DSC_0088[17]
On Thursday, I had the extremely rare privilege of getting an inside look at the kitchen laboratory at Intellectual Ventures.  If you aren’t aware, Nathan Myhrvold (Intellectual Ventures CEO) along with chefs Chris Young and Maxime Bilet, has spent the last four years working on the book Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking.  This will be no ordinary cookbook – at 2400 pages and 5 volumes, it is unarguably the most in-depth, detailed compendium on the scientific process of cooking that has ever been written.  I’ll have many more interesting facts on the book in upcoming posts, but if you want the big picture, check out my interview with Nathan Myhrvold back in May.

The pictures and videos below are from a reception that the Modernist Cuisine team hosted as part of the International Food Blogger’s Conference.   Needless to say, this is the most sophisticated kitchen on earth, and as a food geek, I was in heaven.  Click through for more photos and video.

Lab panorama
[Click the picture to view full-size] This panorama gives you a sense of the kitchen’s layout.  All of the stations are on wheels and the whole kitchen can be rearranged as the team focuses on different projects. 

 


In this video clip, CEO and King of the Food Geeks Dr. Nathan Myhrvold discusses the decision to not dumb down the book to cover only the equipment you’re likely to have in your home kitchen.

Spice Cabinet
[Click the picture for the full-size image (so you can read the labels)]  This is the Modernist Cuisine kitchen’s idea of a spice cabinet.  Many of the products are available through the website www.chefrubber.com

DSC_0073
A centrifuge is used here to separate solids from liquids and clarify sauces and stocks.  The green bottle is finely-blended raw peas that have separated into solids and pea water.


In this video, Chef Chris Young talks about the benefits of having a kitchen without customers.  The unique design of the Modernist Cuisine kitchen allows the staff (up to 36 people at certain points in the book’s development) to focus on research and testing of new recipes and techniques. 

DSC_0009
You’re looking at the world’s only deep-fried watermelon chips.  I have no idea how they managed to deep fry watermelon, but I promise that it’s a dangerous proposition if attempted incorrectly.  The chips were light and delicious, with a recognizable hint of caramelized watermelon flavor.

DSC_0041
Those look like beautiful cherries, don’t they? They’re actually made of foie gras.  And yes, they were delicious.

DSC_0046
Chefs plate a small bite of horse mackerel sashimi with ginger and plum, proving that not all of the recipes require a particle accelerator.

DSC_0069
My favorite dish of the night’: "tongue and cheek pastrami and rye”.  A thin slice of sous vide smoked Wagyu beef cheek is served with thinly-shaved tongue and delicate rye chips.  But, what makes this dish spectacular is the beef marrow mousseline (shown being shot out of a CO2 charger).  The mousseline is like the richest, fattiest mayonnaise you could imagine, except it’s made from sous vide egg yolks and bone marrow, and it is served warm. 

DSC_0075
The frozen pistachio “cream” (ie. pistachio ice cream) alone is worth the price of the book.  As you can see from its beautiful glossy sheen, the ice cream was creamy and incredibly smooth.  What makes this dish really incredible is that the ice cream is made only from pistachios, emulsifiers and sugar.  No milk. No Cream. No eggs.  That’s right, it’s vegan!

DSC_0098
And, for a little whimsy, they made olive oil and vanilla bean gummy worms.

scottandnathan

And finally, I was thrilled to get a picture with Nathan.  See that grin on my face?  I kept it for days.

For more information on the book, check back here and also be sure to visit the official site for the project, www.ModernistCuisine.com

41Rx6bzGkNL__SS350_

Update: The book finally has a shipping date – March 14th, 2011!  Pre-order your copy today!

Share:
Reading time: 3 min

clip_image001[4]

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to talk with Nathan Myhrvold about his upcoming book, MODERNIST CUSINE: The Art & Science of Cooking (by Dr. Nathan Myhrvold & Chris Young).  But this is no ordinary cook book – it is a 4-volume tome totaling over 2200 pages on recipes and techniques you might think of as “molecular gastronomy”.  Although Nathan humbly denies the analogy, this book is poised to do for modern cooking what Escoffier did for classical cuisine a hundred years ago.

If you haven’t heard of Nathan Myhrvold, you’ll likely enjoy his Wikipedia bio, which should be cataloged somewhere between the biography of Leonardo da Vinci and The Adventures of Baron von Münchhausen, except that all of his accomplishments are verifiably true.  Nathan, a native Seattleite, is the founder and CEO of Intellectual Ventures, a company that specializes in “the business of invention”.  His resume includes a PhD in theoretical and mathematical physics and awards in wildlife photography.  His archeological paleontological expeditions have discovered more T-Rex fossils than any other group, and he has published breakthrough research on the trajectory patterns of penguin feces.  He designs nuclear reactors and laser guns that zap mosquitoes in mid-air.  And he is a major food geek.

I’ve followed the sous vide thread on eGullet and I noticed that your first post was in March of 2004.  What began your interest in sous vide cooking?

I’ve been interested in cooking forever. I have this very elaborate kitchen at home. It’s the second-most technological kitchen in Seattle – the first is the one that we built over at the lab for the cookbook. But it’s only first because we moved a bunch of my stuff from home over there!

I had bought all of the equipment for sous vide a year or so before that.  I was working with it and getting some results, but I sort of assumed there’s this huge body of knowledge out there and I just didn’t happen to connect with it.  I put that [post on the eGullet forum] out there naively thinking people would say, ‘Fine here’s a bunch of techniques and recipes.’

I was naïve! What I discovered was, nobody actually had a clue. I don’t mean that rudely, but at that point in time (2004) Roca’s book hadn’t come out. The only books I found were books about either commercial food service or a couple of books that were in French, and which seemed to have very high temperatures and were not the real deal.

…A year or so in after I had published my major tables, and I was one of the big posters in the sous vide forum, I realized how little people knew, I saw how much interest there was, I saw how much misinformation there was and so that’s when I decided I really oughtta write a cook book.

 

Share:
Reading time: 14 min