Entries by Grant Alkin

Ricotta Cheese

Protein networks are responsible for the structure and mechanical properties of many foods such as eggs and meat. Even bread gets its chewy texture from the formation of springy gluten protein networks. As we will see in this recipe, protein network formation is vital for the successful production of cheese.


The momofuku team, led by chef/owner David Chang, swung through town during our week on microbes. David Chang and Peter Meehan produce the literary magazine Lucky Peach. Dan Felder and Veronica Trevizo are chefs who work in the momofuku kitchen lab. For LA Weekly’s rundown of the public lecture, see here. For more photos, see […]

Does your cheese taste of microbes?

In our unit on microbes and exponential growth, we learned about the role of microbes in altering flavor and mouthfeel.  One of our favorite microbial foods is cheese:  Cheese would just be spoiled milk if it were not for microbes. To kick off the class, we challenged the students with a taste test featuring four […]

Josiah Citrin on Viscosity in French Sauces

Josiah Citrin visited class to discuss viscosity’s role in sauces and its effect on flavor and mouthfeel. Josiah is the chef/owner of Mélisse in Santa Monica and co-owner of Lemon Moon in West LA.  Using the sauces that he brought for us to taste, Josiah traced out the evolution of sauce making from pre-1970s to […]

Plants under pressure

In our unit on pressure, we used plants as a model system. What makes lettuce crispy? How do you revive wilted lettuce? It’s really all about pressure- turgor pressure, to be exact. We prepared tasting samples of dehydrated grapes (aka raisins) and kale chips to demonstrate the vital role that water and pressure play in […]

René Redzepi and Lars Williams on Deliciousness

René Redzepi and Lars Williams of Noma and Nordic Food Lab finally made it to UCLA! We had quite an adventure leading up to their lecture, which involved mole crabs, sand fleas, live crickets, lost luggage, liquid-nitrogen-seaweed ice cream, and much more. René Redzepi spoke about the pursuit of ‘deliciousness’: “It’s not about creating dishes, […]

Gary Menes’ Veggie Platter

This week’s lecturer is Gary Menes. He is the chef at Le Comptoir, a pop-up restaurant at Tiara Café in LA.  Gary Menes and sous-chef Wesley Avila weighed in on our topic of the week, “Pressure,” with their version of the veggie platter.  There were 20-odd vegetables and fruits present, including pickled onions, the season’s first […]

“It’s all about sugar” – Barbara Spencer

Barbara Spencer of Windrose Farm in Paso Robles was our lecturer on the topic of phase transitions.  “Why are carrots harvested after winter particularly sweet?” Plants use sugar as an internal antifreeze. This is an example of the concept of freezing point depression. When a solution freezes, the molecules into a crystalline structure. However, when […]