4 March 2024

“We need more knowledge in the chef’s hats”


With the new book Gastrofysik & smagshåndværk (Gastrophysics & Flavor Craftsmanship,) the bridge between food science, culinary education, and kitchens is set to be strengthened. This is imperative, as insights into the physical and chemical processes of food will let us embrace a more sustainable food culture with knowledge and creativity.

Page from the book
The book Gastrofysik & smagshåndværk (Gastrophysics & Flavor Craftsmanship) provides both scientific explanations and illustrations of cooking, allowing the reader to gain a deeper understanding of the gastro-physic processes and thus approach the kitchen with more creativity.

How can one make a cucumber salad that stays crisp for longer than five minutes? Why can onions brown until they caramelize, while broccoli needs sugar added to it? And why is it that egg yolks manage to bind oil and water, which otherwise wouldn't combine?

These are the types of questions that the new book, Gastrofysik & smagshåndværk, aims to spark in its readers. It encourages you, as a craftsman of flavor, to not only ask what needs to be added to a dish but also why. Because when you know that it's lecithin in egg yolks that binds water and oil together, it's natural to explore if there's something else that can do the same.

"Our main goal with this book has been to better connect craftsmanship to knowledge about food. When you understand some of the science behind culinary processes, you can start thinking innovatively. That's why we need more knowledge in chef hats," explains Ole G. Mouritsen, co-author, professor emeritus at the Department of Food Science (KU FOOD) and former director of the center Smag for Livet, the work on which Gastrofysik & smagshåndværk is based.

Unfolding Tacit Knowledge

While everyone who spends time in the kitchen can benefit from the book's gastro-physics insights, exercises, and recipes, Ole G. Mouritsen particularly sees culinary schools and their students as recipients who can get the most value of it. This applies to both their skills, professional pride, and towards developing a sustainable food culture where neither taste nor texture is compromised.

"Chefs still undergo a sort of apprenticeship where there's a lot of tacit knowledge. They learn a range of culinary techniques that could be explained through science. For example, emulsions for making sauces. But even though they learn to make the perfect béarnaise sauce, there's less understanding of what actually makes it perfect. So, there's a lot of experience and a lot of tacit knowledge that we want to unfold and articulate. Because when you understand the processes better, you might also be able to invent something new. And that's needed," says Ole G. Mouritsen.

He and the co-authors have placed great emphasis on balancing the book's chapters to reflect what is called the future planetary menu. This means, among other things, that considerably more emphasis is placed on the plant-based kitchen and all the untapped foods to be found in the sea – as well as all the possibilities those foods have if approached with scientific insight.

"We need this knowledge out there where it really counts. Both in individual kitchens, but especially among chefs and culinary students, as they will be making 1.5 – 2 million meals a day. In canteens, restaurants, and in catering. It's a really large field, and that's why it's so important for it to be integrated into the green transition, right from the education of future chefs," says Ole G. Mouritsen.


Ole G. Mouritsen
Professor emeritus, Department of Food Science


Thomas Sten Pedersen,
Communications Officer, Department of Food Science