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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!

Harnessing Creativity

Harnessing Creativity

Featuring Dave Arnold & Chef Lena Kwak

June 1, 2014

As part of our 2014 public lecture series, Dave Arnold (of Booker and Dax, the Museum of Food and Drink, and the Cooking Issues Podcast) discussed his latest culinary innovations and the role of creativity in food. He was joined by Chef Lena Kwak (of Cup4Cup) who shared her process of invention, research, and discovery in the kitchen.

Check out the highlights or watch the full lecture below.

Lena Kwak on the creation of Cup4Cup and the power of mistakes

“It was working with food that helped me get over the fear of imperfection. Making mistakes in the kitchen played a significant role in my recipe development. I found myself more daring [and] willing to experiment with different flavors and texture combinations…Take Cup4Cup. The original formula took me about year-and-a-half to finalize. A year-and-a-half is a very long time to make a lot of mistakes…. All the knowledge I gained through those mistakes has actually left me with [another] set of different products.”

Her biggest words of advice: “Go out there, makes mistakes—because you never know what those mistakes will lead you to.”

Dave Arnold on how to be creative in the kitchen

“What is important isn’t that you use a piece of technology or that you use a new piece of equipment. Really it’s that you try to understand what is going on while you’re cooking…. It’s to become unhinged in a very analytical way… that’s the whole premise of creativity.”

Dave Arnold uses gymnemic acid to flip our understanding of sweet foods

Dave Arnold gives the audience gymnemic acid to block their sweet taste receptors and then challenges them to try sweet treats like sugar, honey, strawberries and chocolate. He explains that erasing sweetness enables the taster to examine how other factors like texture and acidity influences the experience of sweet foods.

Arnold says this analytical approach to food is important: “Even if you have no idea why something happens, if you have a hypothesis … and you keep adapting and recording what your results are… you can get to the right place.”

Watch the entire lecture:

Lena Kwak

A graduate of Rhode Island’s Johnson & Wales Culinary Institute, Cup4Cup President and Co-Founder Lena Kwak began her culinary career as a private chef and caterer. While serving as Research & Development Chef for The French Laundry, Kwak was tasked with testing edible innovations. She excelled quickly and was assigned to devise a gluten-free version of Chef Thomas Keller’s famed Salmon Cornet. The result, which garnered a tearful response from a dinner guest with gluten intolerance, was the genesis of “Cup4Cup.” Since Cup4Cup’s release in 2011, Lena has been honored as one of Forbes’ “30 Under 30” in 2011 and garnered a Zagat “30 Under 30” award in 2012.

See Lena Kwak June 1, 2014 at “Harnessing Creativity (and the Science of Pie)”

Lena-Kwak_C4C

What hooked you on cooking?
It was my mother, who is the quintessential Asian tiger mom. When it came to food, this is how she expressed her love for her family through her cooking. Around meals, I would see how her tough as nails exterior would melt as she watched her family eat the dishes she poured her love into. I would say that is how I learned what I loved about cooking even to this day—it is a way to express care and love and a way to strengthen human connections.
The coolest example of science in your food?
As a chef, I believe the coolest part about cooking is to recognize the series of chemical reactions that occur when you execute a certain recipe. When you begin to understand the technicality behind certain reactions, you are able to hone in on how to make improvements, or for that matter, also innovate a dish based on the science.
The food you find most fascinating?
Funny enough, it’s wheat flour as it’s something I’ve researched heavily over the years. I’ve grown an appreciation for how complex the ingredient is for being made up of a single composition. It provides structure, flavor, coloring, and a wide range of different textures. I’d say it’s the admiration for the ingredient that pushes me to continue the product development of gluten free products, as it would be truly a shame to not be able to experience those wonderful qualities for someone who couldn’t have gluten.
What scientific concept—food related or otherwisedo you find most fascinating?
That’s a tough question as I have always been fascinated with innovation in medical science, but as it related to my profession, I am also thoroughly interested in human science. For consumer product goods companies, such as Cup4Cup, there is a heavy consideration of human eating behaviors. The success of any product is not just based on a perception of a single individual, but the perception of millions of people. so, it is important to understand the average consumer perception within different target categories. What people choose to buy provides us with key insight into what influences human perception.
Your best example of a food that is better because of science?
Chocolate has come a long way from the first records of consumption by the Aztecs and Mayans. Over centuries, it has only been improved by the further understanding of the cacao bean itself. Through science, we’ve been able to figure out processes to improve texture, taste, and performance of chocolate. For example, the improvements that are made through tempering or conching.
How do you think science will impact your world of food in the next 5 years?
Finding solutions to keep up with the supply and demand as populations of the world increase every year and life span of individuals grows longer. It will be interesting and necessary to see what solutions there are to be able to sustain the growing public. To that same point, finding ways to improve the yield of food sources while being sustainable and not destructive to the environment.
One kitchen tool you could not live without?
A spoon.
Five things most likely to be found in your fridge?
Eggs, almond milk, at least one type of hearty greens, hummus, and chocolate covered pretzels (yes, cold).
Your all-time favorite ingredient?
Hands down my favorite ingredient is eggs.
Favorite cookbook?
For favorite cookbook (similar to picking your favorite child) I’d say as of this moment it’d have to be Jerusalem.
Your standard breakfast?
Eggs, sunny side up or a six minute boil, plus starch, vegetable, or grain, plus sautéed greens. (What can I say, I wake up hungry…)

Science & Food UCLA 2014 Public Lecture Series

2014LineUp

The 2014 UCLA Science & Food public lecture series is here!

General admission tickets are available for $25 from the UCLA Central Ticket Office (CTO) . Tickets can be purchased from the UCLA CTO over the phone or in person and will not include additional fees or surcharges. The UCLA CTO is located on-campus and is open Monday–Friday, 10am –4pm. A UCLA CTO representative can be reached during these hours at 310-825-2101. Tickets can also be purchased online from Ticketmaster for $25 plus additional fees. A limited number of $5 student tickets are available to current UCLA students. These must be purchased in person at the UCLA CTO with a valid Bruin Card.


2014ScienceofSushi

The Science of Sushi
Dr. Ole Mouritsen & Chef Morihiro Onodera
Wednesday April 23, 2014 at 7:00pm
Schoenberg Hall, UCLA

In this lecture, Dr. Ole Mouritsen will illuminate the science underlying sashimi, nori, sushi rice, umami, and more.  He will be joined by Chef Morihiro Onodera who will share his approach to sushi as well as an inside look into his partnership with a rice farm in Uruguay.


2014NeuroScience

How We Taste
Dr. Dana Small, Chef Wylie Dufresne, & Peter Meehan
Wednesday May 14, 2014 at 7:00pm
Schoenberg Hall, UCLA

In this lecture, we will explore how we taste from the perspectives of a scientist, a chef, and a food writer. Dr. Dana Small will describe how our brains respond to flavors, and shed light on the link to obesity. She will be joined by Chef Wylie Dufresne who will present his creative approach to generating surprising food flavors and textures.  Peter Meehan will share his experiences with food and taste and how they have shaped his writing, both as a cookbook author and former writer for The New York Times.


2014ScienceofPie

Harnessing Creativity (and the Science of Pie)
Dave Arnold & Chef Lena Kwak
Sunday June 1, 2014 at 2:30pm
Ackerman Grand Ballroom, UCLA

At this event, Dave Arnold will discuss his latest culinary innovations and the role of creativity in food. He will be joined by Chef Lena Kwak who will share her process of invention, research, and discovery in the kitchen. Also at this event, students of the Science & Food course will present the results of their apple pie projects, including their freshly baked pies in a large-scale pie tasting. The event will close with an Iron-Chef style discussion of the winning pies featuring the keynote speakers and renowned judges from the Los Angeles community.