“Too few people understand a really good sandwich.” –James Beard
Given the quote above, we hoped that James Beard would appreciate our Ultimate Burger, and consider us to be knowledgeable in our understanding of “a really good sandwich.” It was with the enthusiasm of creativity and scientific discovery that we set out to find, not just the perfect burger, but everything! Before publishing Modernist Cuisine, there wasn’t anything like it. There was no precedent to go on. We chose to self-publish because publishing houses would only agree to a limited print run and great oversight. We published the book that we, as scientists and chefs, wanted. And it paid off. We have sold 45,000 copies in a little more than a year. And while I am greatly pleased with the response, the eminently prestigious James Beard Award is a validation of our efforts that conveys so much more than sales numbers. We are greatly honored to have received both the awards for “Professional Cooking” as well as “Cookbook of the Year.”
There is no better time than when receiving an award to publicly thank people. My coauthors, Chris Young and Maxime Bilet; photographer, Ryan Matthew Smith; and editor-in-chief, Wayt Gibbs, are just a few of the three dozen people who worked on this book. Others include our staff chefs, Grant Crilly, Johnny Zhu, Anjana Shanker, Sam Fahey-Burke; assistant photographer, Melissa Lehuta; art director, Mark Clemens; public relations representatives, Shelby Barnes, Amy Hatch, and Carrie Bachman; editors and editorial assistants, Karen Wright, Ellen Kurek, Tracy Cutchlow, and Daniel McCoy; and publishing advisors, Mark Pearson and Bruce Harris.
That’s not to even mention the expert reviewers and professionals who provided their expertise and advice. Among them are Ferran Adrià, Heston Blumenthal, David Chang, Kyle Connaughton, Srinivasan Damodaran, Eric Dickinson, Wylie Dufresne, James Hoffmann, David Kinch, David Julian McClements, Harold McGee, Donald Mottram, Joan Roca, Ted Russin, Jeffrey Steingarten, and Cesar Vega. If that’s not enough, dozens of other chefs provided recipes that we adapted or inspired us.
The competition for the James Beard Award was stiff this year. For “Cookbook of the Year” there were many, many cookbooks that could have easily won. Just in the “Cooking from a Professional Point of View” category we were up against the excellent Eleven Madison Park and The Art of Living According to Joe Beef. But we always knew we had an edge, and would crush the competition with the weight of our volumes, if nothing else.