Nathan Myhrvold: The Science of Cooking
"I've been interested in cooking my whole life," says Nathan Myhrvold, who attended La Varenne cooking school in France. (Other pursuits: trying to eradicate malaria, researching cosmology with Stephen Hawking and writing scholarly paleontology articles as a hobby).
Nathan Myhrvold's culinary team used state-of-the-art photography equipment to document the science of food and cooking for his six-volume cookbook, Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking. Here, some of his book's striking images.
Modernist Coffee in Slo-Mo
This high-speed video, one of many filmed in the Modernist Cuisine lab, shows creamer being poured into coffee at 2,000 frames per second.
Myhrvold's Culinary Lab
© The Cooking Lab, LLC
Myhrvold's culinary lab (part of his larger research facility in Seattle) is staffed by 16 full-time employees and stocked with everything from pots and pans to medical gear like autoclaves. An adjacent machine shop can fabricate all kinds of equipment. It may not look like a kitchen, but this is where Myhrvold cooks.
Myhrvold's Kitchen Lab Gadgets
Rotor-Stator Homogenizer: Like a hand blender on steroids, it can make extremely stable emulsions of fat and water.
Lab Sieves: These lab-grade sieves are made with micron mesh films that can separate fat from liquid and clarify stocks and juices in seconds.
Buchi Rotavapor: This device uses vacuum pressure and heat to distill liquid placed in the large glass bulb, producing things like essential oils.
Chamber-Style Sous Vide Machine: Vacuum-packed foods cook slowly in this device's precisely heated water bath.
What is the Perfect Hamburger?
Myhrvold considered every component to come up with his modernist version.© Ryan Matthew Smith / The Cooking Lab LLC
Tender hamburger bun, made from scratch and toasted in beef suet.
Hamburger glaze of suet, pureed tomato confit, beef stock and smoked salt.
Maitake mushroom, sautéed in beef suet.
Romaine lettuce infused sous vide with liquid hickory smoke.
Vacuum-compressed heirloom tomato.
Cheese slice made from aged Emmental, Comté and wheat ale.
Short rib patty ground to vertically align the grain.
Cremini mushroom ketchup with honey, horseradish, fish sauce, ginger and allspice.