With so many upcoming talks, presentations, classes, and demonstrations, we’ve added an Events page. We’ll also blog about events as we add author appearances to the schedule.
Today, we’re happy to announce that MC coauthors Nathan Myhrvold and Maxime Bilet will be appearing at The Restaurant Show in London on Monday, October 10, 2011, at 2:00 p.m. GST. Click here for more details.
Nathan Myhrvold, author of Modernist Cuisine, recently shared some neat tricks for adding barrel-aged flavor to cocktails on starchefs.com. Nathan says:
“When you age a liquid in a wood barrel, whether it’s wine or it’s whisky, you wind up leeching some flavor compounds out of the wood, and those wood flavor compounds can be amazing. Until recently, those things have been the purview of the winemaker or the whisky maker, but there’s no reason you can’t do those extractions as a mixologist or cocktail chef or whatever you want to call it.”
Just last week, Star Chefs announced that Modernist Cuisine coauthor Chris Young will make another appearance at the Star Chefs Congress (October 2-4, 2011, at the Park Avenue Armory in New York City) this year. Chris will make his main-stage presentation on the afternoon of October 3. His talk will cover several techniques from Modernist Cuisine.
Last month, Modernist Cuisine author Nathan Myhrvold gave an hour-long presentation and Q&A session at Microsoft Research in Bellevue, Wash. In the presentation, he gives a quick tour of the massive book, talks a bit about how it was made, and focuses on some of the more technical aspects of this kind of cooking. To see the talk, use the embedded Silverlight player below, or visit the page at the Microsoft Research site for a rich-interface version.
Barbecue season is in full swing, which has John Tierney of The New York Times thinking burgers. He mused over Modernist Cuisine‘s contribution to the world of hamburgers in the June 6 piece in the Science Times section of the paper. What would happen, he wondered, if Nathan Myhrvold and haute-hamburger creator Daniel Boulud had a cook-off? Nathan explains the physics of spatula-frying burgers and the process of making the ultimate burger by a combination of sous vide, liquid nitrogen, and deep-frying techniques, as demonstrated in MC. The book also goes into much greater detail on, and contains beautiful illustrations of, the transformations that beef and other meats undergo during cooking.
As for who would win a cook-off… well, we know who we would pick. Leave a comment to let us know what you think.
TIME magazine has included Modernist Cuisine author Nathan Myhrvold in the annual poll it conducts to assemble the TIME 100 list. If you think the book is influential, let the editors of TIME know by casting your vote here. As of this writing, our rank is 162. Let’s see if we can bump it above 100!
Just a few days after the first shipment of Modernist Cuisine passed through the Port of Seattle, author Nathan Myhrvold sat down with UWTV’s Media Space to discuss the book’s mission, its impact, and why he created a striped omelet. You can find a detailed account of the event on UWTV’s website or watch the video of the interview below:
Nathan said Modernist Cuisine was driven by a confluence of need, opportunity, and available talent. He explained how the need for a comprehensive book covering recent innovations in cooking led him to build The Cooking Lab and assemble the team that made the project possible. At 1.1 million words and 2,438 pages, Modernist Cuisine makes advanced Modernist cooking techniques and information accessible to the average person.
While he didn’t have time to answer questions from Twitter during the interview, Nathan’s answers to some of those questions are presented below:
Amyrolph: What’s your favorite recipe [from the book]? Nathan: Given the number of recipes and variations in the book, it is impossible for me to pick just one. I am, however, a well-known barbecue lover, so those recipes will always rank high in my book!
Ryanositis: Great photography for your new book! How did you get some of those cutaway shots? Nathan: At The Cooking Lab, we have access to nifty toys like high-speed video equipment and a full machine shop. The cutaway shots you see in the book are actual cutaways: that is, we actually did cut things in half to take the pictures! As I’m fond of saying, we now have two halves of the best stocked kitchen in the world!
Larry_B: Is there a subset of equipment or supplies that are reasonable for home cooks? Nathan: Yes. Chapter 10 on The Modernist Kitchen includes three tables that list, in rank order of usefulness, cooking equipment we recommend that is beyond the ordinary gear that pretty much all home cooks have. The first table details “Must-Have Tools for the Modernist Kitchen,” the second table is “Inexpensive but Invaluable Modernist Tools,” and the third lists “Classic Tools for Modernist Cooks.” Perhaps more important, the book explains what we looked for in the equipment and why, so the reader can make better choices when deciding if and what to buy.
Amyrainey: How have you managed the online movement that’s formed around Modernist Cuisine? How do you plan to leverage this enthusiasm? Nathan: I’m not sure we’re managing it so much as participating in it and nurturing it. Modernist Cuisine came about largely as a result of my involvement in online forums, so we made a commitment to remain engaged online throughout the project and beyond. We are very active and engaged on our blog at modernistcuisine.com and on Facebook and Twitter, where we invite your comments!
SunaG: Is molecular gastronomy just fancy processed food? Nathan: This is a topic I have covered extensively on the blog, but the short answer is that it depends on your definition of processed and fancy. All food is processed in one way or another: from picking it off the vine or digging it out of the ground to butchering and cooking. Contrary to popular belief, making even the simplest bread is a highly complex process. Everyone is free to assign arbitrary values to the type and amount of processing they prefer. I would simply suggest that these values are, in fact, arbitrary.
Autumnlerner: What are your thoughts on the raw food movement and Modernist cuisine? Compatible? Nathan: Again, this depends largely on your definition of raw. The book covers everything from foods that are prepared and served cold to dishes that undergo multiple cooking stages to achieve a range of doneness within a single food. But to address your question, the Modernist and raw food movements are entirely compatible as long as people can eat what they want. And at various points in the book we do explain a variety of techniques, such as marination, that can achieve cooked textures without the application of heat.
Dakini_3: Can Modernist cuisine be vegetarian and sustainable? Nathan: Sure. Modernist techniques can be used to create foods with so many flavors and textures that any single ingredient can be completely avoided without sacrificing taste. In fact one of the advantages of using modern ingredients is the new paths it provides to familiar culinary destinations. For example we have recipes in the book for a vegan pistachio gelato and for “meat” made of watermelon, as well as fantastic recipes for homemade tofus.
The issue of sustainability has more to do with how and where the ingredients you select are produced than with how they are prepared. We encourage cooks to make sustainable decisions before they even enter the kitchen.
Mrsmoy: How can Modernist cooking be applied to hunger relief (if at all)? Nathan: This is an interesting question to which I don’t have a ready answer. There does seem to be some potential for improving the safety, nutrition, and storage life of the available food, but this aspect would benefit from the attention of expert chefs who are familiar with Modernist techniques and ingredients.
Joepavey: What’s the biggest science cooking disaster you’ve had? Nathan: Well, it wasn’t a big disaster for me personally because I wasn’t the victim, but getting the shot of food being flung above the wok was a painful experience for Max! Let’s just say a fire extinguisher was involved.
Larry_B: What about food safety and typical sous vide temperatures? Nathan: This is another issue that we cover at length in the book and on the blog, in part because some of our findings conflict with conventional wisdom and even some FDA recommendations. The short answer is that sous vide cooking is completely safe if done properly. For the (much) longer answer, you’ll have to buy the book. Scientific American recently published a lengthy excerpt from our chapter on Food Safety Rules that explains some of the reasons we find certain FDA and USDA recommendations to be problematic.
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