In 2005, Molly Birnbaum was a recent college grad with a kitchen job in an acclaimed restaurant and a dream of going to culinary school. She planned to make a career out of her love for food. But a life-altering accident stole two of her most important tools: her senses of smell and taste.
Molly vividly remembers the moment she realized it. It was a month after she’d been hit by a car while out for a jog. While Molly was recovering from her multiple injuries and surgeries, her stepmother baked an apple crisp. Everyone else in the room raved over the aroma, but Molly was confused. She couldn’t smell a thing.
In this episode of the Webby Award–winning podcast Proof, Molly—the author of Season to Taste: How I Lost My Sense of Smell and Found My Way and the Editor in Chief of America's Test Kitchen Kids—recounts the years that followed. She spent them talking to doctors, scientists, researchers, chefs, and even perfumers about how a person who has lost their senses of smell and taste might recover them and, in her case, reclaim their dream of working in the food world.