The Periodic Table Dinner: the first of a continuing series

The first of the new series, the Periodic Table: The Maillard Reaction (which was sold out!) felt like an intimate dinner with friends, learning about the science behind the food you’re eating–and why it’s so darn good!


Described on their invite as:

From BBQ to Bread, one chemical reaction truly governs how food tastes when cooked. Named after the French chemist trying to figure out how to synthesize food in a lab in 1912, the Maillard reaction governs how food tastes when subjected to high heat. Noms likes roasted meats, tangy sourdoughs, crunchy french fries, and a rich cup of coffee all are possible because of the unique reaction of the amino acids found in proteins and different sugars present in common foods. Come learn how one simple reaction can be so complex, so fascinating, and so delicious as we learn (AND EAT) the chemistry from DC’s most talented up-and-coming culinarians, The Milk Cult. Your ticket includes; 4-course meal prepared by Chefs Ed & Pat from The Milk Cult, never-heard-before lecture from PhD Eric Schulze, a newfound wealth of knowledge, that you can go off into the world and share with others



Held at Union Kitchen in Northeast DC, you enter through what looks like a secret, inconspicuous door in an alley. It was like sneaking in the back door of a secret restaurant, and made it a lot more fun from the get go! The 20+ guests were then led up past the kitchen to a large dining room that reminded me much more of a comfortable row house of a good friend than the restaurant or kitchen I had anticipated–all a great part of the experience, putting me at ease as we prepared for our educational dinner. Before and after each course, our teacher for the evening gave us some background on the “Maillard Reaction,” what it was, and how it effected the food we were about to eat.

The Maillard Reaction, as we learned in our lecture and dinner, is when food is cooked above a certain temperature, 285°F a chemical reaction that occurs between amino acids and reducing sugars, which browns your food, and making it taste delicious.


The first course was the one I was most nervous about. But shockingly, thanks to the Maillard Reaction, it was my favorite of all the courses! The Spam Musubi is grilled spam with rice and furikake, and it was delicious, I never would have guessed it was made from the infamous spam in a can.


As the courses continued, each was more different than the last and included Brussel Sprouts (which is normally my least favorite food, but cooked with bacon were irresistible), Potato Gratin (Bechamel sauce with red chili flake and roasted gruyere), Vietnamese Ribs (Caramelized fish sauce and shallots), and one of the most interesting desserts I’ve ever had, toasted milk ice cream, sprinkled with brown butter solids and espresso.


Each portion of the lecture was great, and allowed the group to ask all the questions they wanted on each course. So if you’re interested in great food, along with a great learning experience, look no further than the Periodic Table!


Keep up with all of their future dinners online.

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