Eetavontuur with poster award winner Hilke Verbruggen

On 21.10.2015, Hilke Verbruggen (VUB) received the SIM User Forum Poster Award for her poster on self-healing coatings for reinforced concrete. The prize was spent on a team activity at "Eetavontuur", using the science of cooking to create Vietnamese food. Enjoy Hilke's report and pictures!


Last SIM User Forum (21.10.2015, nvdr.) the poster award went to Hilke Verbruggen from the SURF research group at VUB. The poster, entitled "Development and study of self-healing coatings for reinforced concerte", presented her research performed within the SBO project ISHECO (part of the SHE research program).

What the prize exactly included could be chosen from a list of team building activities. The researchers working on the ISHECO project chose for a Vietnamese cooking workshop: "The scent of green papaya".

It's been said that cooking is a science on its own. So on Wednesday 30 March, we finally had the chance to test experimentally whether we are good scientists or not. 

Materials & Methods

We met in the studio of Eetavontuur, located at Dok Noord in Ghent. There we were welcomed by chef Tom, with a glass containing a solution of C2H6O, and CO2 bubbles.

We put on the provided aprons, and we were ready to start!


Results & discussion

We started with a simple noodle soup with beef, 'pho bo'.  The preparation took only 5 minutes (as most of the preparatory work was already done by Tom), however we already had an interesting combination of different flavours - typical for Vietnam - as a result.

Next were the spring rolls, or the so-called 'bahn cuon', with a 'nuoc cham' dip sauce. For this we took some rice paper, softened it by dipping into warm water, filled it with prawns, noodles, some vegetables and herbs, and wrapped it. It sounds easy, but it definitely was not. Some of us made real pieces of art... some of us didn't. Nevertheless, the taste was still incredible!

As a main dish we prepared four different dishes, each one a feast for the taste buds. We grilled a dorade in a banana leaf, prepared a banana flower salad with chicken, stir-fried prawns with garlic, and had a soup with tofu. All our cooking skills were challenged... but positively evaluated! 

Last we could enjoy a yummy lemon creme brulee, together with some coffee/tea. We ended this tasty afternoon with a full stomach and a good feeling!


Though we needed some help of Tom, it seemed we were not bad (cooking) scientists at all. Hence we had a delicious and joyful afternoon. Hopefully our experiments are reproducible!