Though often overlooked in the pursuit of new recipes, cooking is chemistry! There’s no way around it. Knowing a little about the chemical reactions that transform basic ingredients into haute cuisine can help make your meals divine.
In Chemistry of the Kitchen, students step into a kitchen laboratory to gain hands-on experience of the science behind cooking. They examine classic techniques including emulsification, browning, and temperature variations while investigating the phenomena at play from the lens of a scientist. They study organic molecules and determine their impact on flavor, they analyze the intermolecular forces at work in emulsification, and they identify the complex chemical reactions that underlie baked bread and cooked meats. They also examine the thermodynamics of ice cream and the role of solubility in preparing candy and chocolate. Yum!
Last week in class, students examined the science of emulsification by making mayonnaise and hollandaise sauce, two classic emulsions. Things turned competitive when Bay scientist chefs put their new understanding into practice in a competition to make the best eggs benedict. After an hour of intense cooking, resident foodie and Associate Head of School Lise Shelton selected the winners. All the meals were delicious (no small feat with hollandaise and poached eggs) but special congratulations go to Leo, Ellie, and Zeno, as well as Jesie, Ping, and Tycho for winning the Best Hollandaise Championship! Zoe, Derek, and Jimmy took home the prize for Best Plating and Presentation, while Elsa, Emma, and Nate won for Best Poached Egg. Sierra, Zach, and Will were honored for creating the Most Innovative Dish due to their use of a brown sugar-cured lemon peel.
Final projects will feature student cooking demonstrations that highlight culinary technique as well as the science that underpins their dishes. Demos will take place at Bay’s Winter Immersive Exhibition on Friday, January 24 from 3:00 – 7:00 p.m. Bring your appetite!