Subha R Das


Chemistry in the Kitchen

Submitted Aug 6, 2020

The ability to alter and customize the texture and appearance of food and edible ingredients has long been possible through advances in food science and technology. Current molecular or modernist cuisine or the popular misnomer, ‘molecular gastronomy’ that has burgeoned in recent years, is the adoption of ingredients, techniques and equipment typically used in laboratories. These high impact foods and recipes provide a unique opportunity to use the known science of food and ingredients to engage and teach basic principles and even advanced topics in chemistry and biochemistry. The food context provides a motivating opportunity that directs and sustains learning, as students are motivated to learn when they see the usefulness and relevance of what they are learning. Teaching through the real-world context of cooking permits one to apply chemistry and biochemistry to adapt and develop novel recipes and food presentations. The talk will include some demonstrations and highlights from The Kitchen Chemistry Sessions course created by Das and will cover multiple aspects of food molecules with some greater detail into microwave use and how to chocolate mousse.


Approx 45 min talk on various food molecules and how knowing their basic chemistry allows one to deal with them for processing/cooking. Demos on microwave oven function and use. Demo of ‘instant’/9min chocoloate mousse. Q&A


I am trying to set up so I can do a live demo (but having particpants follw along may be too cumbersome)

Speaker bio

Subha R. Das completed his PhD on the synthesis of nucleosides as antiviral agents and was a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Chicago, working on the molecular mechanisms of RNA based enzymes before starting his research lab at Carnegie Mellon in 2007. Over the years, the long hours spent on research and a deep dissatisfaction with the cardboard that passes as pizza in the halls of academia, led him to learn how to maximize flavor in minimal time. Drawing on this learning and advances in molecular gastronomy, in 2008 Das created The Kitchen Chemistry Sessions - courses to teach chemistry through the real-world context of food, cooking and molecular cuisine. An associate professor in the Department of Chemistry at Carnegie Mellon University, Das’s research interests lie in the chemistry of nucleic acids and their applications to biochemistry and nanobiotechnology. His educational goals include communicating and advancing science, particularly chemistry, by making it palatable to a broader audience.


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