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David Kinch

David Kinch is Chef-Proprietor of Manresa, a restaurant located in Los Gatos, California that has been awarded two Michelin stars for eight consecutive years. Kinch is a winner of the Best Chef in America award from the James Beard Foundation as well as dean of The International Culinary Center. Having studied the culinary arts in France, Spain, German, Japan, and the U.S., he is known for his French, Catalan, and Japanese-influenced California cuisine that has been lauded as simplistic yet creative.

David Kinch

What hooked you on cooking?
I became enamored with the restaurant business which led to being enamored with cooking. My first restaurant jobs were as dishwasher and front of house staff. In those roles, I got close to the kitchen and became fascinated with how the cooks worked. After that, I became interested in the idea of being creative and working with my hands. It was really inspiring to watch people enjoying the fruits of their labor through cooking.
The coolest example of science in your food?
Ice cream because it keeps things frozen on a hot day!
The food you find most fascinating?
I find Japanese food fascinating because of the complex simplicity of it.
What scientific concept–food related or otherwise–do you find most fascinating?
Fermentation
Your best example of a food that is better because of science?
One of my favorite examples is making chicharones by first cooking them sous vide so the collagen (and flavor!) don’t leach out into the water, creating a whole new, interesting and satisfying texture.
How do you think science will impact your world of food in the next 5 years?
Cooks are becoming more understanding of basic science and chemistry principles than ever before. To fundamentally understand basic principles will benefit the industry as a whole in understanding “how things work.”
One kitchen tool you could not live without?
Cake tester – I use it for testing the doneness of meat, fish, and vegetables.
Five things most likely to be found in your fridge?
Chez Pim jam, good butter, Champagne, Japanese pickles and yogurt
Your all-time favorite ingredient?
My favorite ingredient changes all the time. I can be a farm chicken to fennel bulb to an herb.
Your standard breakfast?
Good coffee and usually yogurt and honey. If I’m splurging, it is toast with Manresa’s butter, and Chez Pim jam. If I’m going out, it’s always huevos rancheros.

The Science of Pie

The Science of Pie
Featuring Christina Tosi & Zoe Nathan
May 19, 2013

At the world’s first scientific bakeoff, the students of the Science & Food undergraduate course presented results from their final projects, including a live taste test of apple pies. The final projects were judged by Chefs Christina Tosi and Zoe Nathan, food critics Jonathan Gold and Evan Kleiman, and UCLA Professors Andrea Kasko, and Sally Krasne.

Chefs Christina Tosi and Zoe Nathan also shared their perspectives on inventing desserts, with an emphasis on pie. Watch the entire lecture or check out some of the shorter highlights below.

Christina Tosi on…

…creating cereal milk

“Cereal milk, fortunately for us but unfortunately for the scientific process, was very simple to make . . . But a lot of the other things that we make at Milk Bar go through a much more vigorous question asking and testing process before we actually decide whether or not its successful.”

…crack pie and re-inventing pie crust

“Crack pie is our approach to pie. It very much embodies our approach to pie. We don’t use a traditional American pie crust . . . Pie crust is an opportunity to surprise and wow and provide texture and flavor that is beyond, perhaps, you standard traditional American pie crust.”

…creativity, curiosity, and the scientific process

Whether or not we’re aware of it, the scientific process is often an integral part of cooking and baking. When Christina Tosi describes her creative process at Milk Bar, she might as well be describing the process of scientific research and discovery:

“The second that I got out of school and I was able to have my own voice, I stepped back and I looked at everything that I was taught and listened to and followed  without questioning, and I questioned it. And not in a disrespectful way, just in a ‘Well, what if? Why and what if?’ And I think that that curiosity and that forcing yourself to question every single thing in the creative process is incredibly helpful … you really just need that wandering spirit and the courage to ask ‘Why?’ And then of course the momentum and the patience to test through and be willing to fail but also be excited when you succeed.”

Zoe Nathan on…

…being a traditional baker and working with simple ingredients

“A really good baker isn’t bored of flour, and isn’t bored of sugar, and isn’t bored of salt, and isn’t bored of butter. They just know that through process they can make an entirely different thing every single day using five ingredients.”

…how to create the most amazing pie

“My second biggest pet peeve as a baker is how people bake. They forget that this is also an ingredient. Color is flavor: without it, you don’t have flavor. It just doesn’t work. Color and baking time and how your pie looks needs to be treated as another ingredient. It’s just as important as salt, sugar, flour, or anything. If you forget your color, you didn’t make the thing. . . It’s like you don’t have chocolate for your chocolate chip cookies.”

…baking and being present

“I would wish for everybody to throw away their timers and to start to engage all of their senses.  Smell! Is it done? Look at it! Is it ready? . . . The whole thing about baking is that it makes you be present.”