Gallery: Behind the Scenes at James Beard Best Cookbook Winner Modernist Cuisine's Cooking Lab

  • Birdseye View

    The Cooking Lab at Intellectual Ventures in Bellevue. One small corner of a 30,000 foot space.

    iSi Whipper and Pepper Mill

    Hundreds of objects were cut in half like this in order to display their inner workings.

    A Microwave

    A Microwave

    You can see the stirrer and the magnetron in this cross section, along with a bag of popcorn (each kernel was meticulously glued into place).

    Spark Machining Tool

    This is the machine used to cut metal objects in half. A high-voltage wire creates sparks that cut metal to 1,000th-of-an-inch accuracy.

    The Traditional Pantry

    Spices and dried herbs sit right next to...

    The Modernist Pantry

    ...gelling agents, emulsifiers, thickeners, and other such fun things.

    The Water Jet Cutter

    David Chang looks on coolly at a machine capable of cutting pretty much anything with a high powered water jet infused with a fine grit.

    Vacuum Sealer

    Much modern cuisine relies on cooking foods in vacuum sealed bags. If you've eaten in a fancy restaurant in the last few years, chances are you've already had food cooked this way, even if you didn't know it.

    The Water Circulator

    A circulator from Polyscience designed to maintain a water bath temperature to within a tenth of a degree. The ping pong balls floating on top serve as an insulator, helping the bath to maintain its temperature.

    Plating Monkfish

    A plate of monkfish liver torchon, cooked in the water bath.

    A Rotary Evaporator

    A rotary evaporator is used for low-temperature distillation. The idea is that by applying a vacuum to a liquid, it will evaporate at very low temperatures, allowing you to extract different compounds without cooking them. Remarkably pure flavors are the result.

    A Liquid Nitrogen Container

    Liquid nitrogen vaporizes at around -321°F. That's pretty darn cold. Liquids and foams freeze almost instantly upon contact, making it ideal for rapid chilling and setting of things like this melt-in-your-mouth apple foam.

    Freeze Dried Elotes

    Mexican street corn on a spoon with freeze dried corn, cotija, chili, and cilantro.

    A Cold Hot Line

    No gas burners here—everything is cooked on portable induction cooktops which heat metal by creating an alternating electromagnetic field. The field induces an alternating current in the metal in the pan, which subsequently heats up via resistance. It's fast, energy efficient, and keeps the kitchen cool.


    Vegetables being plated for a dish of rare beef stew.

    Hanging Chickens

    To maximize crispness and to aid in even cooking, the legs of the chicken are outstretched and the skin allowed to dry for several days, just like a Peking duck.

    Up In Smoke

    A blast of steam escapes from the Rational combi-oven used to crisp up the skins of the chickens just before serving.

    The Chicken

    The breast meat is extraordinarily moist, and the paper-thin crisp skin melts in your mouth.

    The Homogenizer

    A high powered mounted homogenizer easily emulsifies fats and liquids into stable, creamy mixtures. The head has a unique shearing action that I'm hoping will find its way to handheld burr blenders soon.

    Yeah, they've got one too.

    Looks like the office pups have got some competition.

    The Machine Shop

    Prototypes of kitchen tools and all of the other projects going on at Intellectual Ventures are rigged up in this gigantic machining shop.

    Foie Rocher

    There's really no reason this slide is here, other than the fact that these hazelnut and chocolate-coated balls of frozen foie gras terrine are incredibly good.

    Nathan Presents a Dish

    Michael Laiskonis, Michael Voltaggio, Karl Vennes, and Waylnn Lucas, Dana Cowin, and Anne Haerle look on as Nathan Myhrvold explains the next course.

    Mushroom Soup

    A savory mushroom foam is dispensed on top of an intense consommé. Once of the many uses for the iSi whipper.

    Strike a Pose

    Little bonus for those of you who stuck it out to the end of the slideshow. Nathan Myhrvold strikes an unfortunate (but humorous) pose with a geoduck. Tim Zagat looks on, unimpressed.