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Harold McGee

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Harold James McGee (born October 3, 1951) is an American author who writes about the chemistry and history of food science and cooking. He is best known for his seminal book On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen initially published in 1984 and revised in 2004.[1][2][3][4]


McGee was educated at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), initially to study astronomy, but graduating with a B.S. in Literature in 1973. He went on to do a Ph.D. on the romantic poetry of John Keats supervised by Harold Bloom at Yale University, graduating in 1978.[4]


Before becoming a food science writer McGee was a literature and writing instructor at Yale. A greatly revised second edition of On Food and Cooking was published in 2004. McGee has also written for Nature,[5][6][7][8][9][10] Health, The New York Times, the World Book Encyclopedia, The Art of Eating, Food & Wine, Fine Cooking, and Physics Today[11] and lectured on kitchen chemistry at cooking schools, universities, The Oxford Symposia on Food and Cookery, the Denver Natural History Museum and the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. Template:Citation needed

McGee also consults for restaurants and manufacturers. He briefly wrote a regular column for the New York Times, The Curious Cook, which examined, and sometimes debunked, conventional kitchen wisdom. Along with Dave Arnold and Nils Norén, he also teaches a three-day class at The French Culinary Institute in New York City entitled the Harold McGee Lecture Series.

Awards and honors

McGee is a visiting scholar at Harvard University. His book On Food and Cooking has won numerous awards and is used widely in food science courses at many universities. McGee's scientific approach to cooking has been embraced and popularized by chefs and authors such as Heston Blumenthal, David Chang, Alton Brown, Shirley Corriher, Lynne Rossetto Kasper, and Russ Parsons.


  1. Food Scientist Harold McGee: 'On Food', NPR December 2004
  2. Cooking with IEEE Spectrum: Harold McGee
  3. (1984) "Why whip egg whites in copper bowls?". Nature 308 (5960): 667–668. DOI:10.1038/308667a0. Research Blogging.
  4. 4.0 4.1 About Harold McGee (2015). Archived from the original on 2014-12-28.
  5. (2011) "Food science: With pipette and ladle". Nature 480 (7378): 452–453. DOI:10.1038/480452a. Research Blogging.
  6. (2013) "Chemistry: A festive ferment". Nature 504 (7480): 372–374. DOI:10.1038/504372a. PMID 24352277. Research Blogging.
  7. (1999) "Taking stock of new flavours". Nature 400 (6739): 17–18. DOI:10.1038/21775. PMID 10403241. Research Blogging.
  8. (1998) "In victu veritas". Nature 392 (6677): 649–650. DOI:10.1038/33528. PMID 9565025. Research Blogging.
  9. (1987) "Trials of the gluttons for punishment". Nature 326 (6116): 907–908. DOI:10.1038/326907a0. Research Blogging.
  10. (1990) "Recipe for safer sauces". Nature 347 (6295): 717–717. DOI:10.1038/347717a0. PMID 2234048. Research Blogging.
  11. (1999) "The Virtual Cook: Modeling Heat Transfer in the Kitchen". Physics Today 52 (11): 30. DOI:10.1063/1.882728. Research Blogging.

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