Grandmother's cooking inspired Dr Thoo Yin Yin to be a food scientist

24 February 2020

No matter how simple a dish can be, grandma always does the best version. While we scramble to learn her tips and tricks, not everyone is gifted with such talent and skills. This was the case for food science and technology lecturer, Dr Thoo Yin Yin, whose grandmother’s cooking got her interested in science and food since young.

“Her cooking didn’t inspired me to be a chef but a food scientist,” she explains. Back in high school, she has already started reading books on the science behind cooking and taste as well as understanding the nutrients that keep the body well and functioning.

By nobody’s surprise, she went on to study Food Science and Nutrition at UCSI after graduating from high school. During the last year of university, she became very interested in research and even more in the bioactive compounds. Her undergraduate research work allowed her to properly understand how grandmas all over the world made tasty soup by using slow cooking.

She explains that the boiling of soup on a very low flame for an extended time allows diffusion of bioactive compounds from the herbs or meats into the soup. At the same time, the slow cooking with low flame also minimises the destruction of bioactive compounds present in the soup. Hence, making the soup tasty and nutritious too.

As a graduate with a degree in Food Science and Nutrition, she had many opportunities in different companies that manufacture food products as well as the companies that support food manufacturers by supplying processing equipment, food ingredients and packaging materials. However, Dr. Thoo didn’t get a job straight away as she realised there was much more to learn.

Consequently, she continued her studies to a PhD level in which she finished in 2013 at Universiti Putra Malaysia. She then started her career as an academic at Monash University Malaysia in that very same year. She continued researching, mainly in the areas of value-added food products, organogels and antioxidants as well as their application to food science and technology.

Her current project focuses on characterisation and modulation of physical properties of palm oil-based organogel. Another theme of her project is to understand molecular and physical factors that impact the stability and efficacy of natural antioxidant in food matrix.

Dr Thoo Yin Yin