I’m Dr. Arielle Johnson and I’m really, really interested in food and flavor, especially in the contexts of cooking, restaurants, and food systems. My PhD dissertation focused on flavor chemistry and gastronomy, I was the in-house R&D scientist for the world’s best restaurant, and I’m currently the Science Officer on Alton Brown’s Food Network show Good Eats.
My formal training is in analytical chemistry and sensory analysis but I work in any kind of technique or discipline that’s useful for making knowledge about food, flavor, and the systems that they inhabit.
Flavor is a composite sense evolved to integrate taste and smell (with input from the other senses) to give us information and pleasure from the food we eat.
Flavor is a visceral link, perhaps the most essential link, between culture, evolution, ecology, health, and biodiversity:
In the brain, flavor cross-talks extensively with emotions and memory.
On the sensory side, flavor comes from many different kinds of molecules, produced by plants, animals, and microbes as attractants, weapons, adaptations, by-products of other biologically useful molecules, and from cooking.