Molecular Gastronomy Day exposes emerging science of cooking

The Miley cafeteria will be turned into a chemistry lab of sorts this week when Sodexo Dining Services and chemistry students team up to help prepare and serve a menu based on the principles of molecular gastronomy.

“Molecular Gastronomy Day,” scheduled for 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Thursday, March 6, will showcase culinary innovation and show students that chemistry is an important ingredient in everyday life.

Molecular gastronomy for culinary purposes is the use of chemical and physical transformations of ingredients that occur in the cooking process. The “chemicals” are actually food-safe compounds, most of which are derived from seaweed, protein and plant byproducts.

In addition to the regular choices of hamburgers and fries, members of the Salve Regina community will be able to select from a special menu that includes: Chopped salad with balsamic dressing “pearls,” Espuma culinary-infused foam over grilled chicken, gelification of Buffalo sauce over popcorn chicken bites and buttered popcorn sundae with Nutella powder made with liquid nitrogen.

“This is an opportunity for Sodexo and our partners to celebrate culinary innovation and talent,” said Mark Rodrigues, general manager of Sodexo Campus Services. “We’re continually developing programs and techniques to bring excitement and innovation to student dining.”

The Department of Chemistry is donating lab equipment (beakers, flasks, test tubes, etc.) to embellish the food preparation and presentation. Students were eager to climb on board because the event would help them draw attention to their newly formed Chemistry Club on campus.

“This is a good opportunity to make students aware that chemistry can be fun; it’s real life and it’s all around you,” said Dr. Susan Meschwitz, assistant professor of chemistry. “I mean, here you are in the cafeteria and there’s chemistry going on all around you. Students will never think about food the same way again.”

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