cooking skill! Do you want to learn more?, download the Science and Cooking: A Companion to the Harvard Course, please click here now... Science and Cooking.


This course is a collaboration between eminent Harvard researchers and world-class chefs. During the lecture series of the course, you will watch as chefs reveal the secrets behind some of their most famous culinary creations — often right in their own restaurants. Inspired by such cooking mastery, the Harvard team will then explain, in simple and sophisticated ways, the science behind the recipe.

The Science and Cooking Public Lectures were a popular series of lectures presented through the Harvard University School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Now it's available online for everyone to watch.

This public lecture series discusses concepts from the physical sciences that underpin both everyday cooking and haute cuisine. Each lecture features a world-class chef who visited and presented their remarkable culinary designs.  The introductory lecture features Harold McGee (author of On Food and Cooking), who talks about the history of using science in cooking up through current techniques in molecular gastronomy. That first session also includes a lecture and demonstration by Spanish chefs Ferran Adria - considered one of the "best chefs in the world" and head chef at elBulli - and José Andés, who was trained by Adria and now has several restaurants in the Washington DC area.

Ferran Adria presented spherification (the culinary technique pioneered by Ferran Adrià); Jose Andres discussed both the basic components of food and gelation; Joan Roca demonstrated sous vide; Enric Rovira showed his chocolate delicacies; Wylie Dufresne presented inventions with transglutaminase. Topics will include: soft matter materials, such as emulsions, illustrated by aioli; elasticity, exemplified by the done-ness of a steak; and diffusion.

The lectures then use these culinary creations as inspiration to delve into understanding how and why cooking techniques and recipes work, focusing on the physical transformations of foods and material properties.



Michael Brenner (Faculty lead)
David Weitz (Faculty lead)
Pia Sörensen (Preceptor)

Lab Design/Implementation

Pere Castells, Unitat UB-Bullipèdia

Michael Brenner
Michael Brenner is the Glover Professor of Applied Mathematics and Applied Physics, and Harvard College Professor at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. He developed the popular Harvard class, "Science and Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to the Science of Soft Matter," with his colleague David Weitz and chef Ferran Adrià. His research uses mathematics to examine a wide variety of problems in science and engineering, ranging from understanding the shapes of bird beaks, whale flippers and fungal spores, to finding the principles for designing materials that can assemble themselves, to answering ordinary questions about daily life, such as why a droplet of fluid splashes when it collides with a solid surface.

David Weitz
David Weitz is a Professor of Physics and Applied Physics, at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the Department of Physics. He developed the popular Harvard class, "Science and Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to the Science of Soft Matter," with his colleague Michael Brenner and chef Ferran Adrià. His research group studies the science of soft matter materials as well as biophysics and biotechnology.

Pia Sörensen
Pia Sörensen is Preceptor of Science and Cooking at the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard University, and the HarvardX Fellow for Science & CookingX. She earned her PhD in Chemical Biology at Harvard University, studying small molecule inhibitors of cell division.

Ferran Adrià
Culinary Advisor: Ferran Adrià was the chef and owner of restaurant elBulli in Roses, Spain, the only restaurant to have been voted number one in the world a record five times by the World’s 50 best restaurant list. He is founder of the elBulli Foundation, a creative initiative intended to keep pushing the limits of culinary invention. His books include: A day at elBulliModern Gastronomy A to Z, and other books.

Pere Castells
Culinary Advisor: Pere Castells is a chemist, teacher, and former head of the Alícia Foundation’s Scientific Research Department in Barcelona, Spain. He is currently coordinating the research project UB-Bullipèdia with the elBulli Foundation.

Daniel Rosenberg
Science Demo Guru: Daniel Rosenberg of Harvard University is the master mind behind the science demos in the course.

Harold McGee
Culinary Expert: Harold McGee is an expert on the chemistry, technique, and history of food, and will appear regularly, sharing his insights on these topics. He is the author of many books and articles, including the textbook for the course: On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen.

Nathan Myhrvold
Culinary Expert: Nathan Myhrvold is the principal author of the five volume cookbook Modernist Cuisine, Modernist Cuisine at Home and author of the forthcoming The Photography of Modernist Cuisine

Students of SPU27X get a 20% discount on the ebook Modernist Cuisine at Home. Apply "SPU27X20" at check out. This discount is available until January 1, 2014.

Dan Souza
Culinary Expert: Dan Souza is a senior editor at Cook's Illustrated and cast member of the America's Test Kitchen television show. Dan developed the test kitchen experiments for The Science of Good Cooking. He will be a regular contributor to the course. Dan's twitter handle is @testcook.

José Andres
Chef: José Andres is  the founder of ThinkFood Group and chef and owner of several restaurants including Minibar, Jaleo and The Bazaar. His books include Made in Spain: Spanish Dishes for the American Kitchen and Tapas: A Taste of Spain in America.

Dave Arnold
Chef: Dave Arnold is chef and owner of the bar Booker and Dax in New York City. He is also the founder of the Museum of Food and Drink and writes on Culinary Technology developments in the blog Cooking Issues.

Dan Barber
Chef: Dan Barber is chef and co-owner of Blue Hill in New York City and Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills, NY. He serves on the President's Council on Physical Fitness, Sports and Nutrition and Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture's board of directors. Dan is the author of several talks and articles and the book The Third Plate (Spring 2014). Twitter: @danbarber

Joanne Chang
Chef: Joanne Chang is chef and owner of Flour Bakery and Myers + Chang in Boston, MA. She is the author of two books: Flour: Spectacular recipes from Boston’s Flour bakery + Café and Flour, Too: Indispensable Recipes for the Cafés Most Loved Sweets and Savories.

David Chang
Chef: David Chang is chef and owner of the Momofuku restaurant group, including the two Michelin starred Momfuku Ko in New York City. He is the author of Momofuku cookbook, Milk Bar Cookbook and other books, and also publishes the quarterly journal Lucky Peach Magazine.

Wylie Dufresne
Chef: Wylie Dufresne is chef and owner of the Michelin starred restaurant wd-50 and the gastropub Alder in New York City.

Nandu Jubany
Chef: Nandu Jubany is chef and owner of the Michelin starred restaurant Can Jubany in Vic, Spain.

Joan Roca
Chef: Joan Roca is chef and owner of restaurant El Celler de Can Roca, outside Girona, Spain. The restaurant, run in collaboration with his two brothers, Josep and Jordi Roca, was recently voted best restaurant in the world by the World’s 50 best restaurant list and has three Michelin stars. Books include Sous-Vide Cuisine and El Celler de Can Roca.

Enric Rovira
Chef: Enric Rovira, based in Barcelona, is one of Spain’s most celebrated Master Chocolatiers.

Carme Ruscalleda
Chef: Carme Ruscalleda is chef and owner of restaurants  Sant Pau in Sant Pol de Mar, Spain, Sant Pau de Tòquio, Japan, and Moments in Barcelona, Spain. The three restaurants have been awarded six Michelin stars combined. She is the author of CR20: 20 Years of the Sant Pau, Carme Ruscalleda’s Mediterranean Cuisine, and several other books.

Ted Russin
Ted Russin is the Director of Consulting at the Culinary Institute of America. A food chemist with culinary training. Ted has experience in both culinary and industrial food process and product design. He has collaborated with chefs such as Wylie Dufresne, Thomas Keller, and Corey Lee. His work has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, and in the Cooking Channel Special “Geek-A-Licious”.

Carles Tejedor
Chef: Carles Tejedor is the chef of restaurant Via Veneto in Barcelona, Spain. He is also the founder of Oilab, a virtual space devoted to research and development of culinary oil products.

Bill Yosses
Chef: Bill Yosses is White House Executive Pastry Chef in Washington, DC. He is the author of The Perfect Finish: Special Desserts for Every Occasion.

(You can bookmark this page and watch the other videos later)

1) Video Food and Science | Lecture 1 (2012)
Dave Arnold, Food Arts Harold McGee, New York Times September 4, 2012

2) Video Food and Science | Lecture 2 (2012)
Joan Roca and Jordi Roca, El Celler de Can Roca Salvador Brugués, Sous-Vide Cuisine September 10, 2012

3) Video How Phase Changes Cause: Deliciousness | Lecture 3 (2012)
Bill Yosses, White House Pastry Chef, September 17, 2012

4) Video Explorations of Chocolate Texture | Lecture 4 (2012)
Enric Rovira, Master Chocolatier, Ingrid Farre, Alicia Foundation September 24, 2012

5) Video Working with Modern Thickeners | Lecture 5 (2012)
Fina Puigdevall, Les Cols Pere Planagumà, Les Cols Paco Perez, Miramar Monday, October 1, 2012

6) Video The Science of Paella | Lecture 6 (2012)
Raül Balam Ruscalleda, Moments

7) Video Gelation and Heat Transfer | Lecture 7 (2012)
Jose Andres, Think Food Group, minibar, Jaleo October 15, 2012

8) Video Water, water everywhere: A Study in Texture | Lecture 8 (2012)
Wylie Dufresne, wd~50 Ted Russin, The Culinary Institute of America October 22, 2012

9) Video Bakistry: The Science of Sweets | Lecture 9 (2012)
Joanne Chang, Flour Bakery

10) Video The Science of Good Cooking | Lecture 10 (2012)
Jack Bishop, Editorial Director at Cook's Illustrated and an Editor on The Science of Good Cooking Dan Souza, Associate Editor of Cook's Illustrated

11) Video Modernist Cuisine at Home | Lecture 11 (2012)
Nathan Myhrvold, former Microsoft CTO; co-founder and CEO of Intellectual Ventures; and author of Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking

12) Video Microbes, Misos, and Olives | Lecture 12 (2012)
David Chang, momfuku Carles Tejedor, Via Veneto

The Harvard College 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 VIDEO BELOW: Chefs at Google: Nathan Myhrvold | "Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking"

Dr. Nathan Myhrvold is chief executive officer and a founder of Intellectual Ventures, a firm dedicated to creating and investing in inventions. In addition to stimulating the invention of others, Myhrvold is himself an active inventor, with nearly 250 patents issued or pending including several related to food technology. Before founding his invention company, Myhrvold was the first chief technology officer at Microsoft. He established Microsoft Research, and during his tenure he oversaw many advanced technology projects. He left Microsoft in 1999 to pursue several interests, including a life­long interest in cooking and food science.

Myhrvold competed on a team that won first place in several categories at the 1991 World Championship of Barbecue, including first prize in the special pasta category for a recipe that Myhrvold developed on the day of the contest.

After working for two years as a stagierat Seattle's top French restaurant, Rover's, Myhrvold completed culinary training with renowned chef Anne Willan at the Ecole De La Varenne. In addition, he has worked as Chief Gastronomic Officer for Zagat Survey, publisher of the popular Zagat restaurant guide books. Through his many visits to the world's top restaurants, Myhrvold has become personally acquainted with many of the leading Modernist chefs and the science-inspired cooking techniques they have pioneered.

Myhrvold is himself an accomplished practitioner of Modernist cuisine. He has contributed original research on cooking sous vide to online culinary forums, and his sous vide techniques have been covered in the New York Times Magazine, Wired, and PBS's "Gourmet's Diary of a Foodie" television series.

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