FDSC 2300: Chef’s Chemistry

Its slope week/the last week of classes here at Cornell and its definitely bittersweet.  While I can’t wait for classes to finally be over, its hard for me to look back and think that I’ve really been here for an entire year.  I’ve done some amazing things in just one year at Cornell but that also means I only have three more years to make the most of it!

On that note, a lot of exams and final papers are coming up and last night was the final ‘exam’ for FDSC 2300: Chef’s Chemistry.  This is a one credit class taught in the food labs of one of the food science buildings that brings together nutrition, food science, and hotel administration students.  Each week we focus on a new topic; the first class taught us about how to make the perfect chocolate chip cookie, another class focused on buffalo wings and the differences in buffalo sauces, another on wine, another on bread-making, etc.  The first few weeks went a little like this:


In each class, we had a different guest chef/lecturer come in and teach the class about a certain food-related topic, often completing a cooking demo, explaining how it relates to food science, nutrition and  hospitality.  After about an hour, we would then break into 7 groups of 3-4 people and make these dishes that the chef’s demonstrated.

Among other things, I learned;

  • how to make crispy chocolate chip cookies- use more granulated sugar and milk
  • how to make cakey chocolate chip cookies-use less butter than normal and use extra eggs
  • how to make chewy chocolate chip cookies- use mainly brown sugar
  • that my professor made today’s Oreo kosher (though he doesn’t get the credit!)
  • that a flexitarian is a vegetarian who eats meat on special occasions/every so often
  • how to make bread!
  • what it means for food to be kosher
  • how to properly drink wine (=see, swirl, sniff, sip, spit)
  • And tons of other things about food but I won’t bore you!
The final exam for the class was just last night, and boy was it stressful.  Each group was given a course (ours was ‘cold appetizer’) and had to prepare 40 mini servings for the class and for a panel of about 5 judges on a $30 budget and within 3 hours.  We chose to make bruschetta, by making our own baguette/crostini (which took a LONG time) and tomato mixture.
To make the baguette, we followed this recipe.  We then cut the loaves into individual slices, rubbed them with garlic, drizzled them with olive oil and grated parmesean and stuck them back into the oven to make them more like crostini.  To make the bruschetta mixture, we followed this recipe, but found that adding salt and garlic to the tomatoes caused them to release a lot of water!! If we put this straight onto our bread and served it, the bruschetta would’ve turned out soggy and really unappetizing.  We didn’t know what to do because we barely had enough tomato mixture to served everyone and had to think quick! So, with the help of the judges (who were guest chefs for our previous classes), we added xantham gum to the tomato mixture, which absorbs 100 times its weight in liquid, soaking up all the water that was released from the tomatoes in the refrigerator!  Both parts of our appetizer came together beautifully and this was the final product!

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