Nathan Myhrvold is founder of Modernist Cuisine and lead author of Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking, Modernist Cuisine at Home, The Photography of Modernist Cuisine, Modernist Bread and the forthcoming Modernist Pizza. He has had a passion for science, cooking, and photography since he was a boy.
Nathan enrolled in college at the age of 14 and 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 an additional master’s degree 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.
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 a book that provided a scientific explanation of the cooking process, the history of cooking, and the techniques, equipment, and recipes involved in Modernist cuisine.
Nathan founded Modernist Cuisine and hired an interdisciplinary team that included scientists, research chefs, and writers. He and the team published the much acclaimed five-volume 2,438-page Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking (2011). In 2012, the groundbreaking cookbook won two James Beard Awards, three International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) Cookbook Awards, an induction into the Gourmand Cookbook Hall of Fame, and was included in The New Yorker’s list of “The Best Cookbooks of the Century so Far” (2019). The follow-up Modernist Cuisine at Home (2012), which applies the insights of the original book in a format designed for home cooks, earned an IACP Cookbook Award in 2013. That same year, Nathan wrote The Photography of Modernist Cuisine (2013); the massive photography book received two Gourmand World Cookbook Awards in 2014 as well as IndieFab and PubWest awards. The book also inspired Nathan to create a traveling art exhibit aptly called The Photography of Modernist Cuisine: The Exhibition, which traveled to the country’s leading science and culinary museums in Seattle, Boston, Silicon Valley, and New Orleans.
Nathan and Modernist Cuisine head chef Francisco Migoya wrote another five-volume tome, Modernist Bread in 2017. It provides a comprehensive look at the history, techniques, ingredients, and equipment used to create yeast-leavened bread around the world. The book won multiple awards in 2018 including a James Beard Award, the IACP Jane Grigson Award, and two Gourmand World Cookbook Awards in the categories of Best Food Book and Best Cookbook Publisher.
Modernist Cuisine Gallery opened in 2017 after Nathan received continued requests to buy the photography found in his books. With locations in Las Vegas, New Orleans, Seattle, and La Jolla, the gallery features large-scale, limited-edition artwork by Nathan and is the first gallery in the world to focus solely on food photography by a single artist. In 2019, Myhrvold was inducted into Heritage Radio Network’s Hall of Fame as an individual whose accomplishments have had a special impact on the food community.