After-dinner Talk, Monell Chemical Senses Center, Philadelphia, USA, September 2000
The late Nicholas Kurti, Oxford physicist and gastronome, pointed out that man now understands more about the interior of stars than he does about the inside of a soufflé. Aiming to correct this imbalance, he instituted a biennial series of conferences on “Molecular Gastronomy” – the application of science to the gastronomic art – at the Ettore Majorana Centre in Erice, Sicily, more famed for high level conferences on such subjects as high energy physics or the origin of the Universe. Here a group of Michelin-star chefs and a few lucky scientists such as myself (usually with a few Nobelists, bored with their own conferences, thrown in) foregather every two years to toast Nicholas’s memory and to push forward his programme of culinary science. In this talk I will reveal some of the gastronomic secrets that have emerged, and discuss how much science has contributed and may yet have to contribute to the noble art.