2021 Chef Lecture Series

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

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

New online course

2021 Science and Cooking Series celebrates culinary techniques to unlock flavors

Popular series pairs Harvard professors with chefs and food experts


WC: 766

This year’s Science and Cooking Public Lecture Series celebrates culinary techniques to unlock flavors, ranging from Noma’s edge-cutting fermentation to Bryan Furman’s BBQ to Amanda Cohen’s way of making plant-based charcuterie.

The 2021 series marks the return to the in-person format and brings to Harvard’s Science Center chefs, Harvard professors, and Science and Cooking enthusiasts.

New presenters this year include Tracy Chang (PAGU, Boston), Amanda Cohen (Dirt Candy, New York), Bryan Furman (Bryan Furman BBQ, Atlanta), Alexandra Whisnant (gâté comme des filles, Somerville) as well as returning favorites Harold McGee, Dave Arnold, Joanne Chang, Wylie Dufresne, Ted Russin, and Maya Warren. 

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”. 

  • The lectures are free and open to the public 
  • Mondays 7 p.m. EST, with a few exceptions (see schedule)
  • All talks will take place in the Harvard Science Center (1 Oxford St., Cambridge, Mass., Hall C) 
  • Masks are required, hand sanitizer will be available, physically distanced seating available upon request if email or IG message before 4 pm Mondays  
  • Contact: science_cooking@seas.harvard.edu
  • Lectures will be streamed live to Instagram (@scicookharvard)

2021 Chef Lecture Dates

Monday 6th September 

"Miracles of Moisture Management"

  • Dave Arnold (@cookingissues), Booker and Dax, author of "Liquid Intelligence," host of "Cooking Issues," founder of the Museum of Food and Drink 
  • Harold McGee (@mcgee.onfood.onsmells), author of "On Food and Cooking," "Curious Cook," "Nose Dive: A Field Guide to the World's Smells"


Monday, Sept. 13 

"The Science of Sugar" 

  • Joanne Chang ’91 (@jbchang), Flour Bakery and Café, Myers + Chang, Cambridge&BOston, MA, author of “Flour”, “Flour Too”, “Myers + Chang at Home”, and “Baking With Less Sugar” 


Tuesday, Sept. 21* 12-1.15 pm (Virtual presentation only; join us on Instagram Live @scicookharvard, recording will be posted)

“Fermentation: A Springboard for Modern Gastronomy” 

  • Jason White (@teamsilent), Director of Fermentation at NOMA, Copenhagen, Denmark  


Monday, Sept. 27  

"The Science of Hand Pulled Noodles"

  • Tracy Chang  (@gopagu), Pagu Restaurant, Cambridge, MA


Monday, Oct 11 

“FOOLING THE EYE, TRICKING THE TONGUE: Breaking Flavor Associations with Vegetables”

  • Amanda Cohen (@dirtcandynyc), Dirt Candy, New York, NY


Monday, Oct. 18                               

“Thermo Dynamics of BBQ”

  • Bryan Furman (@bs_pitmaster), Pitmaster, Bryan Furman BBQ, B's Cracklin Barbecue, Chef in Residence at Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture
**please note that this lecture will take place outside and will feature small tastes. Location: LISE Patio just outside LISE Café (11 Oxford Street, Cambridge), to find it from our regular lecture hall: walk out of the *north entrance* of the Science Center and follow the footpath north ~150 ft.


Monday, Oct. 25 

“Chocolate Techniques: From Tempering to Ganache”

  • Alexandra Whisnant (@gatecommedesfilles), chocolatier, gâté comme des filles, Somerville, MA


Monday, Nov. 1

This lecture has been postponed to Nov 29th


Monday, Nov. 15

  • Wylie Dufresne (@WylieDufresne), Du’s Donuts & Coffee, BK, Stretch Pizza, formerly wd~50
  • Ted Russin (@CIACulinarySci) School of Culinary Science and Nutrition, Culinary Institute of America


Monday, Nov. 29

"The Sciene of Ice Cream"

  • Dr. Maya Warren (@maya.warren), Ice Cream Scientist, International Ice Cream/Frozen Aerated Dessert Consultant 


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


Gastronomy Solutions


1933 Signature

Brod and Taylor logo   Shimadzu logo  MRSEC



 Science and Cooking: 

Physics Meets Food, From Homemade to Haute Cuisine

Order now! (see retailers below)

Preorder now

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.

Find "Science and Cooking" in any of these retailers or in your preferred local independent store: