The latest episode of Science Goes to the Movies (Season 2, Episode 2) uses the film Burnt and Fantastic Voyage to explore the science and technology of cooking. The guest is Dr. Kent Kirshenbaum, a biochemistry professor at New York University. He is also part of the Experimental Cuisine Collective, which makes him an even better guest.
The tools and techniques of molecular gastronomy figure into the plot of Burnt, allowing hosts Faith Salie and Dr. Heather Berlin to discuss that school of cooking with Kirshenbaum. He’s very good at explaining the technology, how these devices operate, and how the differences between these techniques and conventional methods affect the final dish. Kirshebaum also mentions the precision nature of his non-culinary chemistry research (fine-tuning pharmaceutical molecules and exploring the dynamics of protein folding and unfolding) and how culinary science can make it easier for people to eat less meat.
I think Alton Brown might just approve.
The second season of Science Goes to the Movies is being released weekly, and the next few episodes promise a wide variety of topics. Episode three will deal with The Knick and what passed for modern medicine around 1900, and future episodes will dive into Doctor Who, post-apocalyptic economics (of the variety seen in The Hunger Games), and ocean life (with a Cousteau holding forth!). You can watch CUNY TV live if you’re in the New York City area, but new episodes are coming online within a few days of initial broadcast, so just be patient if you’re nowhere near the five boroughs.