Professor Amy Rowat, Science & Food’s fearless leader, was lucky enough to spend the week at the 2013 World Science Festival in New York City. Scientists featured in the festival discussed everything from quantum mechanics to nanomedicine; Professor Rowat helped bring scientific discovery to life at The Taste of Science, a multi-course meal highlighting the power of gastronomic experimentation. And what a feast it was--physics, chemistry, neuroscience, and microbiology all packed into ten courses. Creative dishes prepared by visionary chefs provided an edible demonstration of intriguing scientific concepts. Writer and food critic Jeffrey Steingarten, notorious for his scathing reviews as an Iron Chef Judge and not one to dish out compliments, seemed quite delighted at the end of the night and even admitted that this was the overall best modernist meal he had ever had!
Before the event, Chef and Cocktail Master Dave Arnold of Booker & Dax and NYU Chemist Kent Kirshenbaum prepare for their presentation on cocktail science (left), and Dr. Kirshenbaum catches up on a little last-minute preparatory reading (right).
To kick off the night, science and food pioneer Harold McGee sets the stage with some historical perspective. (It’s been a while since the salon days of the early 1900s.)
Jay Kenji Alt, mastermind of the Serious Eats Food Lab, emceed the event, guiding diners through their scientific meal and and peppering the speakers with questions throughout the evening
Chefs Najat Kaanache and Bill Yosses strategize their “chocolate paper” dessert, featuring the structural molecules of fruits, such as pectin (left). Meanwhile, Maxime Bilet’s team is hard at work plating their “Noble Roots” dish for the Neuroscience of Taste (right).
Equipped with complimentary nose plugs, neuroscientist Professor Stuart Firestein of Columbia University led the audience in a sensory experiment to experience the role of smell in taste perception. Jelly beans just don’t taste the same without a sense of smell!
Professor Rowat’s dining partners, Harvard microbiologist Dr. Rachel Dutton (left) and Harold McGee (right), partake in the grand olfactory experiment.