FAQs - Modernist Cuisine

Frequently Asked Questions


About the Book

What is Modernist Cuisine?

Modernist cuisine, the culinary movement, is dedicated to looking at cooking from new angles. The movement has themes and driving forces similar to Impressionism, the Bauhaus, and other Modernist avant-garde movements. Effectively, Modernist cuisine boils down to two key principles: always strive to produce the most delicious, technically exquisite food, and always apply analytical thinking and creativity to constantly advance the face of cuisine. Those principles carry over to the book. Through the lens of science, Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking is about understanding the what, how, and why behind food and cooking. Modernist Cuisine is also about putting the techniques being used in the world’s best restaurants in the hands of passionate and curious cooks everywhere.

Why write a five-volume book?

While researching and writing Modernist Cuisine, Nathan and his team continued to see reasons for expanding the scope of the project. Modernist Cuisine was initially supposed to be a comprehensive explanation of sous vide cooking. Nathan soon realized that sous vide cooking is intrinsically linked to food safety and, through scientific research, discovered that much of what was written about food safety was wrong. This led to adding a section about food safety, which then led us to include information about the physics of heat and water. Before long, our scope expanded further yet, raising questions about how traditional cooking methods work. Aside from its intrinsic interest, the science of cooking would help chefs apply Modernist techniques. Eventually, we reached a slippery slope toward a book of epic proportions. We had to draw the line somewhere, so we settled on a multivolume book dedicated to the art and science of cooking.

Is Modernist Cuisine only about avant-garde or unusually challenging food?

Modernist Cuisine covers a broad range of cuisine, including many familiar foods and dishes. Although we’re telling the story of Modernist cuisine, our recipes are not limited to cutting-edge dishes—we cover everything from American regional barbecue to innovative flavored gels. The point is not to tout modern approaches or science for their own sake but to illustrate how the principles of Modernist cooking can be applied across a wide range of recipes. We do include recipes and techniques that are from Modernist restaurants, which are pushing the boundaries of cuisine, but we also think that those who ascribe to a traditional food aesthetic will find plenty in Modernist Cuisine to engage their interests.

Who is Modernist Cuisine for?

Modernist Cuisine aims to be a resource for professional chefs, passionate home cooks, and anyone interested in understanding the science behind cooking. Our goal with the expansive scope of the book is to appeal to both traditionally minded chefs, as well as those looking to learn about Modernist cooking techniques and technologies. We believe if you’re armed with the science behind the phenomena of different cooking techniques, whether traditional or Modernist, you will be able to go beyond a recipe and truly innovate in your kitchen.

Why is the book cost what it does?

The five-volume set includes 2,438 pages published on high-quality art paper using advanced stochastic printing technology, and a convenient, wire-bound kitchen manual, all housed within a premium acrylic slipcase. Such high-production quality is costly to produce, but we set out to make a durable book that anyone would be proud to own. We believe that it is a great value for the price; we hope that you will agree.

What’s Inside

What do the volumes cover?

The book is divided into five volumes and is 2,438 pages in length. Volume 1: History and Fundamentals provides a foundation for understanding the techniques described in other volumes, including explanations about food health and safety, as well as the relationship of food to heat, energy, and water. In Volume 2: Techniques and Equipment, we uncover the science behind traditional cooking methods and take an in-depth look at sous vide cooking, plus the tools needed to stock a Modernist kitchen. Volume 3: Animals and Plants includes sections on meat, seafood, and vegetables, while Volume 4: Ingredients and Preparation showcases ingredients in Modernist cooking. Volume 5: Plated Dish Recipes is more like a traditional cookbook than the other volumes and covers a wide range of recipes.

This is a 2,438-page book. Is there anything in cooking that it does not cover?

As we worked on the book, we kept expanding its scope. We could have added more still, but then it never would have been completed. We limited the book to savory cuisine, so we did not cover pastry, desserts, or baked goods in Modernist Cuisine. Modernist Bread focuses on microbial-leavened bread and includes recipes.

How are the recipes organized?

The recipes in Modernist Cuisine are organized by three distinct classes, including example recipes, parametric recipes, and plated-dish recipes. Each type of recipe serves a different purpose in illustrating how particular ingredients or techniques can be applied in the kitchen. They’re also divided this way to help you understand the practical applications of culinary principles and visualize how you might apply them in other contexts. You will find examples of each throughout the book.

Can a home chef actually make the dishes in the book?

Many of the recipes in the book can be made in a conventional home kitchen, especially if you get some fairly inexpensive additional equipment, like a digital gram scale or a water bath for sous vide cooking. We decided early on, however, that we would not simplify those recipes that illustrate the fascinating culinary applications of advanced ingredients like liquid nitrogen or equipment such as centrifuges and rotor-stator homogenizers. As a result, the book offers recipes that will be exciting for anybody who loves food, regardless of whether they are an amateur at home or a professional chef. We are confident that home chefs will be able to execute the majority of the techniques and recipes in this book.

Does Modernist Cuisine include a kitchen manual?

Yes, Modernist Cuisine includes a 374-page, wire-bound kitchen manual that makes it easy to bring all the recipes and reference tables into the kitchen in one compact collection.


Are the volumes available separately?

We wrote the book so that it is self-consistent and functions as a whole. Nearly every page includes references to material in other volumes. Like Modernist Bread, we have no plans to sell volumes separately.

Is Modernist Cuisine available in bookstores?

All of our books are available through the Modernist Cuisine Shop. You can find additional online booksellers who carry the book on our Buy page. It’s also available at retail locations wherever fine books are sold.

Is Modernist Cuisine available in languages other than English?

Yes. Modernist Cuisine has been translated into French, German, Spanish, and Chinese.

Is Modernist Cuisine available outside of the US?

Modernist Cuisine is available where all fine books are sold, as well as through online booksellers throughout the world.

Can I still register my Modernist Cuisine book?

We decided to make keeping in touch simple, so we are no longer asking readers to register their books. Although we’ve taken down the registration system on our website, our community of readers can receive updates about new projects, events in their area, and special promotions by signing up for our email list and following us on social media.