ICE Hosts MC in NYC

In conjunction with Modernist Cuisine‘s whistle-stop launch tour this week, the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) hosted a fantastic event at their Manhattan headquarters on Wednesday, March 23.

Nathan kicked off the event with a presentation, followed by a question and answer session with the attendees.

After the presentation, the group made their way to a Modernist Cuisine reception on the 14th floor. The reception featured seven tasting stations, each lead by a member of the Culinary Team.

Anjana, Johnny, and Max (who graduated with highest honors from ICE) were on hand throughout the event.

By all accounts, the event was a raging success, thanks in no small part to the outstanding facility, competent staff, and gracious hospitality provided by the Institute of Culinary Education. The Modernist Cuisine team is eternally grateful.

Dr. Nathan Myhrvold Receives Honorary Degree from CIA

During today’s graduation ceremony at the Culinary Institute of America, Nathan became the third person to be awarded an honorary degree from the institution. He delivered the commencement address at graduation ceremonies for the CIA’s Hyde Park campus, and later in the day delivered a presentation about Modernist Cuisine to more than 1,000 students.

Nathan and CIA President, Dr. L. Timothy Ryan

During Nathan’s address, he admitted that (despite having earned several advanced degrees) this was the first commencement he had ever attended. Following Nathan’s remarks, Dr. L. Timothy Ryan, the president of the CIA, rejoined him on stage and issued a proclamation making Nathan an honorary alumnus. For more details and photos, see the coverage on the CIA website.


Nathan Addressing Graduates

Dr. Kathy Merten gave the Invocation, which was followed by a speech given by student Jack Stoessel. Some in the audience were visibly moved by Stoessel’s remarks, which included the following quote from the song “Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)” by Baz Luhrmann: “Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t.”


Dr. Kathy Merten
Jack Stoessel

We Don’t Scream Over Ice Cream

Nathan and the Modernist Cuisine team are in the middle of a whirlwind tour of New York showcasing the book and the recipes therein. From small samples prepared on live television to large multi-course meals served to 350 renowned chefs and food critics, the Modernist meals on wheels tour has been a massive logistical undertaking with no margin for error.

Of all the people and perishables that had to arrive at each venue on time and in top form, it was one of the least delicate dishes that almost fell victim to the inevitable complication.

Pistachio ice cream isn’t really ice cream at all. Rather, it is a constructed cream made from pistachios and emulsifiers. It contains no egg or dairy products and thus can be made well in advance, stored, and shipped at room temperature. It does, however, need to be churned and chilled before serving, which turned out to be a big, last minute problem.

Back in Seattle, the team made 12 liters of pistachio ice cream well ahead of the New York events. After a series of plane, train, and automobile rides, the pistachio ice cream mixture arrived at the venue a few hours before it was to be served to 350 people.

As planned, the team loaded the mixture into the ice cream machines where it was to be churned and chilled into what can only be described as an intense yet pure tasting pistachio gelato. After a few hours of slow churning in the machine, it develops a texture that is indistinguishable from the soft serve ice cream that usually comes out of an ice cream machine. In this case, however, one of the machines refused to cooperate, breaking down before the first batch could be made.

Fortunately, the facility had two ice cream machines and the team calculated that they could still serve all 350 guests cold pistachio ice cream on time using a single machine. They set out to do just that until the second machine failed.

Panic ensued.

Guests would be arriving in a few hours expecting their meals to conclude with the pistachio ice cream, which has become one of the most iconic recipes in the book. The team quickly hatched a new plan: One of them would rent a car to take the warm mixture and a cooler of dry ice to the nearest ice cream machine.

Rental car? Check. Cooler of dry ice? Check. A working but currently idle ice cream machine owned by someone willing to let us use it? Not so fast! In a city where you can supposedly get anything you want in a hurry, an ice cream machine turned out to be remarkably hard to find.

Ultimately though, New York and the culinary community came through. Across town, legendary chef Johny Iuzzini was just finishing his desert service at Jean Georges. He graciously agreed to let the Modernist Cuisine team use his ice cream machine.

After being whisked across Manhattan and chilled, one liter at a time, in the kitchen at Jean Georges, the pistachio ice cream hit the tables at just the right time and temperature. It was such a big hit that some of the guests formed a mob and cornered Nathan, demanding the recipe.

The day’s crisis averted, the team packed up and got ready for another challenging day of blowing their culinary colleagues’ minds with Modernist masterpieces. For the Modernist Cuisine team, it was just another day at the Cooking Lab.

Core Club Gets a Taste of Modernist Cuisine

Esteemed guests from the culinary world were treated to an evening Q&A with Vogue food critic Jeffrey Steingarten followed by a Modernist dinner at New York’s legendary Core Club last night.

Hosted and prepared by the Modernist Cuisine team, the dinner featured a variety of Modernist dishes from the book:

Goat Milk Ricotta and Peas

fresh ricotta, centrifuged pea puree layers, essential oil

Geoduck Vongole
centrifuged broth

Caramelized Carrot Soup
pressure-cooked with baking soda

Mushroom Omelet
constructed egg stripes, steamed in a combi oven

Pastrami, Sauerkraut, Cognac Mustard
cooked sous vide for 72 h, precisely cured, brined, and fermented

Pistachio Ice Cream, Cherry, Arlettes
frozen constructed cream

Gruyere Cheese Caramels
sweet and savory caramel, edible film

Sold-out audience at the N.Y. Academy of Sciences Gets a Preview of Modernist Cuisine

The New York Academy of Science’s “Science and the City” program this week featured Nathan Myhrvold and Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi, who discussed his new book Modernist Cuisine and presented some of the images and ultra slow-motion videos created at his company’s lab in Bellevue, Wash.


“This is the largest event of this kind we’ve ever had,” said Adrienne Burke, who organizes the “Science and the City” program. Everyone in the crowd got a flavor for the book in more ways than one—as Myhrvold and Lakshmi answered questions from the audience, servers passed out samples of dairy-free pistachio gelato, made from a recipe in the book that homogenizes water with pistachio fats and puree to yield a silky-smooth texture and intense nut flavor without the need for cream. (Myhrvold demonstrated this recipe and technique to Matt Lauer on NBC’s “Today Show” this morning.)

Among the more entertaining questions of the evening posed to Myhrvold, who is known for his willingness to try most any food, was: What is the most disgusting food you have ever eaten? His answer: Icelandic rotten shark is a close second to Sardinian maggot cheese. But the descriptions of how these local delicacies are made are actually quite fascinating.

Nathan Myhrvold describes his strangest meals

Modernist Cuisine unveiled in NYC at Jean Georges restaurant

Nathan Myhrvold and Ferran AdriàTim and Nina Zagat, founders of the famed Zagat line of restaurant guides, teamed up with chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten to throw a breakfast launch party for Modernist Cuisine this morning at Jean-Georges’s renowned New York restaurant. The guests at the sold-out function included many of the most recognizable names in the culinary world, from pioneering chefs like Ferran Adrià of elBulli, Wylie Dufresne of wd~50, and Dave Arnold of the French Culinary Institute to esteemed food and culture writers like Corby Kummer and Calvin Trillin, to trendsetter celebrities like Martha Stewart and Padma Lakshmi.

Ferran Adrià samples food from Modernist Cuisine

The Modernist Cuisine culinary team was on hand in the kitchen to work alongside Jean-Georges staff to prepare the meal, which included:

  • corn bread with bacon jam, made with centrifuged corn juice;
  • a mushroom omelet, featuring precisely constructed egg stripes, steamed in a combi oven and accompanied by mushroom marmalade;
  • short-rib pastrami, cooked sous vide for 72 h and flavored in a high-tech smoker; accompanied by hash potatoes cavitated in an ultrasonic bath and an egg yolk cooked sous vide;
  • pots de crème made with cold-infused coffee and topped with maple crumble, accompanied by an Earl Grey posset, served with Meyer lemon curd and praline granola.

Nathan presents an overview of the bookFor more photos and details, hop over to Zagat’s Buzz page.



Modernist Cuisine at Jean Georges on YouTube

Dinner with René Redzepi

Nathan, Max, and I recently had the pleasure of meeting chef René Redzepi from Noma while he was in Seattle promoting his wonderful new book, Noma: Time and Place in Nordic Cuisine. I really admire what René set out to accomplish at Noma and am impressed by his well-deserved success. René’s sincerity and passion are apparent when you talk to him. And, while he is perfectly fluent in English, his modesty and restraint constantly reminds me that he is very much a Dane.

I recognized this personality trait because I’d seen it before. There was a period in my life when I lived in Sweden, and I spent enough time in Denmark with Danish friends to recognize that, in both countries, there is a profound sense of social responsibility that influences nearly every aspect of day to day life. Scandinavians like to cooperate: with each other, with society, and with nature. Indeed, the word Lego—perhaps the most famous Danish export—originates from the words leg and godt, which together roughly translate as “play well.” Those lucky enough to have dined at Noma have experienced firsthand how closely René’s cooking cooperates with nature and expresses a profound sense of place. And, having spoken with friends who have spent time cooking with René at Noma, it’s clear that the importance of cooperation and openness goes beyond the food and cooking.

Speaking of food, we didn’t go hungry on our night with René. Chef William Belickis hosted the reception for chef Redzepi and his cookbook at Mistral Kitchen. William prepared an outstanding menu inspired by the cooking of Noma, adding a few great dishes that were distinctly his own—the tandoori-charred lamb loin with a sauce prepared from lettuce was not only delicious, but also reminded me that lettuce is often given short shrift as a versatile ingredient. The meal also reminded Nathan, Max, and me how fortunate we are to live in Seattle. While we won’t be cooking with musk ox or wild sea buckthorn anytime soon, the Cascades and Puget Sound offer an abundance of ingredients that can only be found here and can imbue our cooking with a sense of place that is uniquely Pacific Northwest.

The Cooking Lab Reception

Last night, the authors of Modernist Cuisine hosted a small demonstration and reception at The Cooking Lab, where the book was created. (I say “created” rather than “written” because the book contains more original art and research than some universities — but that is for another post). In attendance were approximately 30 food bloggers, many in town for the International Food Bloggers Convention (IFBC) which kicks off later today. I will leave the coverage of the reception itself to the other bloggers for now, but you can see a copy of the menu here. I personally am still thinking about the ultrasonic fries and pressure-cooked grits.

The authors — Nathan, Chris, and Max — clearly enjoyed the passion and energy of the assembled group. Nathan was constantly surrounded by a group three people deep, who barraged him with questions about everything from metallurgy to physics. Chris engaged in detailed and thoughtful conversations with smaller groups and individual bloggers. I overheard a few guests ask, “You did WHAT to that cherry?” (You probably had to be there to really appreciate that, but the authors created a delicious foie gras that looked like a cherry.) Max, who happily conversed and entertained from the kitchen side of the lab, said of the evening, “Every conversation I had was meaningful.”

Don’t get me wrong. This wasn’t a social gathering of the book’s or the authors’ fans; they were food writers and connoisseurs. They asked some tough questions and pressed for their answers. But they did so out of what appeared to be genuine interest. The conversations I saw struck me as in-person analogues of the sincere and bidirectional online interactions on which the IFBC is based.

But you needn’t take my word for it. If you are in Seattle and happen to be registered for IFBC, stop by the Modernist Cuisine display on Friday night and see for yourself. The first 50 or so attendees to stop by for a taste of our caramelized carrot soup with young ginger, licorice root, and carotene butter, will also receive a sample booklet to take home to the family. See you there!