Coming soon to BBC Four, celebrity chef Marcus Wareing will be challenged by a scientist to the ultimate cookery competition.
In a 90-minute film, entitled ‘Chef vs Science: The Ultimate Kitchen Challenge’, the pair will cook some of the nation’s best-loved dishes in a contest to see who can create the most flavoursome food. Creating the same dishes, but using radically different methods, they will attempt to answer the question: is cooking a science or an art?
Marcus Wareing is a two-Michelin-star chef and his challenger is Professor Mark Miodownik, a materials scientist from University College London. Mark is confident that his understanding of cooking at the molecular level and access to state-of-the-art technology will help him prove triumphant.
For the appetiser, the pair will make tomato soup. As tomatoes are 94% water, the challenge will be to extract the maximum amount of flavour from the fruit. Marcus will attempt this using his usual culinary expertise and Mark will use a centrifuge.
For the main course, they will cook a medium rare steak. Marcus will rely on his instinct and years of experience, while Mark will attempt to achieve precision through a novel scientific approach involving liquid nitrogen. The accompanying side dish will be mashed potato. Marcus will adopt his usual method of adding butter, and Mark will attempt to break his potatoes down at the atomic level by using a secret ingredient.
The final and most complex round is the dessert: a chocolate fondant. Due to the complexity of this dish, both Mark and Marcus will use a secret weapon. Marcus will bring in specialist fondant-maker Chantelle Nicholson, and Mark will use a microwave. Chantelle’s recipe relies heavily on precision timing but Mark is confident that he will achieve a better result using a microwave and boxed cake-mix.
BBC Four said: ‘Throughout the film, Mark will travel the length and breadth of Britain to explore the secrets behind some of the most extreme and intriguing flavours that underpin our national cuisine. And – in a bid to persuade Marcus to take the science behind cooking seriously – he’ll be revealing some of the complex chemical reactions that are going on every day in kitchens across the nation.’