Science and Cooking in the Blender

Wednesday, 12nd September, 2018, 21:00

Duration: ~1.30hrs, including 2 talks and roundtable debate.

Venue: Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown, Auditorium, Lisboa

HostsNuno Loureiro, Victoria Brugada, Hedi Young

Discussion Panel: Charles Spence, Alexandre Silva, Carlos Ribeiro

Registration will be open from 28th August onwards.

Live streaming starts at 21:00 on the day of the event.

Most people don’t think of science when they think of food, yet science lies at the very core of the culinary experience, not just in the cooking but in the eating too. For this Ar Event we will explore how neuroscience and culture shape our diet, the remarkable influence of vision, odour and other senses on taste perception, and the striking parallels between the lives of scientists and chefs.

To what extent is taste preference determined by our biology? From foetuses preferring sweet tastes to genetic “supertasters”, we will look at the many ways in which our taste is hardwired. But our food preferences can also be learned. Many factors can change our taste preferences, even before birth. From the “mere exposure effect” that allows us to enjoy the bitter taste of coffee or the spiciness of chilli upon repeated consumption, to the impact of positive and negative experiences during or after eating, we will show how there really is such a thing as an “acquired taste”.

Why does food taste bland when we have a cold? It turns out that flavour perception is mostly driven by our sense of smell. Oxford Professor and author Charles Spence will reveal how taste is actually a multisensory process that plays out in the brain. From how the colour of your plate can affect the sweetness of food to how sound is being used to make food taste better (“sonic seasoning”), Spence will shed light on the fascinating and hidden ways our different senses combine – and fool us – in creating our perception of flavour.

Today the kitchens of many chefs look like laboratories, but the similarities don’t stop there. Innovation and creativity, intense pressure and long hours… we conduct an experiment of our own to find out what happens when a chef and a scientist swap roles for a day. Alexandre Silva is the Michelin-starred chef of the Lisbon restaurant LOCO, and Carlos Ribeiro is a Principal Investigator studying how the brain controls food choice at the Champalimaud Foundation. So when the chef puts on a lab coat and the scientist puts on an apron, what similarities, and differences, will they find…?

Ticket reservations will be open from 28th August on!

Eventbrite - Limit(less)

Limited seats will be available to people without reservations on the event evening on a first come, first served basis. After 20:55 tickets will be given for people without reservations.


If you can´t make it to our event, Live Streaming will be available during the event at our youtube channel:

After the event, the video will be available online.

 Victoria Brugada-Ramentol has a degree in Human Biology and a master degree in Pharmaceutical Industry and Medical Biotechnology, both from Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona. In 2014, she joined the Collective Behavior Lab at the Champalimaud Research, where she studies the role of visuomotor information in sense of ownership and agency in humans in a custom-made virtual reality environment.

 Nuno Loureiro studied Engineering Physics at Instituto Superior Tecnico in Lisboa, before working as an aerospace engineer at the European Space Agency. For his PhD, he joined the Neurobiology of Action Lab at the CNP. His project aims at understanding the dynamics of learning during an arbitrary task by using brain-machine interfaces (BMI).

 Hedi Young was born in Paris and grew up in London. He studied biology at Oxford University before working on documentaries for the BBC for several years. He is currently a neuroscience PhD student at the Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown.

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