<figcaption>Shirley Corriher Credit: © Robin Nelson/The New York Times/Redux</figcaption>
Shirley Corriher Credit: © Robin Nelson/The New York Times/Redux

Shirley Corriher knew nothing about cooking until she and her husband opened a boys' boarding school and Corriher - a former chemist at Vanderbilt Medical School - found herself catering for 140. With the measured irony that only those blessed with a southern accent can achieve, Corriher describes the experience as a "trial by fire." Teenage boys are, she said at a lecture opening The New York Academy of Sciences' "Science of Food" series on October 26, "the ultimate restaurant critics."

Flummoxed by why her scrambled eggs stuck to the pan, Corriher was saved by her German mother-in-law, who taught her to pour eggs onto a hot, not a cold surface. This simple lesson was the first in a lifelong course of study. "Science is an indispensable part of our everyday lives, and nowhere is that more clear than in cooking,"...

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