The Science of Food: From Chocolate Chemistry to Space Cuisine

Hey there, Today, I want to take you on a journey—a journey that spans from the vibrant streets of Multan, Pakistan, to the bustling halls of the University of Surrey’s food science and nutrition department.

I’m Ammar, a second-year Food Science and Nutrition student here at Surrey. Growing up in Multan, a city known for its rich culinary heritage and mouthwatering delicacies, my love affair with food began at an early age. From savouring the aromatic spices of biryani to indulging in decadent desserts like gulab jamun, each bite told a story.

As I navigated through Pakistani cuisine, I became increasingly fascinated by the science behind the flavours—the chemistry of spices, the physics of baking, and the biology of fermentation. It was this curiosity that sparked my interest in food science and nutrition—a field that seamlessly blends my passion for food with my love for scientific inquiry.

Fast forward to my decision to pursue higher education at the University of Surrey, and the choice was clear. But why food science and nutrition, you might ask? Well, truth be told, my journey is deeply rooted in family tradition and entrepreneurial ambition. Coming from a family business in poultry, I’ve always been surrounded by the sights, sounds, and smells of the food industry. It’s in my blood, you could say.

With dreams of following in my family’s footsteps and carving out my own path in the culinary world, pursuing a degree in food science and nutrition was the natural next step. My ultimate goal? To leverage my education and expertise to establish a processing plant specialising in chicken products—a venture that aims to rival the likes of industry giants such as K&Ns and Sabroso, if not surpass them.

Nevertheless my journey into this field was anything but straightforward. Starting with a foundation in STEM, I found myself at a crossroads, unsure if food technology was the path for me. Sure, I had a passion for cooking and a fascination with the intricate chemistry behind everyday delights like chocolate—Have you ever wondered?

There are over 1500 flavour components in chocolate. Mind-blowing, right? But what truly captivated me was the potential of food science to create products that not only tantalize our taste buds but also promote health and cater to diverse dietary needs.

At the University of Surrey, students don’t just study food science; they actively engage in the creation of innovative food products that cater to evolving consumer preferences and health needs. Imagine a task where you’re challenged to develop a new product by transforming its ingredients and characteristics, all while incorporating nutritious elements like spirulina.

So, what exactly is food science? It’s a melting pot of various scientific disciplines—physiology, biochemistry and of course, food science itself. It is all about understanding the intricacies of our food system, from its chemical composition to the processes it undergoes during production and storage. Think proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and water—each playing a crucial role in the alchemy of food. And let’s not forget the myriad processing and preservation methods—from drying and freezing to pasteurization and even 3D printing!

Ah, yes, the fun part! Did you know that food science extends beyond earthly boundaries? Imagine astronauts floating in space, enjoying specially crafted meals designed by—you guessed it—food scientists! The challenges of creating nutritious, flavourful, and safe food for space travel are a testament to the innovation and creativity of food science. It’s these out-of-this-world applications that truly make food science an exciting and dynamic field to be a part of.

So, here’s to the unsung heroes behind our favourite meals and the innovators shaping the future of food. As I continue my journey in food science and nutrition, I’m excited to explore the endless possibilities this field has to offer. After all, with food science, the sky’s not the limit—it’s just the beginning of a delicious adventure.