"You’re not talking to your tomatoes," said Bill Yoses, former White House Pastry Chef to a crowd of students looking forward to the Yummy Science Lecture at the Intrepid. The lecture, attended by the Science Research students, talked about the importance of a healthy and balanced diet as well as the science behind certain food preparation. "It was a very hands-on lecture," said Samar Syeda ’15. "This was my first time going to a lecture and I was expecting a long and boring PowerPoint, but, thankfully, that didn’t happen. We got to interact with the lecturer and take part in some activities instead of just listening to him speak." Mr. Yoses started the lecture by making a quesadilla, but instead of using cheese he used guacamole with beans and mushrooms. He touched on topics such as the discovery of the chemistry of cooking and baking and exploring new innovations in food management and sustainability. Some examples of chemistry being applied are creating blown glass like figurines out of heated sugar. Sugar, when boiled to the right temperature, can be malleable and distorted into numerous shapes. He recounted once making such figurines for a White House State Dinner.
Midwood science research students making butter from cream
After Mr. Yoses’ lecture, students were separated into two groups: scrub and butter. Students were able to create their own body products such as a pumpkin spice body scrub, as well as a honey and yogurt face mask. Butter was created by shaking heavy whipping cream for 15 to 20 minutes while songs such as "Hey Ya" by Outkast and "Shake it Off" by Taylor Swift were playing in the background. "The activities were interesting and fun, I learned a lot. I make face masks at home, and it was cool to see how other people make masks too," said Yukie Wong ’15. Along with having fun making the various items, the students learned a lot about their food choices and consumption. Mr. Yoses worked alongside Michelle Obama on her food campaign where they brought kids from the Washington, DC area to the White House garden, cultivated by Mrs. Obama and other chefs. Many topics such as alternative sources for protein were discussed, as well as the subject of genetically modified organisms (GMO). Mr. Yoses commented that it is "not really bad but not the best either." "I found it interesting that Mr. Yoses mentioned caring about food as if it’s a person," said Valeriya Falkovich ’15. "He said, ‘Talk to your food, and it will talk back." He then pointed to a slightly dried up pita bread because he left it out for a while, and sprinkled it with water to soften the texture. "This example gave me insight that food is not just something we consume, but also art that we create." Many questions surrounding the White House naturally surfaced as well. One student asked about what happens to leftovers after a state dinner. Mr. Yoses was not able to really talk about this for security reasons, but he did not say that the leftovers go to a "good place." Another student asked if there was ever a time that President Obama went to cook for himself. He recounted a time when President Obama went to the kitchen during breakfast and showed the chefs how to cook his eggs. For those wondering, according to Mr. Yoses, President Obama’s favorite dessert is fruit pie.
Charlynn Trish Ben
This article originally appeared in the December 2014 edition of Argus.