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Modernist Cuisine: the art & science...

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Myhrvold, Nathan & Young, Chris & Bilet, Maxime. Modernist Cuisine the art & science of cooking. The Cooking Lab: Bellevue, WA USA 2010. 4to lg HC 5 vols in Slipcase + plasticised kitchen manual. 2400pp (23kg) Indent

A revolution is underway in the art of cooking. Just as French Impressionists upended centuries of tradition, modernist cuisine has in recent years blown through the boundaries of the culinary arts. Borrowing techniques from the laboratory, pioneering chefs at world renowned restaurants such as elBulli, The Fat Duck, Alinea, and wd~50 have incorporated a deeper understanding of science and advances in cooking technology into their culinary art.

In Modernist Cuisine: the Art and Science of Cooking, Nathan Myhrvold, Chris Young, and Maxime Bilet, scientists, inventors, and accomplished cooks in their own right, have created a six-volume 2,400-page set that reveals science-inspired techniques for preparing food that ranges from the other-worldly to the sublime.

The authors, and their 20-person team at The Cooking Lab, have achieved astounding new flavors and textures by using tools such as water baths, homogenizers, centrifuges, and ingredients such as hydrocolloids, emulsifiers, and enzymes. Modernist Cuisine is a work destined to reinvent cooking.

How do you make an omelet light and tender on the outside, but rich and creamy inside? Or French fries with a light and fluffy interior and a delicate, crisp crust that doesn't go soggy? Imagine being able to encase a mussel in a gelled sphere of its own sweet and briny juice. Or to create a silky-smooth pistachio cream made from nothing more than the nuts themselves. Modernist Cuisine offers step-by-step, illustrated instructions, as well as clear explanations of how these techniques work. Through thousands of original photographs and diagrams, the lavishly illustrated books make the science and technology of the culinary arts clear and engaging. Stunning new photographic techniques take the reader inside the food to see cooking in action all the way from microscopic meat fibers to an entire Weber grill in cross-section. You will view cooking, and eating, in a whole new light.

A sampling of what you'll discover:

  • Why plunging food in ice water doesn't stop the cooking process;
  • When boiling cooks faster than steaming;
  • Why raising the grill doesn't lower the heat;
  • How low cost pots and pans can perform better than expensive ones;
  • Why baking is mostly a drying process;
  • Why deep-fried food tastes best and browns better when the oil is older;
  • How modern cooking techniques can achieve ideal results without the perfect timing or good luck that traditional methods demand.

Many invaluable features include:

  • Insights into the surprising science behind traditional food preparation methods such as grilling, smoking, and stir-frying;
  • The most comprehensive guide yet published on cooking sous vide, including the best options for water baths, packaging materials, and sealing equipment; cooking strategies; and troubleshooting tips;
  • More than 250 pages on meat and seafood and 144 pages on fruits, vegetables, and grains, including dozens of parametric recipes and step-by-step techniques;
  • Extensive chapters explaining how to achieve amazing results by using modern thickeners, gels, emulsions, and foams, including example recipes and many formulas;
  • Some 300 pages of new recipes for plated dishes suitable for service at top-tier restaurants, plus recipes adapted from master chefs including Grant Achatz, Ferran Adria, Heston Blumenthal, David Chang, Wylie Dufresne, David Kinch, and many others.

From the professional chef to the home cook, Modernist Cuisine is an indispensable guide for anyone who is passionate about the art and science of cooking.



1. Why is Modernist Cuisine so expensive?
The six volume set includes 2,400 pages, published on high-quality art paper (waterproof in the case of the Kitchen Manual) using advanced stochastic printing technology and including a sturdy 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 good value for the price; we hope that you will agree.
2. Can a home chef actually make the dishes in the book?
The majority of the recipes in Modernist Cuisine 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 (the book covers what to look for when buying such gear). We decided early on, however, that we would not 'dumb down' those recipes that illustrate the fascinating culinary applications of advanced ingredients, such as liquid nitrogen, and 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 top professional chef.
3. Are volumes available separately?
We wrote Modernist Cuisine so that it is self-consistent and functions as a whole. Nearly every page includes references to material in other volumes. We have no plans to sell volumes separately.
4. Will Modernist Cuisine be available in languages other than English?
Yes! We are actively working with publishers to get the book translated into several major European and Asian languages. We designed the layout from the start so that we can reuse the photos and tables. Nevertheless, translating a work of this size (more than 650,000 words!) is a big task, and we expect it will take some time to complete.
5. Will there be an eBook edition?
Eventually, there may be, but we have no current plans to offer an electronic version of Modernist Cuisine. We began this project before the market of eBooks developed. At the time we started designing Modernist Cuisine book, the Kindle had not even shipped yet. Kindle is a wonderful eBook platform (we love ours!), but it is not the best medium for a book such as this that offers so many large, color pictures. Our use of dramatic photography is a large part of how Modernist Cuisine makes the art and science of cooking accessible. Although the Apple iPad has a color display, its screen size is still very limited, and by the time it shipped, we had designed a thousand pages for print. We decided that a large format, high quality printed book is still the best platform today for delivering this kind of content; particularly our photographs and illustrated step-by-step procedures, to the majority of the people who will want to use it. Eventually we would like to spend the time and resources to make an eBook edition that offers new and interactive features, but that is a lot of work and is probably a couple years away.
6. Will you produce a less expensive edition, as Bloomsbury did with The Big Fat Duck Cookbook?
We have no plans to do that right now, or within the next couple years, but we would not rule it out.
7. Is Modernist Cuisine only about exotic or unusually challenging food like you find at elBulli or The Fat Duck?
We cover a broad range of cuisine, including many familiar kinds of food. In the book you'll find recipes for the ultimate hamburger, barbecue from the American South, curries from different regions in India, and many other traditional dishes and cuisines. We do include recipes and techniques that are from (or in the style of) restaurants like elBulli, The Fat Duck, wd~50, Alinea and others that are pushing the boundaries of cuisine. But people who ascribe to a very traditional food aesthetic should find plenty in Modernist Cuisine to engage their interests.

[Modernist Cuisine] will change the way we understand the kitchen.
Ferran Adrià
The most important book in the culinary arts since Escoffier.
Tim Zagat
A fascinating overview of the techniques of modern gastronomy.
Heston Blumenthal
Amazing! Unparalleled in its breadth and depth.
Wylie Dufresne
The cookbook to end all cookbooks.
David Chang
Modernist Cuisine is a landmark contribution to the craft of cooking and our understanding of its underlying principles. Its scale, detail, and eye-opening graphics are unmatched by any other book on the subject. [Modernist Cuisine] will be an invaluable resource for anyone with a serious interest in cooking techniques, whether the professional innovations of the last few decades or the long traditions on which they build.
Harold McGee
A breathtaking new benchmark in understanding cooking, Modernist Cuisine is destined to be as important a work for the 21st century as Escoffier's Ma Cuisine was for the 20th century.
David Kinch

ISBN: 9780982761007
Author: Myhrvold, Nathan & Young, Chris & Bilet, Maxime
Format: New Hardcover
Publisher: The Cooking Lab: Washington DC, USA 2010

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Added Saturday 30 October, 2010.
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