Harold McGee

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Harold McGee
Harold McGee.jpg
Harold McGee at a book signing in Washington, D.C., 2010.
Born Harold James McGee
(1951-10-03)October 3, 1951[1]
Nationality  United States
Alma mater
Thesis Keats and the Progress of Taste (1978)
Doctoral advisor Harold Bloom[2]
Known for On Food and Cooking[3][4]

Harold James McGee (b. 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[3] and revised in 2004.[8][9][10][11][12]


Harold McGee tastes surstromming (Swedish fermented herring) at the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery, 2010

McGee was educated at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), initially to study astronomy,[4][13] 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.[2][12]


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][14][15][16][17][18] Health, The New York Times, the World Book Encyclopedia, The Art of Eating, Food & Wine, Fine Cooking, and Physics Today[19] 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.[citation needed]

McGee also consults for restaurants and manufacturers. Currently, he writes a regular column for the New York Times, The Curious Cook, which examines, and often debunks, 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.[20][21][22][23]

Awards and honors[edit]

McGee is a visiting scholar at Harvard University.[4] 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, [7] Alton Brown, Shirley Corriher, Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Russ Parsons.


  1. ^ "Harold McGee". CooksInfo. Retrieved 22 August 2015. 
  2. ^ a b McGee, Harold James (1978). Keats and the Progress of Taste (PhD thesis). Yale University. 
  3. ^ a b On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen (1984) ISBN 0-684-18132-0
  4. ^ a b c Harold McGee (Food science writer): On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen on YouTube, iBioMagazine
  5. ^ a b McGee, Harold (2011). "Food science: With pipette and ladle". Nature. 480 (7378): 452–453. doi:10.1038/480452a. 
  6. ^ But the Crackling is Superb: An Anthology on Food and Drink by Fellows and Foreign Members of The Royal Society of London ISBN 0-7503-0488-X
  7. ^ a b BBC Radio 4 Food Programme: A Life through Food with Harold McGee, BBC, 2014-10-13
  8. ^ Food Scientist Harold McGee: 'On Food', NPR December 2004
  9. ^ Cooking with IEEE Spectrum: Harold McGee
  10. ^ McGee, Harold J.; Long, Sharon R.; Briggs, Winslow R. (1984). "Why whip egg whites in copper bowls?". Nature. 308 (5960): 667–668. doi:10.1038/308667a0. 
  11. ^ Harold McGee on Twitter
  12. ^ a b McGee, Harold (2015). "About Harold McGee". Archived from the original on 2014-12-28. 
  13. ^ Cressey, Daniel (2009). "Q&A with Harold McGee: The molecular master chef". Nature. 458 (7239): 707–707. doi:10.1038/458707a. 
  14. ^ McGee, Harold (2013). "Chemistry: A festive ferment". Nature. 504 (7480): 372–374. doi:10.1038/504372a. PMID 24352277. 
  15. ^ McGee, Harold (1999). "Taking stock of new flavours". Nature. 400 (6739): 17–18. doi:10.1038/21775. PMID 10403241. 
  16. ^ McGee, Harold (1998). "In victu veritas". Nature. 392 (6677): 649–650. doi:10.1038/33528. PMID 9565025. 
  17. ^ McGee, Harold (1987). "Trials of the gluttons for punishment". Nature. 326 (6116): 907–908. doi:10.1038/326907a0. 
  18. ^ Mcgee, Harold (1990). "Recipe for safer sauces". Nature. 347 (6295): 717–717. doi:10.1038/347717a0. 
  19. ^ McGee, Harold; McInerney, Jack; Harrus, Alain (1999). "The Virtual Cook: Modeling Heat Transfer in the Kitchen". Physics Today. 52 (11): 30. doi:10.1063/1.882728. 
  20. ^ The Curious Cook: More Kitchen Science and Lore (1990) ISBN 0-865-47452-4,
  21. ^ On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen (2004) ISBN 0-684-80001-2
  22. ^ Keys to Good Cooking: A Guide to Making the Best of Foods and Recipes (2010) ISBN 0-34-096320-4, a compendium of practical information on food and cooking.
  23. ^ Modern gastronomy A to Z : a scientific and gastronomic lexicon (2010) ISBN 978-1439812457