It's no surprise that this year's James Beard Journalism Award for Cookbook of the Year went to Modernist Cuisine, the 2,400 page tome that catalogued and codified many of the techniques that chefs and food scientists have developed over the last few decades. Last year we were fortunate enough to get a look behind the scenes at the labs where a team of cooks, researchers, writers, and photographers worked for years to produce the book. Now seems like a good time to dust off that old slideshow which offers a unique look at some of the food and techniques that went it it.
'Nathan Myhrvold' on Serious Eats
File this under mesmerizing. Nathan Myhrvold and his Modernist Cuisine team, who published a 2,400-page, six-volume cookbook earlier this year, filmed Jell-O bouncing at 6,200 frames per second. If Jell-O had a backyard trampoline and jumped in super slo-mo, this is probably about what it'd look like.
Nathan Myhrvold of Modernist Cuisine stopped by the Colbert Report yesterday to chat with Steven and make 72-hour pastrami and 100% pistachio ice cream. Check out Colbert's reactions to Myhrvold's book. Here are some highlights: "God ordained that things should be boiled, or baked, or fried. Those are the missionary positions of cuisine—you're getting freaky here." "Am I going to die from eating this?... That's just like leaving a piece of beef out in August for three days, and now you want me to eat it."
If you've already had a chance to look at the photos insane dinner I had at the Modernist Cuisine Cooking Lab in Seattle a couple weeks back, you may be interested in knowing what goes into preparing all that food, and the book. Before the meal, we took an extensive tour of the massive warehouse space that houses the Cooking Lab. Ever seen a microwave cut in half?
The awesome wok shot was made by cutting a wok completely in half and cooking in it. This shot, on the other hand, was an even simpler one: only the lid was cut in half in order to demonstrate inefficiencies when a pot gets heated.
With stunning images like this, you'd think that computers and Photoshop played a huge role in the production of the artwork from Modernist Cuisine. You'd be wrong. How did they get a shot of noodles being tossed in half a wok? Easy. "We cut a wok in half and tossed noodles in it," explains Nathan Myhrvold.
"People tend to start filming themselves doing stupid things when there's a high speed camera lying around," said Nathan Myhrvold during our tour of the Modernist Cuisine laboratory. This video was one of the cooler ones we watched. It shows what happens when a kernel of popcorn pops. As it heat up, moisture trapped inside converts to steam, building up a massive amount of pressure. Eventually, that pressure becomes so great the the steam starts to escape the outer shell, causing the kernel to shoot up on a thin jet of steam.
To describe Modernist Cuisine as "a cookbook" is a bit like describing Mount Everest as a hill. With 2,438 pages—3,216 full color photographs and 1.1 million words—Modernist Cuisine will surely be the longest, most thorough examination of food ever published. It hits the market next month with a price tag of $625. The ink alone weighs over 4 pounds—that's about the same as Thomas Keller's entire French Laundry Cookbook.
Cooking pizza on a metal surface is nothing new to Slice'rs, many of whom already use the Lodge cast iron pizza griddle or do the cast iron skillet hack. But here it gets an endorsement from Nathan Myhrvold and his team of mad culinary scientists in the six-volume mega science-of-cooking collection Modernist Cuisine.
Last Saturday, I attended a dinner hosted by Nathan Myhrvold, at his cooking lab in Bellevue just outside of downtown Seattle, the place where all of the testing, documenting, writing, and photography happened for his upcoming 2,400-page book Modernist Cuisine—a tome that documents, illustrates, and codifies pretty much every cooking technique from prehistory to the present. Normally I wouldn't do a "hey guys, look at this cool event I went to" type post, but I think this one deserves it.
Last week, we showed you a picture of the burger out of Modernist Cuisine, the 2,400-page cookbook by Nathan Myhrvold that catalogs, documents, and illustrates pretty much every savory cooking technique from prehistory to the present, with a particular focus on the Modernist movement of the last couple decades. Last night, I went to a dinner at the book's research laboratory in Seattle. Let's just say it was pretty freaking awesome. Check out the full menu.
A few years ago, I dubbed Heston Blumenthal's burger from his In Search of Perfection series to be The Most Labor-Intensive Burger in The World. And rightfully so. The recipe, which involves making the patty, cheese slices, ketchup, and buns takes a whopping 30 hours and 4 minutes to complete from start to finish. Well, in Modernist Cuisine, the 2,400+ page, 5 volume, $625, most-highly-anticipated-cookbook-of-the-century that's getting just as much attention for its photography as for its thoroughness, Dr. Nathan Myhrvold one-ups Heston several times over.
Grant Achatz, Nathan Myhrvold. On Wednesday night I attended a panel discussion that explored the ways that science and technology are transforming our notions of food and technology. The participants were Alinea's Grant Achatz, a newly minted author whose...