Chris Thompson: The Science and Chemistry of Cooking | On the House #44

In this episode, host Gabriella Joustra is joined in the studio by Professor Chris Thompson, a chemistry professor and science educator

Have you ever wondered how to slice an onion without a tearful farewell? Or how to keep the cheese from looking lumpy? You are taken on a gastronomic episode by Chris Thompson, who shares the hidden science and chemistry behind your kitchen staples and tips on the cooking method that simplifies your life and will make you love cooking.

Meet Professor Chris Thompson

Professor Chris Thompson, currently the Director of Education at Monash University’s Biomedicine Discovery Institute, is renowned for his pioneering work in science education. Chris’s research aims to revolutionize science education, focusing on developing graduate employability skills and fostering inquiry-oriented learning.

His dedication to innovative learning methods, including STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math), reflects his commitment to enhancing student experiences. Chris, co-author of Australia’s leading foundation chemistry textbook, is passionate about breaking down barriers between scientists and the public, emphasizing effective communication of scientific findings.

Chris’s interests include literature, television, and politics. He is captivated by Albert Camus’ “The Outsider” and enjoys exploring complex moral dilemmas. As a fan of “Star Trek: Picard,” he appreciates thought-provoking storytelling and ethical explorations, highlighting his love for narrative depth.

Chris’s diverse interests extend to politics and history. He is keenly fascinated by American politics and the intricacies of conspiracy theories. Drawing inspiration from his mother’s leadership as a school principal, Chris applies her teachings to his educational role. Chris exemplifies a commitment to lifelong learning and intellectual curiosity through his multifaceted pursuits.

About the episode

Household management is all about saving time, especially when using electricity wisely. Chris Thompson points out that knowing when electricity costs more can save you money. He suggests simple changes like running appliances when electricity costs less, which could save you hundreds every year. Thompson also talks about how cooking is like a science experiment.

When you cook, you mix different things to make something new. Chris explains that everything you cook with comprises tiny parts called atoms and molecules. He clears up some misunderstandings about chemicals, saying that not all of them are bad. Knowing what’s in your food can make it taste better and keep you safe.

Chris discusses how different flavors work together when you eat. He gives examples, like how adding a bit of salt can make food taste better. He also explains why salt is important in cooking. It doesn’t just make food taste better; it also helps with how food feels in your mouth.

He says your body needs some salt to stay healthy and that using the right amount can make food taste just right. Moreover, Chris encourages trying new ingredients to get the flavors just right.

He also discusses some common kitchen problems and how to fix them. Whether it’s keeping pasta from sticking or stopping yourself from crying while chopping onions, Chris has simple tricks to help. Plus, he shares the secrets to keeping your cheese smooth and velvety, steering clear of any unsavory lumps. 

But that’s not all—get ready to demystify the magic of the Maillard reaction. Chris breaks down the impact of heat and acid on this culinary transformation. Overall, Chris’s advice on managing your home and cooking smarter can help you make better meals without spending too much time or money.

In conclusion

Who says cooking is burdensome? When you approach cooking as a science and chemical experiment, you can discover that cooking smarter can make your life easier in the kitchen. Trying out new ingredients and using simple tricks from this episode to solve your kitchen problems can make cooking fun instead of a chore.

So, next time you’re in the kitchen, remember these tips and enjoy making delicious meals without all the fuss!.

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