New science and cooking videos out!

Its been a long time coming, but our SCIENCExCOOKING videos are finally out! A collaboration between Young Chefs Program: From Cooking to Science and various entities at Harvard University, these videos capture some of the science in everyday cooking. They demonstrate the beautiful physics and chemistry of food and inspire you to think more deeply about the food you cook, ultimately inspiring you to take your culinary creativity and inspiration to new heights.

This work was a collaboration between Harvard University and Young Chefs Program, funded partly by Harvard MRSEC and by Harvard COOP public service grant.

Have a look!


New lesson: Heat Diffusion/Molten Chocolate Cake

We are super excited to launch a new lesson focused on the concept of heat diffusion.

This lesson was developed in collaboration with Harvard SEAS and uses molten chocolate cake to illustrate heat and energy transfer through matter.

Read the description below – it’s now available to request!

I Lava Science: Exploring Heat Diffusion through Molten Chocolate Cake

The heat diffusion constant in water is a physical constant that can be measured (with varying accuracy) in many ways. This lab guides you through the most delicious one! By baking molten chocolate cake, you will study how heat transfers into cake batter as the cake cooks, resulting in a “crust front” that moves toward the center of the cake as the batter gradually reaches the temperature at which it solidifies. By taking temperature measurements along the way, you will be able to calculate the heat diffusion constant of cake batter, and since cake batter is primarily made of water, this will not be far from the heat diffusion constant in water — or so we think, let’s see what diffusion constant you and your classmates arrive at! Ice cream made with liquid nitrogen is made by the opposite process (Part II). The ice cream ingredients are almost instantly cooled down when brought in contact with the liquid nitrogen at -196˚C. Since larger ice crystals do not have time to form, the result is an ice cream that is very smooth in texture.

Cooking and Science Symposium at ACS Boston this summer – join us!

We would like to invite you to submit an abstract to give an oral presentation in the symposium Approaches to Using Food and Cooking to Engage Diverse Audiences in Science at the ACS National Meeting in Boston, MA from August 19 – 23, 2018.
The deadline for abstracts is MONDAY MARCH 26 – about two weeks from now.
Description of symposium:
Approaches in using food and cooking to engage diverse audiences in science
This symposium will address using food and cooking as a way to teach chemistry and related subjects. Presenters from a wide variety of backgrounds and institution types are invited to submit abstracts, including college, community college, tribal college, K-12 and informal science educators. The purpose of this symposium is to bring together diverse types of educators to find ways to collaborate and share strategies and challenges for implementing science and cooking activities in a variety of settings.
The abstract submission process can be started here:
Please feel welcome to forward this announcement to any colleagues who may also be interested.
We hope to see you in Boston! Thank you for your consideration.

Launching STEAMeD, a professional development program for teachers

New outreach program enables teachers to bring food and cooking experiments into their classrooms

Harvard University’s long-standing efforts to equip a new generation of teachers with cutting-edge teaching methods takes an exciting turn with the creation of a new venture, SteamED.

SteamED is a collaboration between the Science and Cooking program, developed by the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), Young Chefs, and the Harvard Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC).

It adapts exercises from the popular Science and Cooking course and Young Chefs to fit Massachusetts state science standards, and is a rare opportunity for highly motivated teachers to bring these exercises into their classrooms.  Teachers, community program instructors, and after school program leaders are invited to register (see link below).

Participants will earn 18 PDP points in STEM for participation in the workshops and will receive exclusive access to curriculum and resources, including 27 lesson plans for use in a variety of classroom settings and covering a range of concepts, from experimental design to physical science. Teachers also receive equipment necessary to implement the four lesson plans covered in the two Saturday course sessions.

Dates and times: 

Saturday, Nov. 11, 9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Saturday, Nov. 18, 9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.


“Chili Infusions: Exploring solubility is so hot right now”

“Pickles: Not your basic vegetable”

“Tortillas: The corny processes of polymer crosslinking and starch gelatinization”

“I Lava Science: Exploring heat diffusion through molten chocolate cake”



  • Attend both sessions, Nov. 11 and Nov. 18.
  • Write a reflection on plans for implementing lessons in your classroom.
  • Participate in a call-back and sharing session in January.
  • ​Provide feedback via online surveys or focus groups.

Workshops are free of charge. Lunch is provided each day.

Register here:

For questions, please contact:


Young Chefs and NAHSSP 2017

We just wrapped up another fantastic set of Young Chefs Program: From Cooking to Science workshops! We spent the last two days with the teachers and students part of the Harvard Medical School Native American High School Summer Science Program (   This program brings high school students and teachers from the Hopi and Fort Peck Reservations to Harvard University for three weeks of college-level science education. The focus is to communicate science concepts as it relate to their everyday lives and to empower students to become change-makers in their own communities. Naturally, two years ago we added a cooking-science component to engage students with the chemistry, biology, and physics of the kitchen. 

This year we had 14 students and 4 chaperones from the two communities. We first learned about the molecular solubility and neuroscience of capsaicin, the spicy molecule in chili peppers. Extracting this molecule into butter, we showed that it is hydrophobic and then used the spicy butter for a creative shrimp cocktail. The second day we spent learning about the physics of polymers and how their properties shape the texture of food. We made tortillas from scratch and measured their elasticity to quantify the perfect texture. The tortillas eventually became vehicles for delicious lobster tacos.

We were inspired by the Young Chefs chili and tortilla lesson plans, which you can find here:

One of the most rewarding and fun teaching experiences this year! We are excited to continue this tradition every year!

Report from Northfield, MN – the founding Young Chefs chapter

Graduating Carleton College senior Kharmen Bharucha elegantly recounts her experiences during her last semester leading the Young Chefs program at the local middle school in Northfield, MN.

Last term at Northfield Middle School, instead of using lesson plans that covered different science topics every week, we decided to teach a series of protein-themed lesson plans. These included: Puffy Pancakes: The Science of Foams; Caramelizing Catalysts: Exploring Catalysts Through Caramelized Onions; Do Curds Just Want to Be Cheese? No Whey! Exploring Enzymes Through Homemade Burrata Cheese; and What’s the Deal with Eggs?: Demystifying Heating and Whisking Eggs.

After four weeks, the Young Chefs were familiar with protein structure, amino acids, foams, denaturation, enzymes, and catalysts! These are complex topics that merit months and months of study. The repetition seemed to help the students be more comfortable learning new science concepts. Furthermore, the spacing effect stipulates that learning is greater when studying is spread out over time. We saw this in action! The students seemed to remember more and more after each week. For example, during our first introduction to proteins, students knew that muscles were made of protein. We discussed that proteins are made of amino acids. During week 2, during a recap of the material we had covered last week, we asked students what proteins are made of. Some, but not all, students remembered that proteins are made of amino acids. During week 3, most students were able to remember that proteins are made of amino acids. We think that spacing out the information helped reinforce the concepts with the students. However, since each lesson plan addressed a different aspect of protein science, the students did not seem to be bored by the material. It is really important to us that our students are engaged while learning science and have positive associations of it. Having a lesson plan theme helps us accomplish our goals of teaching students science and making it fun!

If you are interested in leading a series of lessons with a scientific theme, view the “Curriculum Overview: Standards, Skills, and Connectivity” document at and consult the Lesson Plan Grid: Culinary and Scientific Concepts. This is an excellent resource that displays which lesson plans address the same scientific concepts. For example, you could lead a science theme of starch gelatinization (bisque, risotto, tart); pH (caning salsa, pickles, cookies); sensation, perception, and taste (umami, chilies); density and emulsions (salad dressing, smoothies); physical and chemical changes (popcorn, chocolate, ice cream, cheese, salad dressing, onions, and pancakes). Regardless of whether you lead Young Chefs with a theme, we hope you have a good time and look forward to hearing about your experiences!


Volunteer training for East Boston YMCA collaboration

Yesterday we worked with the amazing volunteers who will be leading this semester’s ten-week afterschool program at the East Boston YMCA teaching kitchen. Led by teaching kitchen director Alexis Daniels, this program will introduce Young Chefs lessons to Boston  youth in both Spanish and English. Young Chefs visionary advisor and Harvard PhD student Vayu Maini Rekdal is helping build the curriculum and train volunteers. More updates will be available soon – read more about the collaboration here:



Young Chefs and Harvard Ed Portal collaborates to pilot curriculum in undergraduate mentoring program

This past fall, Young Chefs partnered with the Harvard Ed Portal to bring the cooking-science curriculum to students in Boston.

The pilot collaboration was launched as part of a new addition to the Ed Portal’s undergraduate mentoring program, which connects Harvard undergraduate mentors with children and youth from grades 1-12. Approximately 30 Harvard College undergraduate students serve as Ed Portal Mentors each semester and these undergraduates mentor students in subjects as diverse as math, science, writing, and the arts. Young Chefs and the Ed Portal have previously worked together in science-cooking summer programs. Piloting a cooking-science program during the semester seemed like a natural way to extend the opportunities for learning into the school year.

The initial pilot this past fall of 2016 included Harvard College mentors Tina Huang and Ellen Jang-Milsten, who led the program, as well as five student participants who embarked on a semester-long culinary and scientific journey. Through weekly classes, students engaged with some of Young Chefs’ most exciting lesson plans, including the science of pancakes and foams, ice cream and phase transitions, pretzels and chemical reactions, starches and soups, smoothies and density, and chocolate and crystal formation. Young Chefs co-founder and Harvard PhD student Vayu Maini Rekdal supported the implementation of the curriculum, while Susan Johnson of the Harvard Bok Center for Teaching and Learning supervised the undergraduate teaching and curriculum at the Ed Portal.

The program was a huge success and will continue in the spring of 2017. While Young Chefs lessons are the basis of the experiments and concepts that students engage with in the program, the undergraduate mentors have brought their unique perspectives and skills to adapt to the mentoring setting. For example, instead of using traditional lab notebooks, participants used yellow stick notes and the white board to communicate their hypotheses and results. Students enjoyed writing on the white board and the mentors also found it helpful the experiment was drawn on the whiteboard and then students filled in what was happening at each stage.

In addition to adapting the teaching style and materials, the undergraduate mentors changed some of the lesson content to better fit within the time constraints of the weekly classes. A key trick for the mentors was to read through whatever lesson plan they would use and then cut things out or add content as appropriate. For the mentors, it became noticeable easier to adapt content after the first couple weeks because the students’ needs became clearer. For example, in some lesson plans mentors added a game because that seemed to help the students learn better.

After a successful first semester, the program has clearly provided exciting learning opportunities for students, mentors, and the people behind Young Chefs alike.  We are excited to see this program grow into the future and improve and expand the implementation of Young Chefs lesson plans!

Blog post by Vayu Maini Rekdal, Young Chefs co-founder



Young Chefs Welcomes New Advisory Board Member

We are excited to announce that Worthy Cho, former Young Chefs treasurer and volunteer for three years and graduate of Carleton College ’15 has joined the advisory board.


Director’s Financial Analyst at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in Washington, DC

Worthy Cho graduated form Carleton College in 2015 with a bachelors degree in Economics. From a young age, Worthy has had a passion for cooking and baking that persist till today. She loves the opportunity that Young Chef’s provides for individuals to give back to their communities and connect with students through food. Worthy aided in launching the Young Chef’s program at Carleton College, and currently serves as a strategic adviser on the advisory board. In this role, she creates comprehensive solutions and implements innovative strategies with the goal of establishing the Young Chefs brand. She most closely identifies with cauliflower as her vegetable personality.