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Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking Hardcover – March 7, 2011
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“The most astonishing cookbook of our time.”
—Katy McLaughlin, Wall Street Journal
“Big, beautiful, and worth the hype… it is the answer to everything you wanted to know about cooking, not to mention so many things you never thought about.”
—Andreas Viestad, The Washington Post
About the Author
Nathan Myhrvold, founder of The Cooking Lab, coauthor of Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking and Modernist Cuisine at Home, and author of The Photography of Modernist Cuisine, has had a passion for science, cooking, and photography since he was a boy. By the age of 13, Nathan had already cooked the family Thanksgiving feast and transformed the household bathroom into a darkroom.
Myhrvold holds a doctorate in theoretical and mathematical physics as well as a master’s degree in economics from Princeton University. He holds additional master’s degrees in geophysics and space physics and a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of California, Los Angeles. At Cambridge University, Myhrvold did postdoctoral work with Stephen Hawking in cosmology, quantum field theory in curved space-time, and quantum theories of gravitation, all before starting a software company that would be acquired by Microsoft.
As his career developed, he still found time to explore the culinary world and photography. While working directly for Bill Gates as the chief technology officer at Microsoft, Nathan was part of the team that won the Memphis World Championship Barbecue contest; he worked as a stagier at Chef Thierry Rautureau’s restaurant Rover’s, in Seattle; he then took a leave of absence to earn his culinary diploma from École de Cuisine La Varenne, in France.
Nathan retired from Microsoft in 1999 to found Intellectual Ventures and pursue several lifelong interests in photography, cooking, and food science. During this time, some of his photographs were published in America 24/7 (DK Publishing, Inc., 2003) and Washington 24/7 (DK Publishing, Inc., 2004). Unable to find practical information about sous vide cooking, he decided to write the book he felt was missing—one that provided a scientific explanation of the cooking process, the history of cooking, and the techniques, equipment, and recipes involved in Modernist cooking. Inspired by this void in cooking literature, he decided to share the science of cooking and wonders of Modernist cuisine with others, hoping to pass on his own curiosity and passion for the movement.
In the process of creating his first book, Nathan founded The Cooking Lab, hired an interdisciplinary team that included scientists, research chefs, and writers, and published the much-acclaimed six-volume, 2,438-page Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking, in 2011. That set was followed by Modernist Cuisine at Home, in 2012, which applies the insights of the original book in a format designed for home cooks. In 2013, he wrote The Photography of Modernist Cuisine, and The Cooking Lab partnered with Inkling to publish the Modernist Cuisine at Home app.
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Top Customer Reviews
It's hard to review this book without it coming across as hyperbolic: after all, it's a 50-pound, 2400-page beast that will cost you an entire year's cookbook budget and must have cost unfathomable sums to produce; you're either going to love it or hate it. However, I can say with confidence that if you liked McGee's On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen, you are going to love Modernist Cuisine.
While the press coverage of the book so far has focused on the more esoteric aspects of the book--centrifuges, rotovaps and chemicals, oh my!--the book actually simply treats those items on equal footing with woks, sauté pans, and water. It covers them because you can cook interesting, tasty food with them. Of course, the weird stuff gets all the attention, because, well... it's weird. But this is a book that devotes an entire chapter to *water*. And the things it teaches you *will* make you a better cook. The authors are never satisfied with "it just works, don't ask why." It seems like every paragraph, on every detail, is tightly focused on the question of not just "what happens?" or "how do you do it?" but also "WHY does it work?" and "HOW does it work?" This book is particularly excellent if you are science-minded, but it is written with such clarity that I believe anyone can learn these things from it. Who knew that blowing on a spoonful of soup to cool it was so complicated, and so interesting?Read more ›
If you liked McGee's ...Read more ›
Does MC live up to its hype? Yes it does. Is it relatively expensive as cookbooks go? Well, on a pound-for-pound basis, no, not really. Sure, in absolute terms something like $450-$625 for a "Cookbook" will seem crazy to many, but their error will be in pigeonholing MC as "Just a Cookbook", which is like categorizing a Ferrari as "just another car".
Are the authors of MC the ultimate Gods of Cooking? Well, no, not necessarily. They have their own viewpoint which becomes pretty clear after reading through any amount of the text, but still their contribution to the science and practice of cooking is huge, and their resulting construction (this set of books) is worthy of ownership for ANYONE interested in food OR cooking.
Reading MC is like reading McGee's On Food and Cooking, but with actual practical advice, actual recipes, and incredible illustrations.
So, misconceptions: "This book is only for the Molecular Gastronomy crowd". Really not true. There's surprisingly little Xtreme Cooking in the first three volumes. This set has a HUGE amount of general information that will be relevant and interesting to any cook, and indeed any lover of food. Even if you find the plated dish recipes in volume five to be inaccessible to you, you (yes YOU) will get an amazing amount of useful and fascinating information out of the first four volumes (at least).Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Oh God. Everybody needs this. Its ART! And so informative. AND so beautifulPublished 2 months ago by DRN-TK
Having previously bought the single volume “Modernist Cuisine at Home,” I was excited to receive the full multi-volume set. Read morePublished 3 months ago by D.C.
Modernist Cuisine by Nathan Myhrvold et. al. is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in late November just before heading to Arizona for Thanksgiving. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Kristine Fisher
This is an amazing book. Yes, it's massive and weighs 50 pounds, but it is so cool. There are many incredible pictures. The measurements are strange for sure. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Just-a-chef
This set of books is crazy...
The photography is dazzling, the depth of information contemplated here is out of this universe. Read more
These books are a part of a series of 5 volumes about food - in fact everything you would want to know about food and about cooking food. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Leyla
Encyclopedic, text book, and precise. This is a wonderful teaching tome for those interested in cooking, cooking and science (a la Harold McGee), modernist cuisine, and molecular... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Critterbee
Amaing book with beautiful photographs and anusual scientific insights into food technology. My son, who is an engeneere with a passion for cooking finds it very inspirational.Published 6 months ago by Dr. Olga Vasieva