The Spice Master Brainwave
“My spice blends are a visual, tactile and aromatic invitation to travel the world without leaving your kitchen. A ‘real?!’ sensory distortion of scents and flavors.” – Lior Lev Sercarz
The blender of spices and neurologist Donald A. Wilson explore the illusions that our olfactory senses can conjure.
About the Speakers
Lior Lev Sercarz is the chef, spice blender and owner of La Boîte, a biscuits and spice shop in New York City. Lior has been named one of Bon Appetit’s “Tastemakers of 2012” and La Boîte has been featured in publications including Vogue, In Style Magazine, Every Day with Rachel Ray, Food & Wine Magazine and the Saveur 100. Growing up on a kibbutz in Israel, he was influenced by the country’s diverse cuisine beginning at an early age. Lior’s grandfather, who was Tunisian, and his Transylvanian wife, along with Lior’s upbringing across Belgium, Holland and Paris exposed him to a world of spices and ingredients that would set the tone for the rest of his career. Culinary discoveries in South America led to cooking school in France and then to Daniel Boulud’s Daniel. Initially at his own La Boîte, he started by making and selling a line of French biscuits. Lior began by reinterpreting traditional cookie recipes, and later, became fascinated with the idea of adding spices to them. What began as an experiment in cookie baking became intertwined with his love for fine art. From that point forward, he began inviting artists to design his biscuit boxes and to inspire a seasonal line of cookies. La Boîte releases a new box every six months. In 2011, after working more with spices, he opened La Boîte Biscuits & Spices, an art gallery and spice shop in New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen. Each season, the artists whose work adorns his cookie tins also show their work in the gallery. In 2012, his cookbook The Art of Blending featured each blend of his 41 unique blends along with recipes and cooking tips provided by renowned chefs and culinary minds including Gail Simmons, Daniel Boulud, Eric Ripert and Apollonia Poilâne.
Donald A. Wilson is Research Scientist at Nathan S. Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research at NYU Langone. As an expert on smell, he is particularly interested in how the mammalian brain processes and remembers information. In demonstrating that memory plays a critical role in even basic sensory discrimination, he uses rats’ memory for odors as a model. Dr. Wilson is on the editorial board of Neural Plasticity and the Encyclopedia of Perception. He is the author of over 100 peer-reviewed journal articles, books (incl. Learning to Smell (Johns Hopkins U. Press, 2006)), book chapters and other professional publications. He is a member of the Society for Neuroscience, the International Society for Developmental Psychobiology and the Association for Chemoreception Sciences.
"Smell is an often overlooked but major factor in the quality of life. Smell is the primary component of our experience of flavor, smell influences interpersonal relationships (for good and bad), and smell can strongly impact mood. As a prime example of these influences, one can look at how the spice trade has shaped human history and culture."
Photo courtesy of Thomas Schauer
About Brainwave: Illusion
The Buddha said that everything is illusion. What did he mean by that? This sixth edition of Brainwave will enlist the aid of neuroscientists to help us understand how the perception of our world is shaped by the surprising adaptability of our brains. Brainwave includes talks, special film screenings followed by discussions, interactive workshops, and much more!
Presenting Sponsor of Brainwave 2013