In accompaniment to the interview video, the vivacious explainer Saijah Williams tells us a few things about the relatively new field of molecular gastronomy or “modern cooking”, her love for baking and where she sees herself with NYSCI in the future.
MW: So can you explain molecular gastronomy to those of us who have never heard of it?
SW: Molecular gastronomy studies the physical aspects as well as the chemical aspects of ingredients during cooking. It also studies how the ingredients interact and affect each other under different temperatures.
MW: How did this interest start?
SW: I love food and I love science; [molecular gastronomy] is a combination of the two, so it’s perfect. It turns cooking into a form of scientific experimentation.
You know how we use liquid nitrogen in the Chem demo? Some molecular gastronomical meals use liquid nitrogen to prepare.
MW: That sounds like a science experiment! Do you need any special a degree or PhD. to prepare a molecular gastronomy meal [laughs]?
SW: Yeah there are courses at certain colleges for molecular gastronomy and also special culinary schools.There are recipes that one can follow also. They even sell kits [in bookstores] to get you started.
There is a show on Netflix, called “Quantum Kitchen” it’s all about molecular gastronomy. The chef [Marcel Vigneron] in it goes all out for his meals. He puts a lot of time and thoughts and uses all sorts of techniques to prepare his meals.
MW: A meal like that can’t come cheap. Speaking of expensive meals, I heard there are restaurants [such as Corton located in Tribeca] that use special molecular gastronomical techniques to prepare their meals. The waiting lists for the restaurants are unbelievably long.
SW: I would love to dine at one but they are so expensive and the waiting lists are for months.
MW: Do you cook a lot?
SW: I am more of a baker than a cook. I usually bake extravagant cakes for the holidays. Last year for Halloween, I baked a graveyard themed cake with cookies for tombstones and worms, the gummy type of course.
MW: So we can anticipate an extravagant cake this Halloween [laughs]?
SW: Possibly. I haven’t baked in a while and Halloween, which is my favorite holiday, gives me the perfect opportunity to make a really great cake. I’m thinking of ideas right now, so we will see!
MW: You’ve been with the Hall for 2 years, now. So where do you see yourself in the future with the Hall?
SW: I want to move up the Science Career Ladder, try to go as far as I can, and reach the highest rung.
- Interviewed by Margaret Wang
- Interview edited for clarification purposes