Cooking and Chemistry: A Mix for Success!
Today’s story is about Marcelo, who has been working at Metrohm since 2001 and is currently sales manager for the public sector at Metrohm Brasil. Graduated in Chemistry at the Federal University of São Carlos, he is married and has a little baby son born just six months ago, Pedro. Marcelo’s passion is cooking.
CHEMISTRY AND SCIENCE
For many years, science and cuisine were compartmentalised. In one compartment, there were the fundamental sciences: physics, chemistry, and biology, which plunged into the deep nature of matter and life. In another, there was the science of food, devoted, above all, to understanding the materials and processes of industrial manufacturing.
In recent years, the increasing interest in food technology has broken the barrier between cooking and science: science has set foot in the kitchen and cooking has entered the laboratories and industries.
GASTRONOMY AND THE PASSION FOR REACTIONS
Although few people know, gastronomy has gone hand in hand with chemistry since the beginning of its history. Numerous chemical reactions occur in the kitchen. While cooking, we are «doing chemistry» just like in the laboratory. The physical and chemical processes that occur during food preparation have always fascinated Marcelo. Simple tasks like grilling a steak or baking bread involve plenty of chemical reactions that turn almost raw materials into beautiful dishes. The Maillard reaction is the main process that occurs in those cases. It causes the browning of the food by heating it up. Amino acids react with reducing sugars forming dark pigments and aromatic compounds.
INTEREST IN BAKING
For a few years now, Marcelo has become increasingly interested in baking. Marcelo says: «Perhaps, it is the memory of my childhood at my grandmother’s house and the whole family sitting around the table waiting for the bread to come out of the oven. I clearly remember that unmistakable smell and anxiety to see the butter melting in that slice of hot bread.»
After many frustrating attempts and results far from what he had expected, Marcelo decided to take baking classes to better understand all the processes needed to make bread: ingredients, techniques, and everything related to the fascinating world of fermentation. They were basic courses at first and then more advanced ones covering natural fermentation and baking French breads.
TRANSFORMATION AND ENCHANTMENT
The act of transforming simple ingredients like flour, water and salt into one of the most primitive and seductive foods, bread, fascinated him more and more. Currently, he is dedicating his efforts to work with natural fermentation. In this process, a natural yeast called «levain» is used, instead of organic yeast purchased in the supermarket. It gives the bread unmistakable and unique characteristics of flavor, texture, and aroma. The bread produced is called sourdough bread.
Producing one’s own bread is much healthier and is a very compelling exercise at the same time. Some baked goods take almost 48 hours to be done. Marcelo’s colleagues at Metrohm Brasil love when he comes up with some new experiment from his kitchen. Adding special ingredients like commitment and passion, he always produces more and more delicious recipes.
At the end of the interview, Marcelo says goodbye for a good reason: «Excuse me, but I need to stop here … my oven just warned me that another batch is ready!» We look forward to taste Marcelo’s latest batch!