Friday, October 4, 2013

Introducing Claire Mewer: Learning From the Best: New Cooking and Science Course at Harvard

Learning From the Best: New Cooking and Science Course at Harvard

Ever thought about turning your kitchen in a Harvard science lab? Probably not. However, a new online course from the prestigious university will do just that as it seeks to teach the mysteries of the kitchen – and not just how the world's best chefs create their award winning dishes but also the science behind these cuisines. Harvard is launching the new online course this month and the best news is it is free to anyone in the world. Called Science Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to Soft Matter Science the class brings together some of the best minds in the lab with some of the best minds in the kitchen and dinning room, with an impressive total of 21 science and food experts assembled. The massive open online course will use internet videos – much like those featured on My Kitchen Kreations To You – combined with Harvard's interactive massive open online course edX system to teach and promises to be an experience like no other.
Using Science to Understand Cooking
The obvious first question why is does science matter in the kitchen where recipes and measuring cups rule? Hold on – doesn't this sound a little like a science lab all of a sudden. As course founder and Harvard Applied Mathematician Professor Michael Brenner explains in a promotional video; ultimately science attempts to better understand the world around us. In other words it can help us to understand why you favorite recipe work and why your cooking mishaps occur. “Cooking is something we've all experienced everyday in our lives and when we cook, when we go to the kitchen to cook, sometimes our recipes work and sometimes they don't work,” Mr Brenner exlpains. “The hope is that by combining these two different perspectives, you will gain a unique insight into how recipes work. Not just the fancy recipes, but the recipes you make in your own kitchen.” Makes sense. It's almost like science taking the guess work out of the kitchen.
Turning a Kitchen into a Science Lab
Classes are run twice a week, revolving around what Harvard dubs an “equation of the week” to link science and cooking. The equation aims to capture a core scientific concept which people will learn about. Participants will then run experiments in their laboratory – or kitchen – by creating the recipe of the week, taking measurements and making observations. Much like a scientist. Or a cook, to be precise. Your kitchen will become a lab where you will conduct experiments such as making molten lava cake – all the while making observations. Alongside this you enter the unique world of Harvard's edX, where you can interact with fellow students from across the globe online, discuss the experience and what you have learned, and ask questions. The content promises to be entertaining, enlightening and most of all digestible (both mentally and physically), meaning the course could be great for children. A chance to spend time with them, while teaching them how to cook and engaging in real-world science. With American children increasingly turning away from science and, according to Licensed Prescription, cooking with kids becoming a bit of a dying art, Harvard's new course is a perfect chance to mix up a recipe for fun and learning for your children.

Kitchen Experiments: From Firm Steak to Aioli Sauce
A quick look at the topics covered in the course might leave you feeling slightly nervous. Harvard lists the curriculum as including “soft matter materials, such as emulsions, illustrated by aioli” and “elasticity, exemplified by the done-ness of a steak”. Sounds pretty technical, but don't get too worried. Because the course is designed for a massive global audience you won't need lab coats, thick science tombs or even immersion blenders. It is tailored for an everyday home kitchen. In fact, the course is being fine-tuned after a large number of people living in India signed on - ovens aren't common in India so changes are being made to ensure people can still follow the classes. Therefore, an everyday American kitchen and education is going to be more than enough.

World's Top Talent Already On Board
A veritable feast of kitchen, table and laboratory talent has been pooled for this course – Harvard's first foray into science and cooking in the online hemisphere. Chefs such as David Chang, the man behind the Momofuku restaurant group, including New York's two Michelin starred Momfuku Ko, have signed up. They will combine with professors of science, engineering and mathematics, and culinary experts from Harvard. Such a pool of talent ensures that even if some of the science goes over your head – at least you'll get the chance to learn tips from some of the world's top chefs. And with some of the classes being conducted from the famous restaurants of the celebrity chefs involved if you learn nothing at the very least you'll get a peak behind the scenes of some of the world's top restaurants.

The course starts on October 10, with registration open now.

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