24-358   Special Topics in Culinary Mechanics

Location: Pittsburgh

Units: 9

Semester Offered: Intermittent

This course discusses how mechanical quantities and processes such as force, motion, and deformation influence food and the culinary arts. The aim of the course is to apply important aspects of mechanics to ideas in cooking. Specific topics include: (1) how do stress and strain affect food and its perceived taste; (2) what is the role of cell mechanics in the resulting micro structure of both consumed plant and animal tissues; (3) how can mechanics be used to alter nutrition; (4) what are the roles of common and uncommon mechanical tools such as a knife or mortar and pestle in food preparation. Emphasis will be placed on the biomechanics of edible matter across multiple length scales, including at the tissue, cellular, and molecular levels; additionally, impact on global health and engineering implications will be elucidated. During this course, we will introduce you to these concepts, train you to use them in real world applications, and allow you to pursue a creative group-defined project, which will be shared in both written and oral formats. We will integrate a hands-on kitchen experience in at least 3 specific laboratory classes so that students will get a true feel and understanding for culinary mechanics. We also will be visiting the restaurant of at least one first-rate Pittsburgh chef to gain real world insight into mechanics and cooking.