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Anthony Myint

Anthony Myint, a chef based in the Mission in San Francisco, is a founder of the restaurants The Perennial, Mission Street Food, Mission Chinese Food, Mission Cantina, Mission Burger, Lt. Waffle, and Commonwealth Restaurant. His cookbook, co-written with his wife Karen Leibowitz, Mission Street Food: Recipes and Ideas from an Improbable Restaurant, was a New York Times Notable cookbook in 2011. In 2010, Food & Wine Magazine listed Myint as one of the big food thinkers in their “Top 40 Under 40” list, and in 2011, was named as Eater.com’s empire builder of the year for San Francisco. As the pioneer of the charitable restaurant business, he was named SF Weekly’s Charitable Chef of the year in 2009 and is one-third of the non-profit, ZeroFoodprint.

See Anthony Myint May 19, 2016 at “Curbing Carbon Emissions in Dining: A Conversation with ZeroFoodprint”

Anthony Myint

What hooked you on cooking?
Years ago what got me into the industry was the desire to do things the way I thought they should be done. At the time that was to make food in the middle ground between serious fine dining food and fast food/cheap ethnic food. It seemed like there was plenty of culinary expertise that doesn’t cost anything, but wasn’t being utilized in the $8-$15 price range.
The coolest example of science in your food?
Since then my whole orientation has changed and I am very interested in food and climate change. So to me, the exciting thing right now is carbon farming—how the production of food can store significant amounts of carbon in the soil. Or maybe I should restore it (I think literally billions of tons of carbon used to be in the soil before we started plowing.)
The food you find most fascinating?
I had a whole evolution from being infatuated with technique driven junk food, to lighter and more delicate haute cuisine food, to now, food that prioritizes the environment on equal footing with flavor. That said, I am most fascinated by the business side of food and the best value.
What scientific concept–food related or otherwise–do you find most fascinating?
Carbon farming, carbon ranching, perennial grains and plants, and aquaponics as an intensive urban agricultural route to freeing up millions of acres of fields that are currently planted with annuals and could be switched to perennials.
Your best example of a food that is better because of science?
Kernza is a perennial grain that was being optimized through natural breeding for the last 10-15 years by The Land Institute, in conjunction with The University of Minnesota. It’s finally starting to become available and a lot of science has gone into making an intermediate wheatgrass that could do wonders environmentally, into something commercially competitive with annual semi-dwarf wheat.
How do you think science will impact your world of food in the next 5 years?
Making it taste better and be healthier and more eco-friendly. We recently visited the labs at Impossible Foods and they are doing exciting things with producing a vegetab;e protein based burger that really mimics meat, all the way down to bleeding and firming up at 140 F.
One kitchen tool you could not live without?
Silicon Spatula
Five things most likely to be found in your fridge?
Milk, eggs, chicken, beer, ranch dressing
Your all-time favorite ingredient?
Chicken skin.
Favorite cookbook?
That’s tough. I really like the Mugaritz cookbook because it is so analytical and articulate.
Your standard breakfast?
Scrambled eggs with a little bit of sautéed vegetables

Ernest Miller

Ernest Miller, a pro at food preservation, was once the Executive Chef at Farmer’s Kitchen in Hollywood. In 2011, he relaunched the Los Angeles County Master Food Preserver program, where he was the lead instructor. Nowadays, Miller reigns as founder, chef, instructor, and historian of Rancho La Merced Provisions LLC., which provides “food and classes that reflect the rich history of California.”

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What hooked you on cooking?
I grew up in Los Angeles in the 1970s and my uncle took me, my brothers and cousins out for exotic meals, such as sushi and authentic Chinese food (exotic in the 70s), sparking my interest in different flavors and cuisines. Later, when I was traveling the world with the US Navy I would always explore local foods and then try come home and try to replicate it.
The coolest example of science in your food?
Pressure canned food that is boiling in the jar at near room temperature because of the high vacuum in the jar. A simple middle school experiment, certainly, but I still get a kick out of it every time I pressure can food.
The food you find most fascinating?
Milk. It is one of the main distinctions between mammals and other animals and is a nearly perfect food for growing infants. Although many adults are lactose intolerant, many others have the most recently evolved ability (unlike most mammals) to digest milk. And beyond the simple beverage, our ability to transform milk’s texture, flavor and form amazes me. Yogurt (and all its permutations), cheeses, whey, ice cream, whipped cream, powdered milk, etc. etc. etc.
What scientific concept–food related or otherwise–do you find most fascinating?
Evolution. The incredible diversity of life on our planet is awe inspiring and readily explained by, in broad terms, a relatively simple and elegant process. It boggles the mind. Evolution made many, many very delicious things.
Your best example of a food that is better because of science?
Anything pasteurized. Many of us would not be here today without food that has been made safer for human consumption through pasteurization. Does this mean that everything has to be pasteurized? Of course not. But the fact that we are even able to debate whether or not certain foods should be pasteurized is thanks to that saint of food preservation, Louis Pasteur.
How do you think science will impact your world of food in the next 5 years?
One of the main goals of the Master Food Preserver program is to teach the general public researched-based safe food preservation practices. My hope is that we will see more scientific research that will increase what we are able to teach to home cooks.
One kitchen tool you could not live without?
My 10″ chef’s knife.
Five things most likely to be found in your fridge?
Milk. Eggs. Cheese. Homemade Fermented Hot Sauce. Preserved Lemons.
Your all-time favorite ingredient?
Preserved lemons. They are incredibly versatile. They can be used in any dish that can be improved by lemon and salt … and there are few dishes that cannot be improved by lemon and salt.
Favorite cookbook?
It isn’t a cookbook per se, but The Flavor Bible by Karen Page and Andrew Dorenenburg is my go to book when I want to cook. It provides a compendium of ingredients and what other ingredients they pair well with. There are no recipes, but if you know how to cook, you can use this book to inspire you. I use it to cook out of my pantry. I’ll see what I have available and then look through the Flavor Bible until I am inspired to make a dish.
Your standard breakfast?
Leftovers, primarily, but porridge (not just oatmeal) and yogurt are my staples.

Ari Rosenson

Ari Rosenson began his culinary career at 16 working at Spago West Hollywood, eventually working his way up to executive sous-chef at Spago Beverly Hills. He is now executive chef at CUT Beverly Hills, where he is dedicated to serving the best meats and farmers market vegetables. His dishes are inspired by the simplicity of Italian cuisines.

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What hooked you on cooking?
Two things got me hooked. I love the fact that something so simple as cooking a meal for someone can make them so happy. This is a great form of instant gratification. The alchemy of cooking is very fun. The fact that there are endless learning opportunities keeps my curiosity satiated.
The coolest example of science in your food?
Playing with fire… Simple adjustments to the formula that affects the quality of the fire you are working with and how that controls the quality and speed of cooking process of the food I am manipulating. I find this to be very cool.
The food you find most fascinating?
I can’t say that there is just one or a group of foods that I find fascinating. I find all food fascinating and the fact that there are endless possibilities to what you can do with it amazes me.
What scientific concept–food related or otherwise–do you find most fascinating?
Evolution intertwined with Causality. How we evolve as a species, the history of what we have done, are doing and are planning on doing to ourselves and the environment around us is very interesting. This can relate to food in whole or in part. For example, global warming has a profound effect on weather patterns thus having an effect on our food production and so on and so on.
Your best example of a food that is better because of science?
I can’t really come to a conclusion with this question. All food is better because of science. If we didn’t have science and food we would still be cooking our food around a fire like cavemen.
How do you think science will impact your world of food in the next 5 years?
Negatively. I think that we overanalyze data when it comes to food safety and create laws that might seem to make food safer but effectively changes chefs physical practices. Too much of a nanny state can be a dangerous thing.
One kitchen tool you could not live without?
My knife. You really can’t do anything without cutting it down to size first.
Five things most likely to be found in your fridge?
Eggs, Sriracha, Pickles, Avocado, Bread
Your all-time favorite ingredient?
Salt
Favorite cookbook?
On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee
Your standard breakfast?
Coffee plus everything in question #8 (with the exception of the pickles.) Nothing like a simple scrambled egg sandwich on toast with avocado and a little srircha on the side.

Marcel Vigneron

Chef Marcel Vigneron was first introduced to the public eye as the runner-up of season two’s Top Chef. Known on the show for his molecular gastronomy techniques, Vigneron has since then built upon his specialty with his own reality TV show in 2010, Marcel’s Quantum Kitchen, and competing on Iron Chef and later seasons of Top Chef.

Marcel Vigneron

What hooked you on cooking?
I love a good challenge and cooking is one of the only occupations that I can think of that requires you to utilize every single one of your senses while simultaneously challenging you not only physically, but mentally and creatively. It pretty much provides me with everything I would ever want out of a career and you get to perform a good deed for society and provide people with not only nourishment but also experience.
The coolest example of science in your food?
Science is always in our food whether we know it or not but if I had to choose one, I would say I thoroughly enjoy working with eggs! Whether it be by whipping whites to peaks, yolks to sabayon, making a hollandaise or whatever the case may be, eggs allow for so many fascinating scientific processes to take place through emulsification, aeration, coagulation and many more…
The food you find most fascinating?
Rather than say “eggs” again, which would probably be my first choice, I will venture to say that I find olive oil to be quite fascinating. It’s amazing how something when raw can taste so disgusting but through brining and pressing one can yield such an amazingly diverse and healthy product that goes with just about anything…
What scientific concept–food related or otherwise–do you find most fascinating?
Brining and curing have always fascinated me. Originally used as means of preservation, they have now become a staple technique in the kitchen for so many things.
Your best example of a food that is better because of science?
Vinaigrettes!!! A simple combination of oil and vinegar becomes so much more practical when emulsified temporarily or permanently with the addition of xanthan gum.
How do you think science will impact your world of food in the next 5 years?
I think science will make a positive impact on the world of food in the next 5 years through education. Every phenomenon that takes place during cooking and even in agriculture can be explained through science. The more we understand these activities and happenings the more prepared we will be to make conscious decisions regarding the future of our food.
One kitchen tool you could not live without?
ALL I NEED IS 1 KNIFE!!!!
Five things most likely to be found in your fridge?
Yuzu juice, miso paste, tofu, almond milk, fish on ice.
Your all-time favorite ingredient?
Salt because it brings out the flavor in everything.
Favorite cookbook?
Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry.
Your standard breakfast?
Chia seeds hydrated in almond milk with berries and nuts.

Roger Pigozzi

Roger Pigozzi studied at the Culinary Institute of America and works at UCLA as the corporate chef and assistant director of dining. In addition to feeding hungry Bruins, Pigozzi also developed and incorporated delicious vegan offerings on the menu.

Roger Pigozzi

What hooked you on cooking?
I think it was growing up in a home where my grandparents lived upstairs. My grandmother and mother were both very good cooks, but I really believe my grandmother was a better cook. She made everything from scratch including pasta, soup, baked bread, and always one special loaf for me baked in a coffee can. My mother was a better baker. She baked a chewy hazelnut meringue and whipped cream cake that was unforgettable. When I was still very young my parents owned a tavern known for its home-style cooking. Food was always a very important part of our family, and for as long as my parents could remember, I said I wanted to be a chef.
The coolest example of science in your food?
At Christmas time when we make gingerbread cookies and add the baking soda to the hot corn syrup I still get a kick out of watching it blow up.
The food you find most fascinating?
It’s the tomato; when you cut it open you see mother nature’s natural gelatin which is more stable and tastier than any gelatin we make. We can eat them raw, roasted, or even oven dried, which transforms even a mediocre tomato into an amazing full flavored tomato.
What scientific concept–food related or otherwise–do you find most fascinating?
The essence of food…the process of dehydration and caramelization whether it’s the part of the roast that sticks to the bottom of the pan; a wine reduction; the oven dried tomatoes that I just mentioned; or oven dried ketchup, “ketchup leather”, to be served in warm sandwiches.
Your best example of a food that is better because of science?
Beta-carotene enriched rice.
How do you think science will impact your world of food in the next 5 years?
I think we will see hydroponic gardens attached to restaurants allowing us to serve more locally produced fruits and vegetables.
One kitchen tool you could not live without?
The French/chef’s knife.
Five things most likely to be found in your fridge?
Flourless bread, soy milk, nuts and grains including steel cut oatmeal (it keeps them from going rancid), extra virgin olive oil.
Your all-time favorite ingredient?
Farmers market garlic and shallots.
Favorite cookbook?
The French Laundry by Thomas Keller.
Your standard breakfast?
Steel cut oatmeal eaten cold with frozen organic blueberries, bananas, flaxseed meal, roasted slivered almonds and soy milk followed by a soy latte or espresso. This is my breakfast 95% of the time.

Science & Food 2014 Undergraduate Course

2014 Course Lecturers

This week marks the beginning of UCLA’s Spring Quarter, which can only mean one thing… It’s time for the Science & Food undergraduate course! We have a stellar lineup of chefs and farmers slated for our third annual offering of Science & Food: The Physical and Molecular Origins of What We Eat. Although the course is only open to current UCLA students, we will be posting highlights from the course right here on the blog. Until then, check out this year’s course speakers and brush up on some of the great science we’ve learned in past courses.

And don’t forget: the Science & Food 2014 Public Lecture Series is fast approaching, so be sure to get your tickets before they sell out. Hope to see you all there!


2014 Science & Food Course Lecturers

The Molecules of Food
Eve Lahijani, UCLA School of Public Health

Why Carrots Taste Sweeter in the Winter
Ashleigh Parsons, alma
Ari Taymor, alma
Brian D. Maynard, alma
Courtney Guerra, Courtney Guerra Farms

Molecules from Soil to Plants
Ernest Miller, Master Food Preservers of Los Angeles County

Self-Assembly: From Proteins and Lipids to Cheese
Ole Mouritsen, University of Southern Denmark

Apple Pie 101
Daryl Ansel, UCLA Dining Services

Why Lettuce is Crispy
Andrea Crawford, Kenter Canyon Farms

Meat Texture and Elasticity
Ari Rosenson, CUT

Viscosity: From Physiology to Pie Filling
Nicole Rucker, Gjelina Take Away

Microbes in Food
Alex Brown, Gourmet Imports

The Physiology of Taste
Juliet Han, Espresso Republic


Highlights From Past Science & Food Courses

Why Are Root Vegetables Sweeter in Cold Weather? – Alex Weiser, Weiser Family Farms

Milk: From Breast to Cheese  Dan Drake, Drake Family Farms

The Molecules of Food and Nutrition  Dr. Dena Herman, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health

Viscosity in French Sauces  Josiah Citrin, Mélisse

It’s All About Sugar  Barbara Spencer, Windrose Farm

The Molecules of Food Jordan Kahn, Red Medicine