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The Kitchen as Laboratory: Reflections on the Science of Food and Cooking

Edited by César Vega, Job Ubbink, and Erik van der Linden

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Paper, 336 pages, 67 halftones, 11 tables
ISBN: 978-0-231-15345-4
$19.95 / £13.95

January, 2012
Cloth, 336 pages, 67 halftones, 11 tables
ISBN: 978-0-231-15344-7
$29.95 / £19.95

Eating is a multisensory experience, yet chefs and scientists have only recently begun to deconstruct food’s components, setting the stage for science-based cooking. In this global collaboration of essays, chefs and scientists advance culinary knowledge by testing hypotheses rooted in the physical and chemical properties of food. Using traditional and cutting-edge tools, ingredients, and techniques, these pioneers create, and sometimes revamp, dishes that respond to specific desires and serve up an original encounter with gastronomic practice.

From the seemingly mundane to the food fantastic—from grilled cheese sandwiches, pizzas, and soft-boiled eggs to Turkish ice cream, sugar glasses, and jellified beads—the essays in The Kitchen as Laboratory cover a range of creations and their history and culture. They consider the significance of an eater’s background and dining atmosphere and the importance of a chef’s methods, as well as the strategies used to create a great diversity of foods and dishes. This collection will delight experts and amateurs alike, especially as restaurants rely more on science-based cooking and recreational cooks increasingly explore the physics and chemistry behind their art. Contributors end each essay with their personal thoughts on food, cooking, and science, offering rare insight into a professional’s passion for playing with food.

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About the Author

César Vega holds a Ph.D. in food science and a culinary degree from Le Cordon Bleu and is research manager at Mars Botanical, a division of Mars, Inc. He has consulted with several avant-garde restaurants on aspects relating to science-based cooking, and he regularly teaches seminars on the relation between science and cooking.

Job Ubbink is a senior consultant at Food Concept and Physical Design in Flüh, Switzerland. Trained as a physical chemist and biophysicist, he has more than twelve years of R&D experience in the food industry. Along with his research on food material science and food biophysics, he is a passionate cook devoted to developing sustainable food practices and culture.

Erik van der Linden is professor of physics and physical chemistry of foods at Wageningen University. From 1991 to 1997, he worked at the interface of science and industry at Unilever Research in the Netherlands and in the United States, leading innovation projects on structural and sensory aspects of detergents, cosmetics, and foods. He earned his M.Sc. degree in theoretical physics and his Ph.D. at Leiden University and was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship at Emory University, where he focused on the stability of oil in water emulsions.

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