Episode 25: James Briscione discusses the art & science of food & flavor

Episode of: STEM-Talk

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Nov 22, 20160m
Episode 25: James Briscione discusses the art & science of food & flavor
Nov 22 '160m
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James Briscione’s stellar cooking career began humbly: As a teenager, he washed dishes at a now defunct restaurant (named Jubilee) on Pensacola Beach. He quickly rose through the ranks, at age 24 becoming the chef de cuisine at the Highlands Bar and Grill in Birmingham, Alabama, which is considered one of the best restaurants in the South, and later the sous chef at the prestigious New York City restaurant Daniel. Today Briscione, who lives in New York City, is a top-tier chef, author of three books on cooking, director of culinary development at the Institute of Culinary Education, and a three-time champion on the Food Network’s cooking competition series Chopped. So what is he doing on STEM-Talk, you might ask? Briscione is also versed in the science of cooking and flavor. He partnered with IBM in creating the “Chef Watson” project. This computer-based program generates hundreds of novel flavor combinations based on the compatibility of chemical compounds in food. In this episode, Briscione talks with IHMC Director Ken Ford and IHMC Chef Blake Rushing about the art and science of food, and Briscione’s career as a chef. Briscione’s three books include: “Just Married and Cooking” (with his wife Brooke Parkhurst): http://amzn.to/2eDIpJD; “Cognitive Cooking with Chef Watson”(http://amzn.to/2g04Kq0); and “The Great Cook: Essential Techniques and Inspired Flavors to Make Every Dish Better.” (http://amzn.to/2elhlDr). He also has his own, new television show on the Food Network called “Cooking with Dad.” Briscione, his ideas on cooking and his own culinary creations have been featured in the New York Times, NPR, the New Yorker, Time Magazine and hundreds of other media outlets throughout the world. Briscione’s recent talk at IHMC, entitled “Who teaches the cooks to cook?” can be viewed at http://www.ihmc.us/lectures/20160811/ Dive into this delicious interview—an entertaining and informative conversation between three foodies. 00:32: Ken introduces Blake Rushing as the guest co-host of this episode of STEM-Talk. Rushing is IHMC’s chef, as well as the owner of Union Public House in Pensacola. 1:00: Ken introduces James Briscione as, “Working in the boundary spaces between the science of food, science and taste and even AI systems, such as Chef Watson.” 1:49: Dawn reads 5-Star iTunes review from “Beautronical:” “I am continually enthralled by the variety and depth of ideas presented here. Also, it is rare that one finds great minds matched by great voices. Given the ketogenic bent of certain interviewers, perhaps mellifluous is the wrong term, but I’ll use it nonetheless.” 4:42: Ken introduces himself and Blake Rushing as hosts of the interview; and then welcomes James to the interview. 5:05: James says he remembers the food made by his Italian grandmother. Among them: chicken cacciatore (although the mushy carrots bugged him.) The “greatest mashed potatoes… Sunday red sauce; sausage and meatballs loaded down with pecorino cheese.” 6:55: “True learning doesn’t often happen until you’re in the kitchen every day,” Briscione tells his students. He didn’t go to culinary school, but has been in the kitchen since he was 16. 8:15: At 16, he was a bus boy washing dishes for two restaurants: fine dining upstairs and casual beach dining downstairs. 9:33: As a teenager and at the beginning of college, Briscione thought, ‘There’s no way I am going to spend the rest of my life in a kitchen.’ He was working on a degree in sports medicine in Birmingham, and worked summers at the restaurant [in Pensacola]. After his second summer, something clicked: he changed his course of study from sports medicine to nutrition. 11:00: James knocked on the back door of Bottega Cafe [in Birmingham] http://www.bottegarestaurant.com/cafe/ and said, ‘I want to work here.’ He got a job as pizza maker with a wood-fired oven. He remembers stretching the dough and putting the toppings on it, then handing it off to the next guy.

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