Nathan Myhrvold and Modernist Cuisine

Nathan Myhrvold, an interesting character I’ve following for a few years now, has been in the news lately for his co-authorship with Maxime Bilet and Chris Young of the new food bible Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking (Amazon link). (Peep that beautiful, 100% WordPress-powered site.) I pre-ordered it forever ago, a fact that may surprise friends who know how little I cook, but I do love food and I was as interested in the pictures and the result of a detail-oriented and science-driven obsession with quality that goes all the way down to the stochastic printing process as the articles/recipes .

The books are, in a word, stunning. I’m probably a lifetime away from attempting a 30-hour burger, but last night I did try a sous-vide approach to a New York sirloin and it turned out amazing. (Though that photo probably won’t be in a future edition of Modernist Cuisine.) The fact I can barely scramble eggs but made a super-good steak might portend the apocalypse. I think sous-vide cooking is something that will appeal a lot to engineers or analytically minded folks because it’s a controlled process with predictable outcomes.

Here are some interesting links and videos I’d recommend around Modernist Cuisine, sous-vide cooking, and Nathan Myhrvold himself:

If you made it this far, two bonuses:

At the EG Conference in 2007 I interviewed Nathan Myhrvold about the Dvorak keyboard layout, which I’ve used about 11 years now, and here’s that video:

Second, Mark Pearson of Pear Press (also associated with one of my other favorite authors John Medina) recommends the Pizza Nepoletana technique in volume 2 page 26 as an accessible dish, and the tip on decanting wine in a blender.

Thanks to many friends for the links, and also for listening to me blather on about this for the past week or two. You may also be subject to more experiments in the future.

I’m just going to keep updating this post with more links:

10 thoughts on “Nathan Myhrvold and Modernist Cuisine

  1. I saw that picture when you tweeted, and thought, “Did Matt make that? …Nah. He must mean something else.”

    So glad I was wrong! Congrats!

  2. I think this quote from Harold McGee’s introduction to Thomas Keller’s Under Pressure is apt:

    Do the advantages of the sous vide method portend the mechanization of professional cooking, the triumph of technology over craft? I don’t think so. Precision heating offers unprecedented control over texture and flavor, and consequently more textures and flavors to choose among — just as cooks can now choose from an unprecedented range of ingredients and techniques from all over the world.

  3. The book is awesome… even though i like the Larousse Gastronomique more because you don’t need hightech equipment for cooking the recipes…

    1. I haven’t done affiliate links or ads on this blog for a few years now, it seemed weird to start it back up with this post.

  4. I read the NYT review. It all sounds sort of nuts. Do you think you’ll attempt any of the other stuff, beyond the sous vide technique?

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