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CMU Breaking Ground With Culinary Mechanics

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

RickDayton Rick Dayton
Rick Dayton joined KDKA in September 2009 as a morning news anchor. ...
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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Did you know a carrot cut with a sharp knife tastes different than one cut with a dull blade?

Serious chefs say it’s true and that notion has students at CMU headed to the kitchen.

Carnegie Mellon is known for a lot of things, but food is not one of them.

“It filled up so quickly because there was so much interest inside of this that a lot of the students who actually had a passion for cooking who are mechanical engineers actually came here,” Dr. Phil LeDuc said.

LeDuc teaches a class called culinary mechanics where engineers, not chefs, wrestle with the way food is handled, chopped, sliced, prepared — and what that does to its taste. One of the students in the very small class has two cooking degrees, but knows little about engineering.

“I helped them with the culinary aspect. They helped me with the math aspect. We met in the middle and came out with I think a really great product that I feel could go somewhere,” Ron Gargani said.

Ron’s group came up with pancakes on the go. Portable pancakes with a capsule of syrup cooked in. They are dry until you bite into them and that releases the syrup.

A local chef working with the students says it’s an idea that could be big in fast food.

“I don’t know that there’s a catch. I think that it’s a new way for people to look at food and if people from other fields like engineering get involved in the culinary field, then I think if we can use it to improve what we do then it’s only better,” Notion Restaurant Chef Dave Racicot said.

Funding for the project comes from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, where developing new food is part of their effort to solve worldwide hunger.

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