Teaching the Science of How Cooking Works

"Modernist Cuisine" co-author Chris Young teaches JWU faculty about liquid nitrogenSince 2011, JWU senior culinary consultant Chris Young has been working with Karl Guggenmos, university dean of culinary education, and James Griffin, associate provost, to initiate a multi-year project focused on making science an equal partner in culinary education.

“A deep appreciation for the science of cooking is going to enable us to be more creative and innovative,” Young says.

Master Classes in Science-based Cooking
Young has traveled to all 4 JWU campuses to teach master classes in the science of how cooking works, including step-by-step examinations of the physical and chemical reactions that most chefs take for granted, such as searing meat, frothing egg whites and emulsifying mayonnaise.

In essence, his classes are a study in cooking as the manipulation of water and heat.

“Heat is how we transform food, yet the way it works is actually deeply misunderstood by many chefs because it’s never been taught.”

Water is an equally potent force, “not only because it creates humidity, but because food is pretty much water with a bunch of impurities in it.”

New Culinary Curriculum for 2014
Understanding these concepts goes to the very heart of what makes cooking work — and it’s the jumping-off point for Young’s intensive work with faculty, which will filter, in turn, into the new culinary curriculum currently in development.

As a biochemist, mathematician and former head of culinary research and development at acclaimed UK restaurant The Fat Duck, Young is uniquely qualified to teach applied science as it pertains to food.

To date, roughly 50% of all culinary faculty has trained with Young, and more than 1000 students have attended his lectures.

Young is excited about how students will benefit from this broader knowledge base: “It’s critical for young chefs to not only learn their craft, but to learn to take innovation and play in the kitchen in a very serious way.”

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