Favourite Thing: Using science to understand, improve and experiment with cooking. And basically getting to try things all day long!
City of London School for Girls 1993-2000, Cambridge University 2000-2003, University of Nottingham 2005-2008
PhD in Food and Flavour Science, MA in Biochemistry, WSET wine qualification, A-levels and GCSE’s, IFST Young Scientist Award 2006
My PhD in Food Flavour sponsored by Heston Blumenthal, a Food Technologist at Sainsbury’s looking after their gluten and dairy free products, studying the science of potato salad with Herve This at the College de France in Paris
Science teacher and researcher
Westminster Kingsway College
Me and my work
I have always loved food and cooking, and at school I always enjoyed science. When I found out that I could get a job that linked the two it was great!
After graduating I moved to Paris and spent 10 months studying the science of potato salad. I also trained as a chef and worked in one of the best restaurants in Paris. I then moved back to the UK to do a PhD sponsored by world famous chef Heston Blumenthal. He was great to work with. One of this things he asked me to do was to create Willi Wonka’s gobstopper that changes flavour from tomato soup through to roast chicken and finishing with blueberry pie. Now I have a job where I get to both teach the science of cooking to chefs, and use fancy scientific machines to develop new flavours and textures.
My Typical Day
I might teach a class on the science of breadmaking in the morning, which involves making lots of breads with different ingredients and comparing the results; and then in the afternoon I might cook duck breasts at different temperatures and humidities to see how it affects their texture, or I might try putting some different flavours in the rotary evaporator to see what interesting results I get.
The lab where I work has lots of fun pieces of equipment. We have a rotary evaporator which separates things according to their boiling point. It allows you to make a crystal clear chocolate extract! And the centrifuge can be used to make flavoured butters – like raspberry flavoured butter and coffee flavoured butter! The sonic homogeniser oscillates 10,000 times a second and uses sonic waves to make emulsions like mayonnaise and vinaigrette. I get to spend most of my day using these machines to make delicious foods. And obviously I have to teach sometimes!
What I'd do with the money
To find ways to show more people how exciting and interesting food science can be.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Passionate, dedicated, curious
Who is your favourite singer or band?
It changes on a daily basis!
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Getting involved in creating a 6-tonne chocolate waterfall
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
To have my own proper lab in my kitchen at home, to eat in all the best restaurants in the world, and to own a yacht!
What did you want to be after you left school?
A florist (but without a till, so I would have to do all the calculations in my head)
Were you ever in trouble in at school?
Only for wearing a wooly hat.
What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?
Work with some fantastic chefs
Tell us a joke.
Two sausages sizzling in a pan. One turns to the other and says “wow its hot in here”. The other sausage cries “aaaaaagh! Its a talking sausage!