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Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking Hardcover – Download: Adobe Reader, March 14, 2011
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“A visual roller coaster through the current world of food and cooking tools. . . . For the professional chef, modernist or not, it will be an invaluable reference.” —the New York Times
“While there have been era-defining cookbooks—Auguste Escoffier’s Le Guide Culinaire (1903) is one precedent—it’s unlikely that anyone will ever have the desire or where¬withal to produce a print project of this magnitude again. Myhrvold has spared no expense and taken the time to get it right.” —TIME
“The most astonishing cookbook of our time.” —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.” —the Washington Post
“Arguably the most beautiful, in-depth manual of cooking methods ever published.” —USA Today
“Modernist Cuisine is the most spectacular cookbook the world has ever seen. Lifting the lid—literally—on the alchemy of the kitchen, it will transform the way we think about food forever.” —the Independent
“It’s an encyclopedia, a manifesto, and a documentary, and, should you find a way to get your hands on it, you’re in for an experience that will leave you awed, exhausted, and agog with disbelief.” —the Boston Globe
“This book will change the way we understand the kitchen.” —Ferran Adrià
“The cookbook to end all cookbooks.” —David Chang
“Amazing! Unparalleled in its breadth and depth.” —Wylie Dufresne
“A breathtaking new benchmark in understanding cooking, Modernist Cuisine is destined to be as important a work for the 21st century as Escoffier’s Ma Cuisine was for the 20th century.” —David Kinch
“Modernist Cuisine is a landmark contribution to the craft of cooking and our understanding of its underlying principles. Its scale, detail, and eye-opening graphics are unmatched by any other book on the subject. It will be an invaluable resource for anyone with a serious interest in cooking techniques, whether the professional innovations of the last few decades or the long traditions on which they build.” —Harold McGee
“The most important book in the culinary arts since Escoffier.” —Tim Zagat
About the Author
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I caution future buyers to examine your books carefully. I found several pages with score marks, scratches, and smudges. Two pages from the “Kitchen Manual” were stuck together at a spot, and prying them apart was a delicate matter given its lightweight paper. Most problematic, several signatures from the center of one of the books pulled away from the backing material—the adhesive failed and the book is falling apart. It would have been better had the signatures been sewn to the backing material.
Prior to this I have flipped through the books and tried to read one book in 4 days. The science behind all method of cooking is explained in details with accompanying graphics. The collection is complete and so thorough. It is amazing.
The only complain that we (or my husband to be precise) had was the delay in getting the book to us. He had Prime to ensure 2 days delivery at most, but the book only got to us in 6 days, so it ruined his surprise by a day.
This is a book for scientists/engineers that are interested in understanding the process of food and cooking and how to get better, more consistent results. There is a heavy focus on equipment, and it is mostly top-of-the-line, large, expensive commercial equipment that may not be practical for many people. Most people are not going to go out and by a liquid nitrogen dewar, $10,000 CVap oven, $5,000 homogenizer or Pacojet grinder, or a $30,000 centrifuge (all on the must-have tool list), let alone a freeze or spray-dryer, rotary evaporator or vacuum concentrator.
Regardless, understanding how these are used in commercial food preparation, along with the history and reference information included is helpful to any science-minded home chef. And there is plenty of useful information on using ordinary equipment like a pressure cooker for making stock for example. It makes you re-think everything you do, and why you are doing it the "traditional" way, rather than a faster, more efficient, consistent modern method.
Top international reviews
First thing; these are not ‘normal’ cookbooks. There are no step-by-step recipes, these books are largely about the science and technique of cooking. They are aimed squarely at the professional chef or seriously keen amateur. That said, much of the hard science is explained in an extremely accessible manner (I wish science classes at school had been so informative), but you will still be slightly bemused by at least some of the legion of graphs that populate the first two volumes and in places the books are not an easy read. And herein justifies the exorbitant price tag for these books: these are a true labour of love.
The amount of scientific research and rigour that has gone into producing these tombs is astonishing, matched only by the lavish photography and presentation. They are beautiful, almost breathtaking in places. One can only imagine how much they cost to produce given the amount of high end culinary equipment was literally sawn in half for some of the stunning cut-away illustrations. The books cover almost every facet of cooking you can imagine from Wok technique, to the best setting agents for given fluids, to BBQ, smoking, equipment, ingredients, flavour matching...the list is endless. And never once do you feel like the authors are trying to be so generalist in content that they become master of none of it. Some will not be relevant to the home chef - unless you intend to turn your kitchen into a chemistry lab and start buying centrifuges, but what remains is still more than worth the ‘professional only’ elements. I’ve run out of bookmarks highlighting information I’ll want to return to. The smaller kitchen manual alone has more useful information contained in its numerous tables than all my other cook books combined.
I’ve now spent hours reading and re-reading the books and it’s all been a pleasure which has fundamentally changed the way I look at cooking and prepare dishes. Its allowed me to be truly creative rather than trying to replicate dishes as I now understand WHY things do and don’t work. They are also simply beautiful books in their own right which will draw in even neophyte cooks - although they will need arms like a heavyweight boxer to lift them as each volume is a rigorous weights session in its own right!
If you are the kind of person utterly addicted to Great British Menu and Professional Masterchef and aspire to replicate that level of cooking and understanding then these books will be your bible. Just don’t be surprised to find yourself trawling second hand catering equipment eBay as a result of reading it!
My main complaint however (and two star rating) has to do with the build quality. After hearing the main author praise the quality of the books; i.e. the extra expensive paper they used, the amount of ink used to print the books, and etc. in several interviews, I expected top notch quality. But after having had the set for just two weeks, every book is falling apart. All the signatures of the books are pulling away from its binding. I find it truly appalling that books this expensive are of such bad quality.