Nathan Myhrvold, founder of The Cooking Lab, lead author of Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking and Modernist Cuisine at Home and author of The Photography of Modernist Cuisine, has had a passion for science, cooking, and photography since he was a boy. By the age of 13, Nathan had already cooked the family Thanksgiving feast and transformed the household bathroom into a darkroom.
Unlike many childhood hobbies, Nathan’s fascinations did not fade—they intensified. He consumed cookbooks and invested in new cameras and equipment even after enrolling in college at the age of 14.
He went on to earn a doctorate in theoretical and mathematical physics as well as a master’s degree in economics from Princeton University. He holds additional master’s degrees in geophysics and space physics and a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of California, Los Angeles. He did postdoctoral work with Stephen Hawking at Cambridge University researching cosmology, quantum field theory in curved space-time, and quantum theories of gravitation before starting a software company that would be acquired by Microsoft.
As his career developed, he still found time to explore the culinary world and photography. While working directly for Bill Gates as the chief technology officer at Microsoft, Nathan was part of the team that won the Memphis World Championship Barbecue contest; he worked as a stagier at Chef Thierry Rautureau’s restaurant Rover’s in Seattle; and then he took a leave of absence to earn his culinary diploma from École de Cuisine La Varenne in France.
Nathan retired from Microsoft in 1999 to found Intellectual Ventures and pursue several lifelong interests in photography, cooking, and food science. During this time, some of his photographs were published in America 24/7 (DK Publishing, Inc., 2003) and Washington 24/7 (DK Publishing, Inc., 2004). Unable to find practical information about sous vide cooking, he decided to write the book he had hoped already existed—one that provided a scientific explanation of the cooking process, the history of cooking, and the techniques, equipment, and recipes involved in Modernist cuisine. Inspired by this void in cooking literature, he decided to share the science of cooking and wonders of Modernist cuisine with others, hoping to pass on his own curiosity and passion for the movement.
In 2011, Nathan founded The Cooking Lab, hired an interdisciplinary team that included scientists, research chefs, and writers, and published the much acclaimed five-volume 2,438-page Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking. That was followed by Modernist Cuisine at Home in 2012, which applies the insights of the original book in a format designed for home cooks. In 2013, he wrote The Photography of Modernist Cuisine.
Nathan’s fascination with food continues. In 2014 he hired Francisco Migoya as head chef to work with him and the Modernist Cuisine team in researching and writing the next book Modernist Bread: The Art and Science, on-sale Spring 2017. Unlike any bread book ever published, the five-volume book will provide a comprehensive look at the history, techniques, ingredients, and equipment used to create yeast-leavened bread around the world. The team has conducted over 1,600 experiments to test longstanding practices and beliefs. The result is over 1,500 recipes that use new ingredients, techniques, and insight for baking bread in home and professional ovens.