Science and Cooking: Physics Meets Food, From Homemade to Haute Cuisine

HarvardX course "Food Fermentation: The Science of Cooking with Microbes".

New online course

2022 Science and Cooking Lecture Series Celebrates Worldwide Culinary Techniques and Flavors

Popular series pairs Harvard Professors with Chefs and Food Experts


Harvard Science and Cooking Public Lecture Series returns this 2022. New presenters this year include Arielle Johnson, Ph.D. (Flavor Scientist, Co-founder of the Noma Fermentation Lab), Chintan Pandya (Chef and Partner of Unapologetic Foods), Fatmata Binta (Chef of “Dine on a Mat” and Founder of Fulani Kitchen Projects), Kate Strangfeld (Founder of Bite Scized Education), Sean Sherman (Founder of The Sioux Chef) or Eduard Xatrutch (Chef at Disfrutar and Compartir), Pia Leon (Chef and Co-owner of Kjolle, Central, Mayo, MIL, Ichu) and Malena Martinez (Co-Director of Mater Iniciativa, Central); as well as returning favorites Harold McGee, Dave Arnold, Bryan Furman and Joanne Chang.

The lectures pair Harvard professors with celebrated food experts and renowned chefs to showcase the science behind different culinary techniques.

The series, organized by Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) is based on the Harvard course “Science and Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to the Science of Soft Matter”.

  • All talks will be on Mondays at 7 pm E.S.T. and will take place in the Harvard Science Center (1 Oxford St., Cambridge, MA., Hall C), except Bryan Furman’s lecture, which will be outdoors at the LISE Patio (11 Oxford St, Cambridge)
  • Each presentation will begin with a 15-minute lecture about the scientific topics from that week’s class by a faculty member from the Harvard course
  • The lectures are free and open to the public
  • Seating for all lectures is first come, first seated
  • Lectures will be streamed live to Instagram (@scicookharvard)
  • Contact:

2022 Chef Lecture Dates


Monday, Sept 5

Science Center Hall C, 7PM
"Closed Labs, Open Kitchens: Research From the Pandemic"
Dave Arnold (@CookingIssues), Booker and Dax (NYC), author of "Liquid Intelligence", host of "Cooking Issues," founder of the Museum of Food and Drink
Harold McGee (@Harold_McGee), author of "On Food and Cooking", "Curious Cook", “Nose Dive: A Field Guide to the World's Smells”

Monday, Sept. 12

Science Center Hall C, 7PM
"The Science of Sugar"
Joanne Chang '91 (@jbchang), Flour Bakery and Café (Cambridge, MA) , Myers + Chang, author of “Flour”, “Flour Too”, “Myers + Chang at Home”, and “Baking with Less Sugar”

Monday, Sept. 19

Science Center Hall C, 7PM
“Flavor and Fermentation”
Arielle Johnson, Ph.D. (@arielle_johnson) Flavor Scientist, Gastronomy and Innovation Researcher, Co-founder of the Noma Fermentation Lab

Monday, Sept 26

Science Center Hall C, 7 PM
“Unapologetic Indian: Elasticity in Indian Food”
Chintan Pandya
(@chefchintan) Chef and Partner of Unapologetic foods including Dhamaka, Adda, and Semma (NYC)

Monday, Oct. 3

Science Center Hall C, 7 PM
“The Science of Sun-drying in Nomadic Food Traditions”
Fatmata Binta
(@chef_binta) Chef of “Dine on a Mat” and Founder of Fulani Kitchen Projects (Accra, Ghana)

Monday, Oct. 10

Science Center Hall C, 7 PM
“Teaching Science and Cooking for K-12 Educators: Chemical Reactions through Ricotta and Brown Butter”*
Kate Strangfeld
(@kate_cooks, @bitescizededucation), Founder of Bite Scized Education, Former Middle School Science and Chemistry Teacher, Washington International School

*This is a special session for teachers, educators, or anyone who is interested in using food to teach science

Monday, Oct. 17

LISE Patio, 7 PM
“The Thermodynamics of BBQ”
Bryan Furman
(@bs_pitmaster), 2019 & 2020 James Beard Semifinalist, The first Pitmaster to win F&W Best New Chef (class of 2019), Chef in Residency @ Stone Barnes Center for Food & Agriculture

Monday, Oct. 24

Science Center Hall C, 7 PM
“The (R)evolution of Indigenous Foodways”
Sean Sherman
(@the_sioux_chef), Chef, Founder of The Sioux Chef, Co-Founder of NĀTIFS (North American Traditional Indigenous Food Systems), Co-Owner of Owamni by The Sioux Chef

Monday, Oct. 31

Science Center Hall C, 7 PM
“New Textures. Multi-Spheriphications, Emulsions and Foams”
Eduard Xatruch
(@disfrutarbcn), Chef and Co-owner of Disfrutar (Barcelona, Spain)

Monday, Nov. 14

Science Center Hall C, 7PM
“The Science of Hand Pulled Noodles”
Tracy Chang
(@gopagu), Pagu Restaurant (Cambridge, MA)

Monday, Nov. 28

Science Center Hall C, 7PM
“The Science of Peruvian Cooking”
Pia Leon
(@pialeonkjolle) Chef and Co-owner of Kjolle, Central (Lima, Perú), MIL (Cusco, Perú), World's Best Female Chef of 2021
Malena Martinez (@malenamater) Co-Director of Mater Iniciativa, Central (Lima, Peru)

The Harvard College Course

The Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and the Alícia Foundation developed the 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 a video about the course.)

While limited to currently enrolled Harvard undergraduates, the class, which brings together eminent Harvard researchers and world-class chefs, is available to others on-campus through the Harvard Extension School and online through the HarvardX platform (details below).


  • Michael Brenner, Michael F. Cronin Professor of Applied Mathematics and Applied Physics and Professor of Physics; Harvard College Professor
  • Pia Sörensen, Senior Preceptor in Chemical Engineering and Applied Materials
  • David Weitz, Mallinckrodt Professor of Physics and Applied Physics

Lecture Coordinator

  • Julia Espeso Bischofberger

Lab Design/Implementation

  • Pere Castells, President Science and Coking World Congress Barcelona

Science and Cooking on HarvardX

In HarvardX’s “Science & Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to Soft Matter Science,” top chefs and Harvard researchers explore how everyday cooking and haute cuisine techniques illuminate scientific principles in physics, chemistry, biology, and engineering. Both part 1 and part 2 of the online course are currently open for enrollment.

The online course “Food Fermentations: The Science of Cooking with Microbes”  explores the role of microbes in food production, from history to preservation to flavor.

STEAMeD Teacher Workshops

STEAMeD adapts exercises from the popular Science and Cooking course and Young Chefs to fit Massachusetts state science standards. It is a rare opportunity for highly motivated teachers to bring these exercises into their classrooms. Teachers, community program instructors, and after school program leaders are invited to register. More information is available on the STEAMeD website, where future workshops will also be announced


We are grateful to our sponsors


Science and Cooking World Congress

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 Science and Cooking: 

Physics Meets Food, From Homemade to Haute Cuisine

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Science and Cook book cover

Based on the popular Harvard University and edX course, Science and Cooking explores the scientific basis of why recipes work.

The spectacular culinary creations of modern cuisine are the stuff of countless articles and social media feeds. But to a scientist they are also perfect pedagogical explorations into the basic scientific principles of cooking. In Science and Cooking, Harvard professors Michael Brenner, Pia Sörensen, and David Weitz bring the classroom to your kitchen to teach the physics and chemistry underlying every recipe.

Why do we knead bread? What determines the temperature at which we cook a steak, or the amount of time our chocolate chip cookies spend in the oven? Science and Cooking answers these questions and more through hands-on experiments and recipes from renowned chefs such as Christina Tosi, Joanne Chang, and Wylie Dufresne, all beautifully illustrated in full color. With engaging introductions from revolutionary chefs and collaborators Ferran Adria and José Andrés, Science and Cooking will change the way you approach both subjects―in your kitchen and beyond.

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