Five ways chefs use science in the kitchen

Posted in Articles

Science underpins much of what happens in cooking. From knowing how different flavours work together to know the formulae for the perfect sauce, chefs use science every day.

Here are just five ways that a chef might use science in their kitchen:

  • Temperatures – Chefs need to know the temperatures they need to cook their food to so it turns out the way they want…Did you know the difference between delicious caramel and burnt sugar can be as little as 6°C?
  • Working with recipes – Chefs need maths so they can prepare their recipes for different numbers of people. If they understand the ratios of ingredients within their recipes, they can prepare them for a handful of people at a dinner table, or a hundred people at a big event
  • Making sauces – Sauces like mayonnaise are often a mixture of oil and an acid like lemon juice or vinegar. These two substances don’t mix on their own, so to make mayo chefs need to use an egg to bind them together. Chefs have to know how to add these ingredients in the right amounts at the right speed to avoid making a disgusting mess
  • Food safety – For a chef or anyone working in a kitchen, an understanding of how germs spread is essential for preventing food poisoning and illness, and keeping their restaurant open for business
  • Sourcing ingredients – Science plays a big role in ensuring that chefs get the ingredients they need. Some use ecology when planning their menus, by thinking about what fruits and vegetables are available throughout the year

These are just a few of the ways that chefs use science – especially chemistry, biology and maths – to prepare their food.

But some chefs are taking it even further.

Heston Blumenthal used science to shape his cookery and it won him a Michelin star…