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I’m thrilled to announce that I’m returning to Modernist Cuisine as Technical Director! Although I can’t talk publicly about the projects I’ll be working on as they’re still in development, I’m ridiculously excited about what lies ahead.

It’s been almost a year since I made the bittersweet decision to leave Modernist Cuisine and finally work full-time at Sansaire, after years of intense moonlighting. I’m very proud of my work over the past year: launching the Sansaire Searing Kit and Steak Aging Sauce, expanding retail sales, and building one of the top sous vide brands from scratch.

However, over time, it became clear that Sansaire wasn’t an environment that enabled me to do my best work. Being a first-time entrepreneur, and co-founding a company with another first-time entrepreneur is tough enough. Running a hardware company without outside investment, and shipping worldwide to major retailers with seasonal demand is extra tough. That’s ok – entrepreneurs eat “tough” for breakfast. But, when co-founders don’t share an aligned vision and strategy, that stress becomes pervasive and, in this case, unfixable. It was a painful, emotional, and personal decision for me to resign from active participation in Sansaire. The Sansaire team will continue to produce amazing products, I’m sure, and I wish them all the success in the world.

Starting today, I’m back at Modernist Cuisine, working with a wildly talented group of people on a mission that I will be very proud to reveal in due time. At my previous Modernist Cuisine farewell, Nathan presented me with a cake that read, “Please Come Crawling Back.” It worked.

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Today is my last day at Modernist Cuisine. After three and a half years serving as the Director of Applied Research, it’s time for me to turn my attention to Sansaire full-time.

To call this decision “bittersweet” is a gross understatement. This has been my Dream Job, and every moment of my time at MC lived up to the fantasy I conjured when I first heard about the place. I’ve had the most incredible opportunities and the most unimaginable experiences here. I’ve worked alongside ridiculously talented people and learned from the best culinary minds in the world. And, for my part, I’ve made a contribution to books that will forever mark the period in history when the science of cooking became accessible to the world.

My first visit to the Modernist Cuisine lab was five years ago. I visited as part of an open house thrown in honor of the International Food Blogger’s Conference, and although I had spoken with Nathan on the phone once previously, it was our first time meeting in person. He was as effusive and smart as I expected, and way less stuffy. I soaked in every detail of the lab tour (with my jaw dragging on the ground), and I wore a stupid grin for a week after that.

It was crystal clear that this is where I was meant to work. Although he never said it in exactly these words, I think Nathan recognized that I was the right kind of crazy to be at Modernist Cuisine. (Note: Nathan has, on many other documented occasions, pointed out that I am plenty of other kinds of crazy.) When he created an opportunity for me to graduate from “unofficial fan club president” to full-time employee, Nathan was taking a risk that some guy from the Excel team at Microsoft with no culinary training and (I mean this pejoratively) a blog would be a good addition to his team.

Less than two months into my job, I was on a plane to Los Angeles with a steamed omelet laser-etched with Jimmy Kimmel’s face packed in my suitcase. A few weeks later, I was sitting for lunch with the Top Chef judges, designing our new website, and reviewing chapters for the upcoming Modernist Cuisine at Home release. When I opened my eyes next, I was writing code for a motorized microscope mount to shoot focus-stacked photography, designing a museum exhibit, mastering CNC-milled slip-cast ceramics, introducing Ferran Adria at Seattle Town Hall, 3D printing a mold for bean-to-bar chocolate, making liquid nitrogen ice cream on Irish TV, building a robot, laser-cutting a gingerbread house, and convincing Andrew Zimmern to drink dinosaur broth.

Through all of those experiences – and too many others to list – I had the time of my life. The Modernist Cuisine team has grown and matured, and their capabilities, creativity, and energy now are the best I’ve ever witnessed. My team specifically – Melissa, Caren and Gabbie – are individually the kind of people I may spend the rest of my career trying to find and hire; as a team, they’re an unmatched force in the industry. The editorial team is turning the largest bread book project in history into a printed reality, and with Head Chef Francisco Migoya at the helm, the culinary team is cranking out delicious, beautiful, and uniquely Modernist bread that [I believe] will hugely disrupt the world of baking. I’m very thankful to all of these people for allowing me to play alongside you.

Most of all, I want to thank Nathan. Nathan, you have given me my Dream Job, and extended to me the trust, encouragement, and resources to make this the most incredible period of my life. The lessons that I’ve learned from you – some of which I know, some of which I don’t yet realize – will resonate with me for the rest of my career. I am indebted for the opportunity to apply my brand of crazy to your vision for Modernist Cuisine, and I will remember these years (and all that sous vide pastrami) with great fondness.

All the while, during my fantastic voyage at Modernist cuisine, a team of incredible folks have been hard at work bringing Sansaire to life, growing the business, and creating new opportunities to change the way the world cooks. My nights and weekends at Sansaire won’t cut it anymore – we have big plans and hard work ahead, and it’s time for me to be with my Sansaire family full time.

So here we go…

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I had the honor of speaking at this year’s Chicago Ideas Week, as part of a session on the creative process. The entire conference was breathtaking in the scope and depth of ideas presented. I met some incredible folks, and spent the three days prior to my talk holed up in my hotel room obsessing over my slides and trying to determine how to relay my story. I don’t generally get nervous before giving a presentation or going on stage, but when that same stage was graced by George Lucas, Sean Combs and Penn and Teller the day before, it tends to raise the stakes. Anyhow, here’s my talk, and I highly encourage you to spend time watching the other talks from this year’s Chicago Ideas Week.

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