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The Science of Pie 2014: Video Highlights

The Science of Pie 2014: Video Highlights

June 1, 2014

At the Science of Pie, the world’s first scientific bakeoff, the students of the Science & Food undergraduate course presented results from their final projects in poster format and their pies for taste testing. These pies had to be cooked in one hour and were the summation of all that the students had learned from their pie experiments in the class. Throughout the quarter, the students were challenged to perform a scientific investigation of apple pie and vary different features of the pie such as shape, butter size, and moisture.

The contest was judged by Lena Kwak (of Cup4Cup) and Dave Arnold (of Booker and Dax, the Museum of Food and Drink, and the Cooking Issues Podcast) who were our featured speakers for the 2014 Public Lecture Harnessing Creativity. They were joined by Nicole Rucker (Pastry Chef, Gjelina Take Away), Jonathan Gold (Food Critic, LA Times), Dr. Paul Barber (Associate Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UCLA), and Dr. Rachelle Crosbie-Watson (Associate Professor of Integrative Biology and Physiology, UCLA).

The judges had wise words for the students.

Lena Kwak described how she judged the pies.

“With each of the projects we saw today, there were a considerable amount of variables not considered, but the saving grace …was when I tasted their pies.”

Nicole Rucker talked about what makes an award wining pie

“Jonathan and I both know that from Judging Pie Contests, … that you can see a good pie from literally across the room.”

Dr. Paul Barber spoke to the balance of science and pie making:

“No matter how much scientific testing you do, there’s still just this underlying art to making a really good pie.”

Check out some our featured pies from the 2014 contest.

Honorable Mention Pie

Alexis Cary & Matthew Copperman (Team On the Road)

Perfectly Unsoggy Apple Pie

Best Scientific Pie

Christina Cheung, Tori Schmitt, and Elliot Cheung (Team Pretty Intense Pie Enthusiasts)

Beer Crust Apple Pie

Best Overall Pie & People’s Choice Pie

Alina Naqvi & Ashley Lipkins-Scott (Team Apple Queens)

Crumbalicious Apple Pie

Check out our written recap here !

See the whole Video!

Pie Science & Chocolate Genetics

Rowat explains pie

Our very own Amy Rowat explains how to use science to bake a better pie, and geneticists look at the DNA of cacao beans to breed better chocolate beans.
Read more

Eat Your Science

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!

TasteOfSciencePrep

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).

TasteOfScienceIntro

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.)

TasteofScienceMenu

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

TasteOfSciencePlating

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).

TasteOfScienceOlfaction

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!

TasteofScienceOlfactionExperiment

Professor Rowat’s dining partners, Harvard microbiologist Dr. Rachel Dutton (left) and Harold McGee (right), partake in the grand olfactory experiment.

Nathan Myhrvold and The Science of Barbeque

Last night, Nathan Myhrvold, of Modernist Cuisine, kicked off our inaugural Science and Food Public Lecture Series with a succinct and entertaining lecture on the science of BBQ.

After the lecture, the eloquent Evan Kleiman moderated a panel discussion and Q&A session with Nathan, Amy Rowat, Jon Shook, and Vinny Dotolo.