Sophomore Seminars

Bon Appétit, Marie Curie! The Science Behind Haute Cuisine

BIOE 32Q

This seminar is for anyone who loves food, cooking, or science! We will focus on the science and biology behind the techniques and the taste buds. Not a single lecture will pass by without a delicious opportunity—each weekly meeting will include not only lecture, but also a lab demonstration and a chance to prepare classic dishes that illustrate that day's scientific concepts.

Each class will include a lecture, a food demonstration/experiment in which you participate, and food preparation or tasting components we explore together. For example, the first session will be mostly concerned with the five main tastes: aromatics, texture/mouthfeel, psychology, and genetics (why some people can't stand cilantro, for example). You will (literally) internalize these concepts with a number of taste experiences and experiments. The remaining sessions will focus on topics such as: why we cook food; what heat does to meat and vegetables; the central role microbes play in cooking and eating; sauces and foams; molecular gastronomy; and of course, the science of dessert!

Meet the Instructor(s)

Markus Covert

Markus Covert says: "The main thing you need to know about this class is that I love science, and I love to cook! I taught a version of this class last year in Paris, as part of the Bing Overseas Studies Program there, and it was incredibly fun. More broadly, I'm a scientist in the Bioengineering Department who focuses on applying mathematics and engineering tools to better understand how cells work. My lab is probably best known for building the first "whole-cell" computer model, which was an effort to represent everything that was known about a bacterium using mathematical equations. That model has turned out to be an incredible tool for discovering new biology."