Sampling Scientific Cooking with Kenji Lopez-Alt at Harvest in Cambridge

By Jerrelle Guy

A private luncheon was held at the historic Harvest restaurant in Harvard square on Monday, October 26th, and a few IMG_0228people from the Gastronomy program attended. You all remember Chef Kenji Lopez-Alt from his column in Serious Eats, right? Well, Chef Kenji Lopez-Alt has taken his M.I.T. degree and brought that proficiency into his kitchen. He’s managed to deconstruct many of the common cooking approaches taken toward some of our favorite recipes (All-American Meatloaf, Classic Baked Ziti, Big, Fat Juicy Grilled Burgers, and more) and boil them down to a simple scientific method. He even went one step further and made his science-based techniques accessible to the home cook.

The luncheon was a tiny taste of what scientific cooking could offer. Chef Kenji Lopez-Alt partnered with Harvest’s Executive Chef Kinnet to prepare a simple yet elegant menu: Slow-Roasted Pumpkin Soup, Spatchcock Roast Chicken with Scalloped Potatoes, Broccoli Rabe and Delicata Squash, and one can’t forget the array of mini desserts that included a life-altering Earl Grey and Caramel Cream Puff!

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Along the top of a wide-stretched table dressed in white linen rested his thick new cookbooks, waiting to be doled out to the lucky guests in attendance. Within their pages the chef offers extensive explanations and pictures, and for those who could attend the luncheon, living proof why we as cooks should reconsider the way we think about cooking. The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking through Science is as monumental in size as an encyclopedia, and it behaves like one as well. It’s a necessary resource that should take a place on all of our cookbook shelves.

Harvest is celebrating its 40th anniversary all November-long with a special tasting menu, and inviting and honoring chefs from the Boston area who are shaking up the contemporary culinary scene. You can find more information on future events here.