The London Gastronomy Seminars
Upcoming events

We have one upcoming event:

“Reflections on Three Decades of Science in the Kitchen": An Evening with Harold McGee
Wednesday 1st October, 6:30-8:30 PM
Beveridge Hall, Senate House, University of London

2014 marks the thirtieth anniversary of Harold McGee’s seminal work, On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen, a book that ‘became a standard reference, the book to which food lovers and professional chefs worldwide turn for an understanding of where our foods come from, what exactly they’re made of, and how cooking transforms them into something new and delicious. And [along the way] it contributed to the rise of the modern experimental approach to cooking.’

This seminar will provide an opportunity to hear about the rebirth of kitchen science beginning with Nicholas Kurti in the 1960s, how in the 2000s it became so fashionable, and--thanks to being fashionable--not necessarily reliable. We’ll also have ample opportunity for questions and discussion at the end.

About the speaker:

Harold McGee writes about the chemistry of food and cooking. Educated at the California Institute of Technology and Yale University, he left academe to write the 680-page classic On Food & Cooking, which has since become the go-to reference for serious cooks and chefs the world over and helped to instigate the molecular gastronomy movement. His other books include The Curious Cook: More Kitchen Science and Lore and the practical kitchen handbook Keys to Good Cooking: A Guide to Making the Best of Foods and Recipes. He has also contributed to numerous journals and popular publications, including Nature, the New York Times, The Art of EatingFood & WineFine Cooking, and Physics Today. He has taught at the French Culinary Institute in New York, and lectured about food chemistry at the Culinary Institute of America, the MAD Symposium, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Chemical Society.


N.b. Tickets are transferable but not refundable. Tickets will not be sent out, but names will be recorded and checked off at the door. You will need to know the name of the cardholder who booked the ticket.


London Gastronomy Seminar: Tea and Terroir
14 July 2014, 6:30-8:30 PM
Senate House, University of London

Tickets will not be posted; names will be checked off a list on the door. You will need to know the name of the cardholder who bought the ticket.

Like so many British staple foods, tea has been commoditised to the point that most people would probably be surprised to discover that it is an agricultural product. Yet like wine, it is capable of expressing a person, a plant, and a place. This tutored tasting and discussion presents the opportunity to meet a tea grower, Geert Linnebank, and a tea importer, Jameel Lalani, and to hear about the process of tea making, from plant to cup.

Tickets are £15 apiece and limited to 100.

A special ticket that includes a 100g jar of Geert’s LaKyrsiew Black Tea is available for an extra £10, representing an exceptional value for this rare, single-origin tea.

Jameel Lalani is co-founder of Lalani & Co (, a London-based purveyor of single-batch teas. Their aim is to bring provenance and traceability back to premium tea, and curate a selection of rare teas from around the world.

Geert Linnebank is Co-Founder and Director of the Lakyrsiew Tea Company (, planted in 2002 in Meghalaya, India. There he and his wife Nayan grow a mixture of the finest, slow-growing Darjeeling plants and original Chinese varieties and now produce tiny quantities of the finest teas – just 1,200 kgs was made in 2010.


Texture across cultures: Vietnam, China, and the UK

18 June 2013, 6:30 PM
Senate House, University of London

Is gristle delicious, or is it revolting?

What is a pleasing texture?

In Europe and North America, processors of food—whether multi-national corporations or Michelin-starred restaurants—favour the silky, the smooth, and the creamy. This predilection structures everything from our attitude towards vegetables to our choices of cuts of meat: tenderness is everything.

However, this is not universal. In this seminar, we will explore and taste the textural side of gastronomy. We are excited to be joined by Fuchsia Dunlop, the preeminent Western authority on Chinese cuisine, as well as Dr Dominique Valentin, whose research focuses on the cross-cultural elements of food and wine appreciation.

Fuchsia Dunlop is an award-winning food-writer specialising in Chinese cuisine. She trained as a chef at the Sichuan Institute of Higher Cuisine, has travelled widely in China, and is the author of four books about Chinese food, including 'Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of China' and her latest, 'Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking'.

Dominique Valentin is a cognitive psychologist by training, and has worked in the field of sensory evaluation for the past 8 years. She holds a PhD in Cognitive Science from the University of Texas at Dallas. She is currently a senior lecturer at AgroSup Dijon, a food science engineering school, and a researcher at the European Center for Chemical Senses (CESG-CNRS), France. Dr Valentin has published many papers on odour and visual perception.


Microbial ecology, fermentation, and flavour

25 March 2013

Pathogenic microbes are attention whores. It is only now, with the advent and popularisation of sophisticated molecular methods, that benevolent microorganisms are beginning to get some of the attention they so richly deserve. From the advances of the human microbiome project ( ) through to the resurgence of interest in naturally fermented pickles, bacteria, yeasts, and moulds lie at the cutting edge—and direct intersection—of gastronomy and science.

For this reason, we are delighted that our London Gastronomy Seminars 2013 keynote address gathers together some of the leading exponents of the fields of microbiology and culinary invention.

Drs Rachel Dutton and Ben Wolfe of Harvard University have come to prominence for their unique and original combination of research into the dynamics of microbial communities with diverse culinary applications, working with institutions including David Chang’s Momofuku, Noma, and our own Neal’s Yard Dairy.

As Harold McGee told the New York Times, “There really is no one else doing what [Rachel] is doing. Academic microbiologists have not taken an interest in small-scale fermentation, focusing on food safety rather than food quality. There is really only one person at the moment.” In keeping with our seminars’ tradition of tasting the technical, Rachel and Ben will be joined by Dan Felder, head of Research & Development for Momofuku in Manhattan’s East Village, who will speak about the novel fermentations crafted in the restaurant kitchen and about the dynamics of collaboration between chefs and academic researchers.

About the speakers:

Rachel Dutton received her PhD in Microbiology from Harvard Medical School and is currently a Bauer fellow at the Harvard FAS Center for Systems Biology in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her lab studies the microbial communities that make up the rind of cheese, with the goal of understanding the biodiversity of cheese communities, the interactions between cheese microbes, and on developing experimental model ecosystems. Research from the Dutton lab has been featured in Culture Magazine, the Boston Globe, and the New York Times.

Benjamin Wolfe is a microbiologist/mycologist at Harvard University, specializing in the microbiology of fermented foods. He earned his PhD from Harvard studying the evolutionary origins of deadly mushrooms, but has recently shifted to studying more edible fungi: the molds and yeasts that make delicious cheese. He is currently a post-doctoral fellow with Rachel Dutton at Harvard's FAS Center for Systems Biology. He is working on several cheese microbiology projects including the ecology and genomics of staphylococci isolated from cheese rinds, high-throughput DNA sequencing methods for measuring fungal biodiversity in cheese rinds, and comparative genomics of Geotrichum candidum. He's also working on a project to characterize the microbial diversity of American artisan salami.

Originally from Roxbury, Connecticut, Dan Felder has worked in restaurants since he was eighteen. He continued working in the kitchen while earning his degree in Anthropology from Union College before starting at Momofuku in 2008. He cooked at Momofuku Noodle Bar and Ko before taking over as Head of Research & Development in 2011. At the lab, Dan focuses on the intersection of microbiology, food science, and flavor, in collaboration with scientists at Harvard University, UCLA, MIT, Yale, and New York University. In January of 2012, Dan co-published his first article “Defining Microbial Terroir: the use of native fungi for the study of traditional fermentative processes” in the International Journal of Gastronomy and Food Science. He has presented this research with David Chang at MAD Foodcamp in Copenhagen, the Crave Sydney Food Festival in Australia, and at Harvard University and UCLA in the United States.


Malt Whisky and Place

Wednesday 30th January 2012

The whiskies produced on the Hebridean island of Islay are world renowned. But what makes these whiskies unique? Are they manifestations of the physical attributes of the island – the climate, the water, the barley, and the peat – or are they instead the consequence of centuries of craft and human artifice in the form of the malting, brewing, and distilling processes? In a tasting and debate chaired by the esteemed drinks writer Andrew Jefford, we will be joined by representatives from two of the leading Islay distilleries, Bruichladdich and Lagavulin, each to present their case as to how and why their whisky is distinctive.  The aim will not be to ‘prove’ that ‘terroir exists’ or doesn’t exist for malt whisky, but to understand where the differences come from.

About the speakers

Andrew Jefford
Andrew Jefford writes and broadcasts about different places on earth, and the foods, drinks and scents connected with them. He is a contributing editor to both Decanter and The World of Fine Wine and the author of The New France (2002) and Peat Smoke and Spirit: A Portrait of Islay and its Whiskies (2004). Andrew blogs as Jefford on Monday on the website.

Jim McEwan
Production Director and Head Distiller, Bruichladdich Distillery . Jim McEwan was born in the village of Bowmore on the island of Islay in 1948 and started work as an apprentice cooper at Bowmore Distillery at the age of fifteen. Over the subsequent fifty years he has worked in just about every position within the Scotch whisky industry. At Bowmore he gained experience in every aspect of distillation, from warehousing through to mashing and malting; he was appointed cellar master by the time he was twenty two. After eight years in Glasgow to train as a blender,  he returned to Bowmore as general manager in 1984. Looking to move back to the distilling side of the business, in 2001 he joined the team looking to buy Bruichladdich and bring the old Victorian distillery back from the dead.

Widely regarded as the leading ambassador for Islay whisky, Jim has won just about every award possible in the world of malt whisky. He was still at Bowmore when he became the first ‘living whisky hero’ on the cover of Whisky Magazine. The IWSC has named him Distiller of the Year on multiple occasions.

Dr Nicholas Morgan, BA, PhD, FR Hist Soc, FSA Scot
Head of Whisky Outreach, Diageo . Dr Nicholas Morgan is Head of Whisky Outreach at Diageo plc, and is a leading global authority on the Scotch whisky industry, the marketing of Scotch Whisky around the world, and the history of its great blends and personalities.

With over twenty years experience in the Scotch Whisky business his role is to inform, educate and motivate key influencers for the Scotch category and Diageo’s brands, in particular its unrivalled portfolio of Blended Scotch Whiskies. In doing so he works very closely with Johnnie Walker® Master Blender Jim Beveridge and the Whisky Specialist Team in Scotland.

Capturing a share of voice in the global conversation about whisky in all major markets, and targeting whisky writers and experts, bloggers, more general drinks writers, business commentators and food writers with compelling, informative and infectious messages are key to his activities. Diageo’s unrivalled expertise and knowledge, the company’s extraordinary passion for the whisky category, and his own reputation and credibility provide a rich backdrop to this ambition.

Before moving into this newly-created position, his role as Scotch Heritage Director was to champion the deep-rooted heritage of the company and its famous whisky brands in Scotland, conscious that consumers - particularly of Scotch whisky - seek to recognize the provenance of what they are drinking.

Prior to that, he worked for many years in Diageo’s global malt whisky marketing team as Marketing Director where, working closely with flavour experts and distillers, he was responsible for a number of key innovations such as the development of the Talisker™ range, the introduction of the Special Releases programme, and the development of The Singleton™ of Glen Ord™, spending much of his time visiting distilleries in Scotland, and travelling to existing and developing malt whisky markets. He was also responsible for the creation of enduring training programmes to help marketers and external commentators understand more about the mysteries of distillation, maturation and flavour. And he led the category in pioneering, with Diageo’s Classic Malts, the now widespread practice of pairing whisky with food from many countries and traditions.

Nick Morgan originally joined United Distillers (now Diageo plc) in 1990, when he was responsible for establishing the company's archives, now probably the world’s largest collection of historical material relating to the spirits industry.  In the course of this work he has become an acknowledged expert on the history of the Scotch whisky distilling industry.  Diageo plc is the largest producer of Scotch whisky and the largest brand-owning company in the Scotch Whisky industry and Nick Morgan's knowledge of these famous and historic brands (including of course Johnnie Walker, Buchanan’s™, and J&B™), the men and women who created them, and the strategies which made them world famous, is unsurpassed.

Before joining the company he taught modern Scottish History in the Scottish History Department at the University of Glasgow, where he was also responsible for the innovative application of computers to teaching and research throughout the History departments.  In 1993 he published an edited version of his doctoral thesis, Lancashire Quakers and the establishment 1660-1730.  He also completed an introductory chapter on the building of the City for the second volume of the History of Glasgow, and was a contributor and associate editor of the Dictionary of Scottish Business Biography. 

He writes occasionally on a range of subjects related to single malt and blended Scotch whisky, and music.

Georgie Crawford
Site Operations Manager, Lagavulin Distillery. Georgie moved to Islay as a child when her parents bought The Ardview Inn in Port Ellen.  She attended Port Ellen Primary School and later Islay High School, then moved to Crieff.

But her family roots on the island go much further back: on her father’s side, the family traces its origins back to the 13th Century when the MacMhuirrichs (later Currie) clan were the hereditary story tellers to the Lords of the Isles at Finlaggan Castle.

In her early twenties Georgie ran a series of bars and restaurants in Edinburgh before being offered the position of Assistant Venue Manager of The Vaults, the home of The Scotch Malt Whisky Society in 2002, where her love affair with whisky began.  An astonishingly fortunate apprenticeship opened up: she was lucky to work with great whisky enthusiasts and ambassadors and began  to train her nose on a huge range of single malt whiskies.  As well as managing the front of house and members’ room she also sat on the tasting panel, helping to decide what casks were selected for bottling.  She also hosted numerous tasting events not just in Edinburgh but the length and breadth of the country.

After years of living at a fast pace in the capital city Georgie was offered the job of manager of The Whisky Shop Dufftown in early 2006.  This small but famous and busy shop is deeply involved in running events for both the Spirit of Speyside Festival and the Dufftown Autumn Whisky Festival.  Alongside organising and hosting many of the 100+ whisky events the shop hosts every year, she also set up their online retail business.

In 2007, Georgie applied for and was appointed to the Brand Home Manager role at Talisker Distillery, and she moved to Skye in 2007. After two and a half exciting years at Talisker she had set her heart on a move into production so she applied herself to some intensive training in the Glen Ord Group of sites  -  Glen Ord Distillery & Maltings but mostly Teaninich Distillery.

While there, she was approached about a move to Islay as the Manager at Lagavulin; and was delighted to return to Islay 20 years to the week that she left at 13 years old  -  though she had kept her connection to Islay strong by coming home a couple of times a year to visit family.

She says: “Being here at Lagavulin is like being reconnected with a big extended family you didn’t realise you had. Everyone looks out for each other and is genuinely interested and passionate about the product we make here, which I love.”


As promised, the first London Gastronomy Seminar of the 2012-13 season will be on the subject of beer!

In keeping with our LGS traditions, we are pairing a prominent practitioner with a scientist for a discussion and tutored tasting.  The event will be held at the Kernel Brewery in Bermondsey, giving the opportunity to see the brewing process firsthand.  Due to the limited space, numbers are severely restricted.  Buy your ticket early to guarantee a place.

Saturday 20 October 2012

5:00-6:30 PM

The Kernel Brewery



 March 28, 2012, 6:30 PM (approximate duration 90 minutes) Woburn Suite, Senate House, University of London

Flavour and the New Nordic Cuisine is a seminar to celebrate the launch of Flavour, a new interdisciplinary journal covering the psychophysical, psychological and chemical aspects of eating food, as mediated through all the senses. Jointly hosted by the London Gastronomy Seminars, the Centre for the Study of the Senses and BioMed Central, the speakers will explore how flavour shapes our world, including samples of new food and flavourings developed by Noma and the Nordic Food Lab as part of the New Nordic Cuisine.


Per Møller is Associate Professor of Sensory Science at the University of Copenhagen and Editor-in-Chief of Flavour, a new open access journal that publishes research on the psychophysical, psychological and chemical aspects of eating food. Flavour encourages contributions not only from the academic community but also from the growing number of chefs and other food professionals who are introducing science into their kitchens. Per’s particular interest is the psychology of food choice, examining how the sensory parameters of food appearance, texture, odour, and pungency shape consumption habits. His work considers the memory of odours and flavours, and has recently begun probing the critical periods for food habit formation, from the breast-fed infant through to early childhood. He is a major contributor in the emerging field of Molecular Gastronomy, having published over 50 articles since 2001.

Ole Mouritsen is Professor of Biophysics at the University of Southern Denmark where he is director of the Centre for Biomembrane Physics. In his spare time, he cooks and furthers his knowledge of molecular gastronomy. Ever since his first encounter with sushi, he has been addicted to it and has indulged this passion in restaurants around the world, culminating in a book on the topic published in 2009. Currently he is engaged in exploring the use of seaweeds in gastronomy, and he recently published a book on seaweeds as foodstuff. He is an elected fellow of the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters, the Danish Academy of Technical Sciences, and the Danish Gastronomical Academy and is on the Advisory Board of the Nordic Food Lab, the research arm of Noma. He is the recipient of a number of prestigious prizes for his work, most recently the Danish National Prize for Research Communication (2007) and the British Royal Society of Chemistry Bourke Award (2008).

Lars Williams trained as a chef at several of the world’s top restaurants including WD-50 in New York, The Fat Duck in England and Noma in Copenhagen. He is currently Head of Research and Development at the Nordic Food Lab, a non-profit self-governed institution established by head chef of Noma, Rene Redzepi and gastronomic entrepreneur, Claus Meyer with the purpose of exploring Nordic Cuisine, cornerstones of gastronomy and disseminating results from this exploration. His main research interests are fermentation and new umami flavours.


Chocolate: from bean to bar to fantasy

23 January 2012
6:30 PM Senate House
University of London

Everybody loves chocolate. It is a uniquely resonant food. Moving beyond the ubiquitous treat, chocolate is capable of vivid expression of plant, place, and person. The work of a new generation of technically-minded chocolatiers is focused on expanding the boundaries of its potential flavour in a variety of bars and more exotic creations.

Join us for a panel presentation and discussion with three of London's top chocolate specialists:

Martin Christy, editor and founder of the website, is one of the world's leading bean-to-bar chocolate experts. Ten years ago, a music producer trained in IT, Martin founded the one of the first websites to specialise in fine chocolate. This obsession took him to cacao-growing countries, put him in touch with chocolate makers and led him to an exploration of the connections between these worlds. He says, 'The really exciting thing is the journey of rediscovery that many chocolate makers are embarking on. Now with DNA evidence, we have the opportunity to discover tastes that no one has ever experienced before. We are reaching back to the original Mayan and Aztec cacao, back to days when refined chocolate as we know it did not exist. But now with our artisanal industrial techniques, we are creating a completely new world of flavour.'

Paul A. Young is a creative and inspirational chocolatier who is at the forefront of the British chocolate scene. His passion for his craft and his cutting edge creativity have won him numerous awards and have led to him being ranked amongst the World’s best chocolatiers. Paul now has 3 chocolateries in London, has published his first book, 'Adventures with Chocolate' which won the Best Chocolate Book in the World at the Gourmand Book Awards and regularly appears on television. Paul has a reputation as an experimental chocolatier, combining unusual ingredients and developing flavour combinations that are daring test always perfectly balanced.

Raffaella Baruzzo got her start in chocolate working for Chantal Coady at Rococo. She recently launched her own company, Baruzzo, whose mission is to bring to the UK an exclusive selection of fine Italian chocolates.


History and the Modern Cocktail

Monday 7 November, 7 PM
Westminster Kingsway College
76 Vincent Square
Approximate duration: 90 minutes
Tristan will discuss the relevance of historical drinking cultures in the preparation of forward thinking, multi sensory cocktail service. He will look specifically at the history and evolution of rum and gin, and will demonstrate how his team re-creates classic and forgotten mixed drinks with the aid of high-end equipment. The seminar will also showcase some of the ways in which rotary evaporators, sous vide, barrel ageing and biological ageing can be used in a bar environment. 

About the speaker
Tristan Stephenson has been involved in hospitality for 13 years. He has spent most of that time behind a bar, with brief spells as a trainer, brand ambassador and now consultant. In 2009 Tristan co-founded Fluid Movement, a breakthrough events and consultancy company for the drinks industry. This then lead to the opening of Purl, in 2010, and the Worship Street Whistling Shop in 2011. Tristan was awarded Bartender of the Year in 2011, having been nominated for the past two years. Tristan is also an experienced home-brewer, distiller and barista.

The Multisensory Perception of Flavour

With Professor Barry C Smith and Professor Charles Spence

6:30pm, Friday 8th July

Senate House, University of London

Can what you hear influence what you taste?  Is the nose more important for flavour than the mouth?  When it comes to our perception of flavour, does it even make sense to talk about sight, and sound, smell, touch and taste as separate senses?  What can multisensory illusions tell us about how we perceive our surroundings, and how the senses collaborate to give us our picture of the world? Charles Spence and Barry C Smith will explore the neuroscience and philosophy of tasting with some practical demonstrations, and explore the role the brain plays in the pleasures of eating?

About the speakers:

Barry C Smith is a Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Institute of Philosophy in the School of Advanced Study, University of London where he co-directs a Centre for the Study of the Senses. He is the editor of Questions and Taste – the Philosophy of Wine (Oxford University Press 2007). He is a frequent contributor to In Our Time, and Nightwave, and resented a four part series for the BBC World Service on ‘The Mysteries of the Brain’. He is a contributor to The World of Fine Wine and writes a monthly wine column for Prospect Magazine. He has been a visiting professor at the University of California at Berkeley and at the École Normale Supérieure.

Barry has organised three international conferences on Wine and Philosophy, in London, San Francisco and Pollenzo, and spoken twice at the international Wine Active Compounds conference, 2008 and 2011 in Beaune. In addition, he is co-coordinator of an international research project on The Nature of Taste jointly run by the University of London and New York University. His research on flavour perception involves collaborations with oenologists at the Centre de Science de Gout, Université de Bourgogne, and he is a member of the network of the Chaire UNESCO Culture et Tradition du Vin. He is on the editorial board of Territoires du Vin and has been invited to speak at the conference ‘Les climats du vignoble de Bourgogne comme patrimoine de l’humanité’ in Dijon as a contributor to a volume which forms part of the submission to UNESCO to have the Climats de La Cote D’Or recognized as a World Heritage Site.

Professor Charles Spence is the head of the Crossmodal Research Laboratory based at the Department of Experimental Psychology, Oxford University. He is interested in how people perceive the world around them. In particular, how our brains manage to process the information from each of our different senses (such as smell, taste, sight, hearing, and touch) to form the extraordinarily rich multisensory experiences that fill our daily lives. His research focuses on how a better understanding of the human mind will lead to the better design of multisensory foods, products, interfaces, and environments in the future. His research calls for a radical new way of examining and understanding the senses that has major implications for the way in which we design everything from household products to mobile phones, and from the food we eat to the places in which we work and live.

Over the years, Charles has consulted for a number of multinational companies advising on various aspects of multisensory design, packaging, and branding. He has also conducted research on human-computer interaction issues on the Crew Work Station on the European Space Shuttle. Charles and his group are currently working on problems associated with the design of foods that maximally stimulate the senses (together with Heston Blumenthal, chef of The Fat Duck restaurant in Bray). His group also has a very active line of research on the design of auditory, tactile, and multisensory warning signals for drivers and other interface operators (together with Toyota). Charles is also interested in the effect of the indoor environment on mood, well-being, and performance (together with ICI).

Charles has published more than 300 articles in top-flight scientific journals over the last 15 years. Charles has been awarded the 10th Experimental Psychology Society Prize, the British Psychology Society: Cognitive Section Award, the Paul Bertelson Award, recognizing him as the young European Cognitive Psychologist of the Year, and, most recently, the prestigious Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in Germany, not to mention the 2008 IG Nobel prize for nutrition, for his groundbreaking work on the ‘sonic crisp’!


The Miraculous Egg

A simple egg is a marvellous thing.

Not only is the egg a nutritious and versatile food in its own right, it can be used to create structures ranging from a light and airy meringue to a dense and rich custard.  During this seminar, Tom Coultate and David Mason will explain the science behind the egg.  What happens to it when it is heated, moussed, or added to an emulsion?  This seminar will demystify some of the wonderful properties of the humble egg.

About the speakers:

Tom Coultate, food scientist, started his scientific career as a lab technician and then research assistant at Unilever’s Colworth laboratories. In 1972, he graduated from Leicester University with a PhD and moved to London to work as a lecturer in Food Science at London Southbank University. He recently retired as their Principal Lecturer in Food Biochemistry. In the early 1980s the Royal Society of Chemistry asked Tom to write a textbook on Food Chemistry for use by school teachers of both Chemistry and Home Economics. A great success, it is now in its fifth edition and a leading undergraduate textbook for food science courses around the world, and has been translated into Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and Chinese. Tom writes occasional articles for food industry magazines and recently contributed to Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck Cookbook.

David Mason took the passion for food he developed in five years working in the catering industry and transferred it to the classroom, where he taught Food Technology and Catering.  David’s company, Culinary Science, trains school teachers and college lecturers about the important role of science in preparing and cooking food. David strives to promote Food Technology as a professional and academic subject that not only utilises culinary knowledge but also incorporates science and mathematics.


Butter and Vegetable Fat Spreads

Butter is pervasive, both as an ingredient and as a condiment.  At this session, co-hosted by The SOAS Food Studies Centre, accredited butter grader and dairy technologist Jayne Hickinbotham will lead a tutored tasting of yellow fat spreads running the gamut from vegetable-oil based spreads to farmhouse whey butter.  Along the way she'll cover the properties of milk fat, the history of butter and its imitators, the properties of saturated fats and hydrogenated and trans-fatty acids, and the microbial stability of butter.  She'll also debunk some common urban myths surrounding this most familiar of foods.

About the Speaker:

Jayne Hickinbotham joined Dairy Crest Foods in 1980 as a graduate of Bristol University, and held a number of production, technical and grading posts in small, traditional and large, industrial-scale dairies, finally achieving the status of company cheese and butter grader. Since 1990, Jayne has been self-employed, as Dee Dairy Services, providing technical advice on diverse aspects of food safety and quality; she specialises in dairy technology training, developing and implementing HACCP systems and auditing food producers throughout Europe against the supplier approval criteria of UK retailers. Jayne is a trading dispute arbitrator and an accredited butter grader and verification officer with the RPA. Jayne co-authored the SALSA plus SCA module and organises the Dairy Products Section of the Great Yorkshire Show; she is currently building a display model dairy.


Meat Cookery & Sous Vide

There can be no denying that sous vide cookery is fashionable. Chefs from Alain Ducasse to Thomas Keller and Heston Blumenthal are keen proponents of cooking at low temperatures with the ingredients vacuum-packed in plastic bags. Yet sous vide technique is not an instant mark of culinary modernism. Since the French chef Georges Pralus first perfected the procedure in 1974, it has had an abiding attraction for the savvy restaurateur and event caterer, with perfect portion-control and the opportunity to prepare everything well ahead of time.

And at its most basic level, the idea behind sous vide cookery is nothing new. There is a long tradition of enclosing ingredients in an air and water-tight vessel to allow them to cook in their own vapours and preserve delicate aromas and flavours; the container might be a pig’s bladder in the case of cookery en vessie, greaseproof paper (‘en papillote’) or even a salt crust.The novelty of the sous vide approach is in the emphasis placed upon extremely precise temperature control. Rather than briefly shocking a piece of beef at 250°C for fifteen minutes, the same cut of meat might be kept at exactly 54°C for twenty four hours or more, producing an impeccably medium-rare result with no loss of precious juices. These exactingly meticulous cooking temperatures open up an entirely new set of textural possibilities, allowing the chef absolute control.

But at what price? Are we sacrificing crispy textures at the altar of tenderness? Does it push the industrialisation of gastronomy too far? And does it remove us from an intuitive relationship with our ingredients?

Until now, the precision of properly-executed sous vide cookery has always required equipment beyond the reach of the home cook; even professional chefs have largely relied upon second-hand laboratory equipment. We are delighted to present one of the very first UK public demonstrations of a thoroughly-domesticated version of this equipment, followed by a panel discussion on the merits (or otherwise) of sous vide technique.

About the speakers:

Morten Aas, European Business Director of Sous Vide supreme, and Heiko Antoniewicz, a German chef, will be demonstrating a number of different applications of sous-vide cooking and the benefits that this cooking style can offer, with a special focus on meat cookery.  The SousVide Supreme™ is the world's first water oven designed specifically for use in the home kitchen— providing the everyday cook with easy access to the beneficial culinary style of sous vide.Tom Coultate, food scientist, started his scientific career as a lab technician and then research assistant at Unilever’s Colworth laboratories. In 1972, he graduated from Leicester University with a PhD, and then moved to London to work as a lecturer in Food Science at London Southbank University, from where he recently retired as Principal Lecturer in Food Biochemistry. In the early 1980s the Royal Society of Chemistry asked Tom to write a textbook on Food Chemistry for use by School Teachers of both Chemistry and Home Economics. The success of this book means it is now in its 5th edition and is a leading undergraduate textbook for food science courses around the world, and has been translated into Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and Chinese. Tom writes occasional articles for food industry magazines and recently contributed to Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck Cookbook.

Rowley Leigh, chef proprietor of Le Café Anglais ( is one of the founding fathers of modern British cooking. After Cambridge University he tried his hand at farming and novel writing before falling into cooking 'almost by accident' in 1977. After a couple of years at the Joe Allen restaurant, he went to work with the Roux brothers at Le Gavroche in 1979. After stints at Le Gavroche, the brothers' pastry laboratory and becoming buyer for the group, he took over their prestigious Le Poulbot restaurant as head chef in 1984, receiving many accolades including the Times restaurant of the year award in 1986. He opened Kensington Place Restaurant with Nick Smallwood and Simon Slater in 1987. Quickly hailed by he Times as restaurant of the year, Kensington Place and its blend of brilliant food and an informal and buzzy atmosphere set the pattern for London restaurants in the 1990's. In the same decade, Rowley started a career as a cookery writer, winning the prestigious Glenfiddich award three times with the Guardian, the Sunday Telegraph and the Financial Times. He remains cookery correspondent of the Financial Times. His much accoladed book, No Place Like Home, was published in 2001. He left Kensington Place in December 2006 in order to open Le Café Anglais in 2007.


Cheddar Cheese

In many ways, the modern cheesemaker has a less sophisticated understanding of his product than his great-grandmother did.

Recently rediscovered, Dora Saker’s Practical Cheddar Cheese-making (1917) has acquired cult status amongst cheesemakers.  Through a series of ad-hoc workshops, they have gone back to re-examine the tenets of Cheddar cheese making, experimenting with pre-ripening raw milk to encourage the development of non-starter lactic acid bacteria, cutting the curd at different times to change its structure and ability to lose moisture, and slowing the make to encourage the development of different flavours and texture.  Continued experimentation has given the participants a more sophisticated understanding of—and level of control over—the complex factors at play in raw milk cheese making.   Their experiments have also revealed the extent to which the ‘traditional’ recipe for Cheddar cheese has changed in the past century.  Factors that have been taken for granted—like the best breed of cow for Cheddar cheese making, or the appropriate texture of the curd at milling—are suddenly being reexamined at every turn. Ultimately, this work serves to challenge our very understanding of what Cheddar cheese is.  This presentation will give a chance to experience cheeses at the centre of the British cheese revolution.


Randolph Hodgson is the owner and Chairman of Neal’s Yard Dairy. He was born in 1956, and after an upbringing in Hong Kong, read Food Science and Chemistry at King’s College, University of London.  He has only ever had one job; Neal’s Yard Dairy was founded in 1979. A cheesemaking business, Neal’s Yard Creamery, was spun off in 1985.  

In 1990, Randolph founded the Specialist Cheesemakers’ Association, which represents over 150 British farmhouse cheesemakers.  His impact on London’s food scene extends beyond the confines of the cheese industry: in the late 1990s, he was instrumental in the development of Borough Market as London’s leading gastronomic retail destination.  Faced by the demise of raw milk Stilton, in 2005 Randolph established Stichelton Dairy with Joe Schneider on the Welbeck Estate in Nottinghamshire, with the aim to revive Stilton cheese made with unpasteurised milk. 

Randolph was awarded an OBE in 2007 for his contribution to the British cheese industry.

Bronwen Percival was educated at Wellesley College and Oxford University.  After two years in the Peace Corps in Senegal, she returned to make cheese at a dairy in New Jersey.  Further study at Oxford brought her into contact with Randolph Hodgson and Neal’s Yard Dairy; she left academe to assume a role within the company.  Bronwen is now the cheese buyer, working with Randolph on new cheese development, quality assurance, and selection.


From plant to cup: flavour in coffee and wine

(Hosted by the Centre for the Study of the Senses, Institute of Philosophy, School of Advanced Study)


James Hoffmann, Square Mile Coffee Roasters and World Barista Champion 2007

James Hoffmann and his partner Anette Moldvaer own Square Mile Coffee Roasters.  He provides training, education and consultancy to a broad spectrum of the coffee industry, including barista training, course development, general coffee education, cupping and tasting training and more café-specific advice and consulting. He publishes a coffee blog, James was the World Barista Champion in 2007.

Jamie Goode, author, Wine Science

Jamie Goode is a London-based wine writer who came to the field via a PhD in plant biology and several years of working as a book editor. He publishes, which is now one of the leading wine websites. He won the 2007 Glenfiddich Wine Writer of the year award, writes the weekly wine column for The Sunday Express, and contributes regularly to a range of publications including World of Fine Wine, Wine Business International and Wines and Vines. His first book, Wine Science, won the Glenfiddich Award for Drinks Book in 2006. He's currently working on a book on Natural Wine.


Flavour extraction

(Hosted by the Centre for the Study of the Senses, Institute of Philosophy, School of Advanced Study)

Keynote speaker:    

Hervé This is a physical chemist at the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA) in Paris.  He has achieved international renown for his part (along with the late Nicholas Kurti) in developing molecular gastronomy as an academic discipline. 

He is scientific director of the French Academy of Sciences’ “Food Science & Culture” foundation, which runs seminars and scientific courses. Hervé has also collaborated extensively with chefs from around the world, developing new tools and innovative approaches in the professional kitchen.  Three-Michelin-starred chef Pierre Gagnaire works closely with Hervé to develop recipes based on themes from his molecular gastronomy research. Other speakers:

Tony Conigliaro owns the bar at 69 Colebrooke Row and is one of the UK’s pioneering drinks creators. He has spearheaded the area of the industry that has embraced the science of chemistry and utilizes equipment more commonly seen in pharmaceutical laboratories and industrial kitchens such as centrifuges, rotovapour, sous vides, pot stills, cold smokers and water baths. Tony has helped open and run bars for almost 12 years, during which time he has won numerous awards, including International Bartender of the Year 2009. John Forbes a chemist with over 30 years experience in the analysis and isolation of natural molecules from essential oils for flavour and perfumery use, and is an Essential Oil Research and Development Manager for a world-leading, independent ingredients supplier to the flavour and fragrance industries. He is actively involved in the production of aqueous distillates from fruits and vegetables, and works with a vast range of products, from purified essential oils and natural fractions, including those certified as Organic and Fair for Life, to high impact specialty aroma chemicals. Typical applications include soft drinks, confectionery, oral hygiene and basic pharmaceutical products.

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