Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery Oral History Project

Interview with Len Fisher



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Technological University Dublin


Dr Len Fisher is a scientist, writer and broadcaster whose work shares how scientists think about the problems of everyday life. Author of a number of books, including the 2002 How to dunk a Donut, he has won an Ig Nobel Prize for showing how physics could be used to work out the best way to dunk a biscuit. Len has written and broadcast extensively about the role of science in food, cooking and gastronomy. He was born in Sydney Australia. His father was English but recognised education as a path out of poverty and encouraged his children to be academic.

Len originally trained as a physical chemist, working in the area of colloid and surface science, although he has since taken a degree in biology and an MA (with distinction) in philosophy. After nearly two decades working in food research in Australia, with excursions into biomedical science, nano-technology, mining engineering, and philosophy, Len moved to the UK, first in the anatomy department at University College London, and then in the Physics Department at the University of Bristol, where he still holds an honorary position, and which he combined for a while with teaching science communication at the University of the West of England.

Len’s link with food and gastronomy originated with his attending the Molecular Gastronomy workshop in Erica, Sicily with Peter Barham where he met Nicholas Kurti, Hervé This, and Heston Blumenthal. Len began attending the Oxford Symposium in the early 2000s where he explained the science behind Fritz Blanc’s service of smoked salmon. He was impressed by the food knowledge of the Oxford symposiasts, half of whom spotted that his jellied Champagne with bubbles intact was actually Cava! He has been a regular contributor over the years and is also a member of the advisory board. He gave the keynote address at the Dublin Gastronomy Symposium 2014 of the them of ‘Cravings / Desire’. Len’s papers and performances have covered varied topics from fat and flavour, musical carrots, to dried Egyptian Mummies. He has contributed to the Sage Encyclopedia of Food Issues and to the Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets.

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culinary history, oral history, interviews, gastronomy



Interview with Len Fisher