Science & Cooking lecture series returns to Harvard on September 8

New speakers, new topics blend physics and creativity with culinary flair

The Science & Cooking public lecture series returns this fall with many new chefs and lectures. (Photo courtesy of Mark Ladner.)

Cambridge, Mass. – August 18, 2014 – Harvard’s popular Science & Cooking lecture series will return on September 8, bringing world-class chefs and eminent food experts to campus for weekly talks and demonstrations that are open to the public.

Most of the guests and topics this year will be entirely new, as the series welcomes for the first time the internationally renowned chefs Dominique Crenn and Daniel Humm, among many others.

Hosted by the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), the public lecture series runs through the end of the fall semester. A full schedule, including the lecture topics, is available online:

The kickoff event on Monday, September 8, features two audience favorites: Dave Arnold, who hosts the radio show Cooking Issues, and Harold McGee, author of On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen. Their brand-new lecture will draw inspiration from the last 20 years’ history of science and cooking. On September 15, Joanne Chang ’91, owner of the Flour bakeries in Cambridge and Boston, will also cover new ground with “The Science of Sugar,” explaining topics like phase transitions, crystallization, and solubility.

Mark Ladner of Del Posto Restaurant, speaking on the topic of elasticity on September 22, will bring along an entourage of sorts: his Pasta Flyer food truck will be dishing out gluten-free pasta in the Science Center Plaza, hosted by the Harvard Common Spaces Initiative, from September 22 to 24.

Bill Yosses, who served as the White House Pastry Chef from 2007 to 2014 and who now begins a new project on food literacy, returns to give an interdisciplinary talk titled “gAstronomy,” with NASA astronomer Steve Howell. Master chocolatier Enric Rovira will travel from Barcelona to discuss how the physics of heat transfer relates to the flavor, texture, and presentation that distinguish fine chocolate.

Dominique Crenn, whose modernist and imaginative Atelier Crenn in San Francisco calls itself a “poetic culinaria,” will discuss “the metamorphosis of taste.” Ferran Adrià, former head chef of elBulli in Barcelona and now creator of the innovative elBulli Foundation, will “decode the creative process.”

The series becomes hyperlocal on October 27, with a lecture by Martin Breslin, Director of Culinary Operations for Harvard University Dining Services. An internationally experienced chef, Breslin leads menu development and delivery for all of Harvard’s campus dining, which serves an average of 25,000 meals per day.

In November, Christina Tosi (Milk Bar) discusses emulsions and foams; Daniel Humm (Eleven Madison Park) asks “Where is the Acid?”; Jody Adams (Rialto) explores fermentation; and Nathan Myhrvold covers "Modernist Cuisine." Joan Roca will close out the fall series with a talk on the history and new inspiration behind El Celler de Can Roca, the restaurant he co-founded near Barcelona.

For a sample of what is to come, an archive of past talks (from 2010, 2011, and 2012) can be viewed on iTunes U and YouTube. This year, many of the talks will again be video-recorded and made available online.

The popular public lecture series grew out of a collaboration between Harvard SEAS and the Alícia Foundation in Spain. A related Harvard College course, “Science and Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to the Science of Soft Matter," which will be offered to undergraduates for the fifth time in the fall of 2014, uses food and cooking to explicate fundamental principles in applied physics and engineering. Blending haute cuisine with laboratory research, the chefs and food experts teach alongside Harvard faculty members. In addition to lectures and readings, lab work is an integral part of the course, and students perform experiments on topics including heat transfer, viscosity and elasticity, and crystallization and entropy.

This year, for the first time, an online version of the Science & Cooking course will also be offered through Harvard Extension School, where enrolled students will have full access to the support and expertise of Harvard teaching staff. A hybrid (online and in-person) course will follow in spring 2015. For students who would prefer to dabble at their own pace, the video lectures of the online course that was offered in 2013 through HarvardX have been archived and are currently available for free.

The Science & Cooking Lecture Series does not replicate the content of the Harvard College course, the Harvard Extension School course, nor the HarvardX online course. Rather, these public events are simply meant to inform and inspire with a fresh perspective on culinary science. For more information, visit

Public Lecture Schedule

Monday, September 8, 2014

“Science and Cooking: A Look at the Last Twenty Years”
Science Center Lecture Hall C, 7 p.m.
Dave Arnold (@CookingIssues), Booker & Dax, and host of “Cooking Issues”
Harold McGee (@Harold_McGee), writer, Curious Cook

Monday, September 15, 2014

“The Science of Sugar”
Science Center Lecture Hall C, 7 p.m.
Joanne Chang ’91 (@jbchang), Flour Bakery, author of Flour and Flour Too

Monday, September 22, 2014

“Al Dente: When Plastic Meets Elastic”
Science Center Lecture Hall C, 7 p.m.
Mark Ladner (@ChefMarkLadner), Del Posto

Monday, September 29, 2014

Science Center Lecture Hall C, 7 p.m.
Bill Yosses (@BillYosses), former White House Pastry Chef, author of The Perfect Finish
Steve Howell, project scientist, NASA Kepler & K2 missions

Monday, October 6, 2014

“Heat Transfer and Chocolate”
Science Center Lecture Hall C, 7 p.m.
Enric Rovira, master chocolatier

Monday, October 13, 2014

“Metamorphosis of Taste”
Science Center Lecture Hall C, 7 p.m.
Dominique Crenn (@DominiqueCrenn), Atelier Crenn

Monday, October 20, 2014

“Decoding the Creative Process”
Science Center Lecture Hall C, 7 p.m.
Ferran Adrià (@FerranAdria), elBulli Foundation

Monday, October 27, 2014

“The History of Culinary Thickeners”
Science Center Lecture Hall C, 7 p.m.
Martin Breslin (@HUDSinfo), Harvard University Dining Services

Monday, November 3, 2014

Emulsions and Foams (Title TBA)
Science Center Lecture Hall C, 7 p.m.
Christina Tosi, Milk Bar

Monday, November 10, 2014

“Where is the Acid?”
Science Center Lecture Hall C, 7 p.m.
Daniel Humm, Eleven Madison Park

Monday, November 17, 2014

“Fermentation, an Ancient Trend”
Science Center Lecture Hall C, 7 p.m.
Jody Adams (@JodyAdams), Rialto

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

"Modernist Cuisine"
Science Center Lecture Hall D, 7 p.m.
Nathan Myhrvold (@ModernCuisine), former CTO of Microsoft, co-founder of Intellectual Ventures, author of Modernist Cuisine

Monday, December 1, 2014

“El Celler de Can Roca: Roots, Innovation, and Creation”
Science Center Lecture Hall C, 7 p.m.
Joan Roca (@CanRocaCeller), El Celler de Can Roca

Topics: Cooking

Press Contact

Caroline Perry