The People of Food Science: Who Are They?

Published on October 20, 2018

Good food, good mood. They say nothing brings people together like good food. Everyone agrees, yes? Food is a basic necessity. Our body needs it like the air that we breathe. Everybody loves food and the more we know about food, the more we tend to like it.

Like most things in life, food seems simple but is very complicated.

How do you grow, move, process, package, and sell food to almost 95% of the population in the planet who is not involved and associated in growing or processing the food that we eat?  How do you do this safely, effectively and efficiently? 

This is where food science comes in. So let us better understand it.

The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) is an international, non-profit scientific society that brings together professional food scientists and technologists from different areas of the government, industry and related professions. This organization provides a good definition of food science:

“Food science draws from many disciplines such as biology, chemical engineering, and biochemistry in an attempt to better understand food processes and ultimately improve food products for the general public. As the stewards of the field, food scientists study the physical, microbiological, and chemical makeup of food. By applying their findings, they are responsible for developing the safe, nutritious foods and innovative packaging that line supermarket shelves everywhere.”

It involves:


Nutrition Policies and Sustainability

  • Fortification, supplementation, dietary recommendations
  • Balanced or preventive nutrition

Food Chemistry and Research

  • Food analysis
  • Food composition and properties

Food Processing for Functional Ingredients

  • Nutrient retention
  • Product quality
  • Novel bio-processing

Functional Plant Foods for a Healthy Diet

  • Health-promoting compounds, ingredients
  • Food-microbial interaction

Nutrition-Bioavailabilty and Health

  • Clinical analysis
  • Human models or trials

What this means is that food scientists has influenced every single item of food or beverage we buy in the market or grocery. They’re responsible for making sure that what we eat in a day to day basis is safe and will not do harm to our body. In addition to ensuring food safety, these food scientists meets the consumers’ needs and demands by producing food that is affordable, healthy, convenient, showing a great of variety and most of all, palatable. I believe no person wants to consume the same food every single day, and who likes to buy meals that tastes awful, right?

Now we understand the critical roles that these scientists offer in the world of food. Below are just a few of the people who played a part and is instrumental to the application of food science - more specifically Molecular Gastronomy which is a sub-discipline of food science. We need not divulge deep into their biography and career, just their significant contributions.

Hervé This

A French physical chemist of the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique in Paris, France. In 1988, he coined the term “Molecular and Physical Gastronomy” which is now known as simply “Molecular Gastronomy.” His love and passion for the study of food led him to invent this new scientific discipline which involves the study and knowledge of various techniques and tools that brings about the physical and chemical transformations of food in cooking.


Nicholas Kurti

A food physicist from the University of Oxford who, together with Hervé This, invented Molecular and Physical Gastronomy.



Peter Barham

A former physics professor at the University of Bristol and also teached Molecular Gastronomy at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark for a while. He published his own book The Science of Cooking which includes understanding the physics and chemistry of cooking.

Harold McGee

An American food science writer who authored and is best known for the book On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen. The book has garnered numerous awards and is utilized by many universities under food science courses.


Among the people listed above include:


Shirley Corriher (biochemist, author of CookWise: The Hows and Whys of Successful Cooking)


Heston Blumenthal (celebrity chef and owner of The Fat Duck)

Pierre Gagnaire (chef and owner of Pierre Gagnaire restaurant)


 Robert Wolke (chemist, author of What Einstein Told His Cook: Kitchen Science Explained)

 Ferran Adria (head chef of El Bulli restaurant) 

These few big names only represent a small fraction of the total number of contributors to food science. Every one of them is worth mentioning but the list would go on and on forever. We believe to acknowledge their job is enough to let the whole world know and be aware that food scientists exist to give us what we deserve which is the absolute best when it comes to food. Knowing they work with food as part of their job makes me consider switching jobs. Who doesn’t want to work with food everyday, anyway? But for now, I will be thinking about them and their efforts when I eat oatmeal and drink my black coffee in the morning, when I devour that roasted chicken for lunch, and drink that soda after a huge dinner. So kudos to these people for doing what they do!

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