35 / New York, USA
The scientist and educator exploring our understanding of flavour
A fine example of how it is possible to carve out one’s own career niche in a saturated sector, Arielle Johnson shines bright. Revelling in the title of ‘flavour scientist’, Boston-born Arielle brought together her twin loves for chemistry and gastronomy in her post-graduate studies and is now enhancing understanding of taste on multiple levels. After completing her doctorate, she moved to Denmark to work as the in-house scientist at Noma - one of the Best of the Best restaurants that has previously topped The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list (on five occasions, no less). It was a role she created herself, which says as much as you need to know about Arielle’s drive as well as the innovative nature of the Copenhagen restaurant. There she co-founded the hugely influential Noma Fermentation Lab and headed up research at MAD, Rene Redzepi’s food exploration project.
Having returned to the US, Johnson’s output now straddles multiple facets including writing, scientific research, culinary consulting, TV, working with food non-profits and more. At its core, her work seeks to apply greater scientific understanding to the culinary world, identifying new patterns of flavour and tase and sharing that knowledge with forward-thinking chefs, small food companies and educators. In 2023, we can also expect Johnson first book: Flavorama: The unbridled science of flavour and how to get it to work for you.
“I’ve been working with chefs and restaurants for going on 15 years, and I have found myself explaining a lot of the same scientific concepts that explain how flavour works – how our perceptual systems work, how flavour is made up of taste and smell, the molecules that create it and so on – and then saying ‘Wow, I wish there was a book I could give you that summarised all this in a useful way’. Right now, I’m writing that book.” – Arielle Johnson
- “Arielle is proof that dreams can come true. Taking cooking to university and developing a dialogue between science and cooking was my dream when in 2010 I had the honour of inaugurating the Science and Cooking course at Harvard University. Arielle defends that dialogue with excellence and confirms scientific knowhow as a motor of creativity in gastronomy and in nutrition in general, at the same time as presenting creative talent in cooking as a valuable resource for science and technology in nutrition.”
- Ferran Adrià
- El Bulli
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