We could talk about cooking as a function of chemistry and physics. Better to talk about elbow grease. Specifically, a physical theory of everyday cooking, The Time-Work Continuum.
The premise is simple: You start with food, apply a variable equation of time and energy — guided perhaps, by a recipe — and sooner or later you have a meal. To eat sooner, you will have to expend more of your own energy; if you’re willing to wait, then you have the luxury of letting heat serve as the primary energy, transforming the raw ingredients with minimal input from you.
According to this hypothesis, every dish can be plotted along a single X axis, measured by Time at one end and Work at the other. If you wanted to go for fancier science, put time on the X axis and a work on the Y and plot recipes in quadrants. (Meanwhile, I’ll make a sandwich.)