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Courses of Molecular Gastronomy in the "Food Innovation and Product Design" curriculum

The Eramus Mundus Master Programme "Food Innovation and Product Design" (www.fipdes.eu) includes a Molecular Gastronomy Transversal Molecule, at Master 2 level.

Specialists of Molecular Gastronomy from various countries are giving courses to FIPDes students.

At level Master 2, students choose to go either in France, or in Italy, or in Sweden.

Course objectives :

This course aims at training high quality professionals of food innovation. It will give :
1. some knowledge produced by the scientific discipline called Molecular Gastronomy,
2. a good undertanding of the different natures of science and technology,
3. a methodology for innovation (technology transfer), including a technological typology.

It is important first to recognize that “food” is what we eat, rather than food ingredients : it is prepared from food ingredients, after some processing (thermal, mechanical...) that we shall call “culinary preparations” or simply “cuisine”.
Culinary activities are sometimes limited to putting parts together, but most of the time they involves physical and chemical modifications, through mechanical, thermal, biological actions.
The aim of the scientific discipline called Molecular Gastronomy is to investigate such modifications and their effects. More precisely, Molecular Gastronomy is the scientific discipline which looks for the mechanisms of culinary transformations during dish preparation and consumption.

Of course, such scientific investigation has applications in education or technology (i.e. improving technique).

In the particular context of the Eramus Mundus Master Programme “Food Innovation and Product Design (FIPDes)”, we focus on :
physical chemistry phenomena which are important during dish preparation (capillarity, convection, etc.)
general chemistry : one should have the theoretical tools needed for recognizing in molecules from food the possibilities of reactions during culinary transformations
organic chemistry phenomena which are important during dish preparation (all the main organic reactions which occur during culinary transformations, such as hydrolysis, condensation, esterification, Maillard/Strecker reactions, etc.)
application to food innovation and product design, including “molecular cuisine” and “note by note cuisine” .

In particular, Molecular Cuisine and Note by Note Cuisine will be discussed, as they are key factors of food innovation.
Moreover, a general technology method will be introduced. It is based on the analysis of many “new” dishes, and includes a “technological typology”1.

Course contents :

As this course’s content corresponds to “Molecular Gastronomy for innovation”, it has to include informations+concepts+methods+values+anecdotes on the various items :

1. Cooking : its social link, art, technique components
1.1. Discovering cuisine : what it is, cultural aspects, history, particular regional developments, ways of doing, organization, relationship with the food industry
1.2. Social link : how it is achieved, how it could be improved, what “eating” means
1.3. The art component of cuisine : what is art, what is culinary art, how artists work, their goals and methods
1.4. The technical component of cuisine
1.4.1. First order descriptions of culinary processes (chemical, physical), based on the use of the “formalism for disperse systems” (DSF)
1.4.2. Green chemistry and cuisine : the extent of chemical modifications during culinary processes and their importance for regulation
1.4.3. The issue of potential vs actual bioactivity (including bioavailability, bioaccessibility, matrix effects)

2. Traditional cuisine :
2.1. Culinary definitions
2.2. Culinary precisions : a key for innovation
2.2.1. How to collect them ?
2.2.2. How to test them ?
2.2.3. What to do with results ?
2.2.4. The “third part”

3. Molecular Cuisine : introducing new tools, new methods, new ingredients
3.1. New tools (liquid nitrogen, rotary evaporator, filters, sonication probes, siphons, pianocktails...)
3.2. New ingredients (additives, various flavourings and food improving agents)
3.3. New methods (various formalisms for innovation)

4. Other culinary trends
4.1. Abstract cuisine
4.2. Culinary constructivism
4.3. Others

5. Note by Note Cuisine : food for tomorrow
5.1. What it is
5.2. How it works
5.3. Questions around (politics, sociology, toxicology, economy, science, technique...)

6. Methodology
6.1 Main processes involved in dishes preparation, How to deal with complex systems (methodology)
6.2. Methodology for food innovation
6.3. Methodology for technology transfer

Teaching and learning methods :

All items from this Course content will link theory and practice.
More generally, the general ideas on which this course is based are discussed extensively in the document Teaching vs Learning2. It includes personal work under the guidance of teachers.
Some activities will be organized with chefs in attendance, because the art component of culinary activities is of primary importance, but also because the technical question should be discussed, in view of innovation based on engineering.
As much as possible, experiment should be linked with calculation.

This educational module includes :
Personal work, either individually or in groups, based on material given by teachers, lecturers and guest lecturers
Case studies
Courses with experiments presented by students in front of all the group
Lectures (including Guest lecturers)
Culinary activities (always leading to critical discussions)
Discussions with culinary artists, either from restaurants or from the food industry
Theoretical and practical “Science and Technology Practical Sessions” (in particular for trainings in the formalism of disperse systems)
Preparation of a critical review of recipes
Food design activities implementing the methodologies which will be taught

Students will be actively encouraged to engage in their own learning through knowledge acquired from lectures, guest lectures, culinary practice (food and beverage) and sensory analysis.
Experiments and cases will be considered as much as possible ; the illustrated culinary transformations will lead to the introduction of scientific ideas in chemistry, physics, biology… before coming back to food, through science based technology reasoning
The best would be that one experimental observation (done by the participants) lead to a model, and then one easy experiment to try to refute the model.

The encyclopaedic approach of food science will be avoided : the necessary data (chemical composition of food, physical phenomena…) will be introduced when needed, and in an ordered way, from first order to subsequent orders of description.
In order to avoid the problems of traditional courses (illustrated phenomena), culinary cases will be considered (transformation and phenomenon). The participants will hear a culinary discourse, but the underlying structure will be chemical and physical.

The (simple) experiments that will be used as starting points and that will lead to the presentation of theoretical notions (chemical, physical, biology) which will be taken from the food industry.
For each case, the chemical as well as the physical aspects will be considered. The theoretical developments will always be in strict relation to the considered phenomena. In particular, calculation will be made only when necessary, but the usefulness of quantitative methods will be shown.

The description of phenomena will always be done by orders of magnitude. The experimental method will be explained.

Finally, various methods (for science, for technology, for technique, for art...) will be introduced during parts 1-5, and a summary will be done at the end, at part 6.

1. Lectures :
Flavour (amino acids, sweeteners, taste modifiers) : Juan Valverde
Antioxidants : Juan Valverde
Plant proteins : Juan Valverde
Seaweed polysaccharides : Juan Valverde
For all lectures, the work asked to students will be to start from the lecture, and build their own development.

2. Research on one publication

3. Setting up and performing experiments to test assumptions (for example, water loss in meat salted before and after grilling)

4. Model a recipe ( describe the molecular events occurring during the preparation of an elaborated culinary preparation)

5. propose (and motivate) modifications of a traditional preparation introducing a different preparation way and of course to realize the preparation

6. Note by Note project : theoretical description and practical implementation

Examination :

The evaluation will be include the analysis of a traditional dish (from an integrated perspective : it should include chemistry, physics, biology, geography, history, culture., technology, process...)
Then the students will have to demonstrate that they have a good perception of the scope of Molecular Gastronomy and the possibilities of application. They will be invited to write a mini-thesis and also to make a practical product being discussed in the mini-thesis.

Evaluation will include assessment of :
the importance of science in innovation
the ability to do the right bibliography (based on the specific courses in this regard)
the understanding of the technology transfer method
the ability to make innovative products
the various skills which are useful in the technology transfer process (including communication with artists, ethics of innovation, etc.)

Competences acquired :

Students who successfully complete this module will :
Have a knowledge of the main physical and chemical phenomena occuring during culinary practice, and in particular food transformation
Understand the work achieved during Molecular Gastronomy activities
Understand how technology works
Know some important applications of Molecular Gastronomy
Be able to produce novel and innovative dishes/drinks using methods, ingredients and techniques introduced as technological applications of Molecular Gastronomy.
Be able to carry out a sensory evaluation of the texture, taste, odor and colour of the newly created dish/drink
Know the methodology for Technology Transfer, Team Management for Food Technology, Problem solving

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