Recipes are Research

Hi! It’s spring! Someone please send the commissar of PGH’s weather a message because it’s snowing again….

Weather aside, it’s been the most amazing week. I’ve finally settled on a senior thesis project, my team got into finals for a hackathon…. and…. I got accepted into a selective summer research program! I’m really excited that things are falling into place.

Unfortunately, time in the kitchen has taken a big cut with everything going on, so today’s post will be different. 

Inspiration for this post came from a conversation with one of my friends and fellow foodie. I was telling her about my recipe creation process and we realized that it isn’t too different from the research process. 

So yes, technically all my “food research” is research 😉

Definitely not me LOL.. but you get the point
  1. “Lit search/review”- step 1 is to see what’s been done, how to do it and generate hypotheses. Many find lit review one of the more painful parts of the research process, but doing “lit review” for food is fun. Watch cooking shows and eat things! The key is to pay attention and look for ways to extend the flavours and techniques. My favourite resources are Great British Menu, Chopped and Diners, drive ins and Dives. Each of those shows provide great examples of how chefs push the boundaries of technique and flavour. I’m definitely not as skilled, but there’s much learning and inspiration.
  2. “Methodology/modeling”- once I know what I want to study and have hypotheses, it’s time to figure out the nuts and bolts. For the experienced chefs, no problem- grab the ice cream machine, fire up the immersion blender, pick from the spice rack…. My MO has always been making do with what I have. This step takes almost as much brainpower as the first one in For example, I had to figure out how to set up a stovetop smoker that didn’t cook my fish. This is my favourite part about cooking and academic research.
  3. “Experiment”- finally, it’s time to get into the kitchen. I used to love the actual cooking the most, but I’ve learned that I’m a theorist at heart. Most of the time, it takes at least 3 “pilot studies” before the dish is remotely successful. And, I always do at least one replication 
  4. “Publish”- the last step is to share with you guys! Since I’m also the publisher, there’s no lengthy peer review or nasty rejection letters. If I’m happy with the product, I just type it up and hit publish. 

Sorry for the rambling. I hope this was somewhat insightful.

Have a great week everyone, and until next time, Bye!

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