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Experimental Cuisine Collective Launches at NYU

Chemistry and Food Studies Departments Partner with Chef to Evaluate Scientific Approach for Food Innovation

 

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NEW YORK, March 2007—Faculty members of New York University’s departments of  nutrition, food studies, and public health and chemistry have joined forces with Will Goldfarb, chef-owner of Room 4 Dessert, in a collaborative working group that seeks to use scientific principles and experiments to produce advances in cooking. Through a series of workshops, the Experimental Cuisine Collective will discuss ways in which science may influence what we will be cooking and eating in the future, lead to a greater understanding of our diets, and contribute to safer food and better health across the globe.

The working group will officially launch on Wednesday, April 11, with a strategic workshop titled Experimental Cuisine: Science, Society, and Food. Famed food scientist and physical chemist Hervé This of the Institut National Agronomique in Paris will be the keynote speaker of the workshop, which will assemble 80 participants from the restaurant industry, universities, and media. Other speakers include Robert F. Margolskee, professor of neuroscience at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Wylie Dufresne, chef-owner of WD-50, and Mitchell Davis, vice-president of the James Beard Foundation and food writer. Florence Fabricant of the New York Times will moderate a discussion amongst all the participants.

“Our working group will build on efforts championed by French chemist Hervé This, regarded as a founder of ‘molecular gastronomy,’” said Amy Bentley, interim chair of the department of nutrition, food studies, and public health, “We seek to examine and even propel these scientific advances while integrating our studies with critical analyses that derive from the humanities.” Dr. Bentley and Kent Kirshenbaum, assistant professor of chemistry, are initiating the project at NYU.

“I have long been interested in supporting an interdisciplinary approach to problem solving in cuisine,” said Goldfarb. “When approached by Professor Kirshenbaum last summer, I knew that we would be at the beginning of something historic. I am confident that together, we can make great strides in understanding the mechanisms involved in food preparation. More importantly, with an eye on the impact of the decisions made in the kitchen, we can improve the quality of life for millions of less privileged peoples around the world and in our backyard.”

The group’s goal is to develop a broad and rigorous approach to examine the properties, boundaries, and conventions of food, in a way that is intuitive and relevant to a broad audience. Five times a year, the participants will gather to explore notions of taste, texture, smell; boundaries of edible and inedible; and dining rituals and food taboos. Some of the questions the collective hopes to address include:

·       Can scientific principles help determine which foods we enjoy?

·       How can studying food help the public, from children to elderly, understand science?

·       What technical and cultural foundations give rise to a new cuisine?

·       How can the manipulation of chemical components of food alter notions of edible and inedible?

·       How can education go from the classroom to the kitchen to the dining room in a way that best helps families understand how to make the right dietary choices?

 

About NYU

New York University, located in the heart of Greenwich Village, was established in 1831 and is one of America’s leading research universities. It is one of the largest private universities, it has one of the largest contingents of international students, and it sends more students to study abroad than any other college or university in the U.S. Through its 14 schools and colleges, NYU conducts research and provides education in the arts and sciences, law, medicine, business, dentistry, education, nursing, the cinematic and dramatic arts, music, public administration, social work, and continuing and professional studies, among other areas. For more information, visit www.nyu.edu.

 

About Will Goldfarb

Will Goldfarb is the chef/owner of Room 4 Dessert, New York’s first experiential dessert bar, and his product company, Will Powder, both launched in 2006. In addition to the accolades for Room 4 Dessert from the New York Times, Time Out, New York, Chef Goldfarb has been featured by Bill Buford in the New Yorker, and named Rising Star Chef by Starchefs, and one of Pastry Art and Design's Top 10 Pastry Chefs in America 2006. For more information, visit www.willpowder.net.

  

For more information on the Experimental Cuisine Collective or the April workshop, contact experimentalcuisine@gmail.com.