OUR WORKSHOPS AND LECTURES

Botany at the Bar - an overview of tools and approaches for mixologists and food workers to research the plants they use, and to find new and interesting species based on particular traits or flavors they may be interested in incorporating. Research training will include the proper use of appropriate resources and databases to verify botanical identities, search potential health hazards or plants that may be at risk from overharvesting, and research the traditional uses and phytochemical composition of different plants. Techniques covered will include methods to produce high quality and uniform extractions, and techniques for pairing and flavor matching. The workshop also draws upon the science of taste and some simple tests to detect customer preferences. 

The Evolution of Food - a journey into the history of the foods we eat and the mechanisms of evolution at work during the domestication of plant species from around the world. Through a series of interactive activities and tastings, participants are treated to an archaeobotanical tour of the geography of food origins, a look into before and after what fruits and vegetables looked and tasted like prior to and after domestication, and an introduction to the varietal diversity in taste and appearance of everything from egg plants to Peruvian ground cherries.

Nature's Pharmacy - an examination of plants and practices to promote health and healing in communities worldwide. Participants will be guided through an investigation of historical and contemporary healing systems including perceptions of illness and disease, the role of plants and respective phytochemicals in balancing health, maintenance and transmission of ethnomedical knowledge, and findings from pharmacological studies on bioactivity and efficacy of natural products. This workshop will end with an exploration of your kitchen cabinet and backyard for common food and medicinal plants used in healing and preparation of these remedies. 

The Science of Taste - an exploration of the heritability and physiology of taste; the biochemical characteristics of secondary plant compounds associated with different flavor sensations; and an understanding of the ways in which different plant properties may operate synergistically or antagonistically to create taste sensations that may be considered pleasant or unpleasant. Broader application of these concepts to world cuisine and traditional medicine will be explored, as well as contemporary expectation of flavor properties and cocktail culture and new approaches to food innovation.

Tea Workshops: Culture, Ecology, Taste, and Health* - follow the tea plant from its’ birthplace and evolutionary history in southwestern China, to good agricultural practices, trade, rituals, tasting, and benefits for human health. This workshop series will be led by Dr. Selena Ahmed, Assistant Professor of Sustainable Food Systems at Montana State University, who has studied the tea production and system in China for over eight years and published over a dozen scientific articles on this topic.  Workshop topics covered include: tea varieties, crop quality, history, trade, management practices, terroir, geographic and environmental variability, climate change, sustainability, processing, storage, marketing, phytochemicals, bioavailability, and health properties. Participants will be led through tastings of various tea types and qualities and will work together to create a tea flavor wheel. *You may take this as a standalone offering or as a workshop series with four in depth modules.