Science and Cooking 2017

Science and Cooking 2017

food dish with electrical wiring

The popular Science and Cooking lecture series returns this fall. The lecture series pairs Harvard professors with celebrated food experts and renowned chefs to showcase the science behind different culinary techniques.

Now in its seventh year, the series is organized by Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS).

The public lectures are based on the Harvard course “Science and Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to the Science of Soft Matter,” but do not replicate course content.

  • All talks will take place in the Harvard Science Center (1 Oxford St., Cambridge, Mass., Hall C) and begin at 7 p.m., unless otherwise noted
  • Doors will open at 6:30 p.m.
  • 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
  • Seating for all lectures is first come, first seated
  • The lectures are free and open to the public

If you have questions regarding the public lecture series, please contact

2017 Chef Lecture Dates

Monday, Sept. 4
"New Angles on Old Beverages"
Science Center Lecture Hall C, 7 p.m.
Dave Arnold (@CookingIssues), Booker and Dax, 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"

Monday, Sept. 11
"The Science of Risotto"
Science Center Lecture Hall C, 7 p.m.
Lidia Bastianich (@LidiaBastianich), Lidia’s Kitchen, Eataly

Monday, Sept. 18      
"The Art of Fermentation"
Science Center Lecture Hall C, 7 p.m.
Sandor Katz (@sandorkraut), author of "Wild Fermentation," "The Art of Fermentation"

Monday, Sept. 25                              
"Egg Transitions in Philippine Cooking"
Science Center Lecture Hall C, 7 p.m.
Margarita Forés (@MargaritaFores), Asia’s Best Female Chef 2016, Cibo Restaurants, Manila Philippines

Monday, Oct. 2
"Insights from Modernist Bread"
Science Center Lecture Hall C, 7 p.m.
Nathan Myhrvold, (@ModCuisine), former Chief Technology Officer of Microsoft, author of "Modernist Cuisine"

Monday, Oct. 16
"The Science of Sugar"
Science Center Lecture Hall C, 7 p.m.
Joanne Chang ’91, (@jbchang), Flour Bakery and Café, author of "Flour" and "Flour Too"

Monday, Oct. 23
"Science and Cooking: An Idea That Still Holds Waters"
Science Center Lecture Hall C, 7 p.m.
Bill Yosses (@BillYosses), former White House executive pastry chef, author “The Sweet Spot: Dialing Back Sugar and Amping Up Flavor”
Vayu Maini Rekdal (@NOFOKitchen), Young Chefs Program, Ph.D. candidate Harvard University

Monday, Oct. 30
"Sweet Temperature Range"
Science Center Lecture Hall C, 7 p.m.
Jordi Roca (@jordirocasan), El Celler de Can Roca

Monday, Nov. 6
"A Menu at Benu: A Look at Texture and Mouthfeel"
Science Center Lecture Hall C, 7 p.m.
Corey Lee, Benu  

Monday, Nov. 27
"Avante-Garde, Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow"
Science Center Lecture Hall C, 7 p.m.
José Andrés (@chefjoseandres), minibar by José Andrés, ThinkFoodGroup

Special Spring Lectures - 2018

Monday, April 9
"ACID TRIP: How Vinegar Brightens Our Lives Through Acidity"
Science Center Lecture Hall C, 7 p.m.
Gabriel Bremer La Bodega (Watertown) and former Salts Restaurant (Cambridge). 
Michael Harlan Turkell (@harlanturk), author of "Acid Trip: Travels in the Worl of Vinegar", "The Beer Pantry", and "Offal Good"; host on The Food Seen, HeritageRadioNetwork and's BURNT TOAST podcast.

Monday, March 5
"Exploring Deliciousness – Insects in a Gastronomic Context"
Science Center Lecture Hall C, 8 p.m.
Roberto Flore (@robbeflo) Nordic Food Lab

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

Lab Design/Implementation

  • Pere Castells, Unitat UB-Bullipèdia

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.  Part 1 of the online course launches again on August 23. Learners can also sign up for part 2 of the course which launched on May 17 and is still open.

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.