Bringing food science to life

La Trobe’s partnership with Melbourne Polytechnic is bringing food science to life for our Nutrition and Dietetics students

La Trobe is partnering with Melbourne Polytechnic to provide Nutrition and Dietetics students with the opportunity to experience food science and food manipulation in action.

“In class, we teach the science behind food,” explains Susan McLeod, Senior Lecturer in Dietetics and Human Nutrition. “We discuss nutrients, starches, fats, proteins and sugars, why they behave the way they do at the molecular level, and what happens when we manipulate them.”

Theory comes to life during practical classes in Melbourne Polytechnic’s commercial teaching kitchens featuring commercial ovens, blast freezers and stainless-steel benches that provide space for up to 20 students.

Large mirrors above the teaching station allow students to observe the cooking demonstrations from a bird’s eye view.

The practical classes are designed to get students to understand food and think about it in different ways. They are co-delivered by Melbourne Polytechnic chefs, who teach students the cooking techniques of food alongside the science of food manipulation.

“The students learn the science of why bread rises when you add yeast, but a chef can bring a different perspective and technical know-how: how the dough should feel, different ways to prepare bread, the cooking methods, and why and when particular techniques are used,” says McLeod.

“The partnership between La Trobe University and Melbourne Polytechnic is an invaluable opportunity for students to not only learn more about how a commercial kitchen works, but also the way dishes are prepared, the relationships between ingredients and the dietary implications,” says Maria Goncalves, Melbourne Polytechnic’s Chef Instructor (Commercial Cookery and Patisserie).