As of Autumn 2019 Imperial College’s Chemistry students will take part in an innovative new module designed with Kitchen Theory that mixes chemistry lab skills with modernist culinary techniques.
Over a three year period, Kitchen Theory is working with Imperial’s Department of Chemistry to develop and deliver a unique interdisciplinary module -‘Introduction to Culinary Practice’ -which introduces first year chemistry students to the parallel world of culinary science.
The project initially came about based on a discussion between KT founder chef Jozef Youssef and Professors Roger Kneebone and Alan Spivey of Imperial College. They found many parallels existed between work carried out in the chemistry lab and that of a professional cook, but most interestingly their discussion brought to light the general lack of practical training offered to chemistry students in the lab, especially when compared to culinary school students. Imperial College, being one of the most forward thinking institutions in the world, is always looking at innovative ways to improve their student’s experience and support them in their academic journey, and so they felt something could be done to improve the practical training and support offered to their chemistry students.
“Whether you want to be a chemist or a chef skills such as meticulous planning and detailed observation and recording are vital. The plan is to encourage safe experimental practice, practical reproducibility and appreciation of the often overlooked parallels between the practice of chemistry and myriad other activities.” Alan Spivey, Professor of Synthetic Chemistry and Assistant Provost at Imperial College
The result was the Chemical Kitchen; a cross disciplinary laboratory located within Imperial College that will introduce students to culinary practices and techniques aimed at improving their practical skills, planning, creativity, precision, dexterity, observation and application of knowledge.
“The Chemical Kitchen will encourage social cohesion amongst students, developing a sense of collegiality rather than competition within a safe environment that encourages personal growth and supportive behaviour.” Roger Kneebone, Professor of of Surgical Education at Imperial College
As always Kitchen Theory is thrilled to be involved in an innovative project that brings further meaning and importance to the role of gastronomy in education and beyond. The Chemical Kitchen will grow to serve as a hub of innovation within Imperial, using gastronomy as a medium for encouraging multi disciplinary collaboration.
The Experts Behind the Chemical Kitchen
Roger Kneebone directs the Imperial College Centre for Engagement and Simulation Science (ICCESS), based within the Division Surgery on the Chelsea & Westminster campus. The Centre’s aim is to advance human health through simulation, collaborating closely with clinicans, scientsts, patients, publics and experts outside medicine. Roger and his co-director Dr Fernando Bello lead a vibrant multidisciplinary research team.
The founder and creative force behind Kitchen Theory. Jozef’s years of experience in London’s most highly acclaimed Michelin star restaurants coupled with his passion for gastronomy, art and science led to him establishing Kitchen Theory. Youssef is also the author of Molecular Gastronomy at Home, and is an associate editor at the International Journal of Gastronomy and Food Science.
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Alan Spivey is Professor of Synthetic Chemistry in the synthesis section of the Department of Chemistry Imperial College London. He began his research career studying for a DPhil with Professor Sir Jack Baldwin (Oxford University) developing new syntheses of enantiomerically pure beta-substituted alpha-amino acids.