Hands up if you’re a big nerd about cooking. How did you get interested in food science? What are your favorite cookbooks or shows? Y’all read Harold McGee yet or what?
I’d kill for a job at Alinea, or probably even just for a set of the Modernist Cuisine cookbooks, those things are beautiful. A housemate just gave me a vacuum sealer so now I have a reason to get an immersion circulator soon, can’t wait to cook everything sous vide.
I hadn’t heard of Harold McGee before, his work seems like a really neat academic perspective on the process of cooking; his post on caramelization reminds me of some of the deep-dives on recipes/techniques that Serious Eats does. I really enjoy thoughtful and critical approaches like this to things that are so often taken at face value in the kitchen, it helps to construct a theoretical framework for cooking and dispels a lot of mythologized garbage with empirical evidence.
Michael Ruhlman’s ‘Ratio’ is probably my favorite book (Flavor Bible is #2), when you can break down an discrete category of food into it’s essential and most minimal components, you’re starting from a base recipe that allows you to exert creative will on a dish; the two books together can give someone with a decent amount of home cooking experience the ability to produce some really out-there things.
I’m still on the Alton Brown ride or die train. Dude was there to pick things up for Young Bombastique when Bill Nye left off. It didn’t matter I was learning cooking, because it was still enjoyable to watch. Still looking forward to his new Not-Good Eats, wherever it ends up. Otherwise, I like Kenji Alt-Lopez, bought his book. It’s very good.
I think it was the No Reservations episode on El Bulli that sold me on nerd cuisine. There’s just something about Ferran Adria talking about food as an art form that I find absolutely fascinating.
I don’t know what my progression was exactly, but from there it involved:
- the entire run of Good Eats
- a lot of the early Chef Steps videos on YouTube (before they changed their model to center around Joule)
- Mind of a Chef (especially the David Chang and Sean Brock seasons)
- America’s Test Kitchen
- The Momofuku and Momofuku Milk Bar books
- Also Scott Rao’s barista handbooks, which are very much the nerd’s guides to coffee
I also own Harold McGee’s book, but I still haven’t read it
McGee and modernist cuisine are must reads and great references. Both are better in digital form for searchability.
I’m definitely with ya’ll on the Alton Brown train, Good Eats definitely shoved a lot of fundamental knowledge into me in a very digestible format.
What kind of work/food stuff do you do that gets you on that podcast? Looks like my kind of alternate reality Car Talk.
I cook for a living, thought I don’t perform any feats of molecular gastronomy or anything like that. So if you have questions about cooking, I can answer those. Science, not really my field. My favorite cookbook is the internet. God bless the internet.
Glad to see we’ve got several kitchen chemists in the house.
I got into food science through home brewing beer. I eventually quit drinking, but a lot of the technique transfers over. I watched the mayonnaise episode of Good Eats where Shirley Corriher explains how emulsifiers work and was hooked.
I’m not a huge fan of molecular gastronomy in the home kitchen, so hearing donbert describe Modernist Cuisine as a must read has me scratching my head. But food is art, right? All about self expression.
My favorite cookbooks are Momofuku by David Chang, How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman, and Into the Vietnamese Kitchen by Andrea Nguyen. I’m picking up The Food Lab next, looking forward to it.
I like the more recent ChefSteps episodes and Serious Eats on YouTube. And I adored Lucky Peach magazine, RIP.
Modernist Cuisine 1-4 are more textbook than cookbook. If you’re interested in the science of cooking then it’s definitely a must read. Only volume 5 is about Modernist recipes. The only recipe from Modernist Cuisine that I use at home are their pressure cooker stocks. Check out the table of contents on Amazon.
As someone who has both a hard copy and PDFs, I use the PDFs a lot more often than the actual books. The books are beautiful but unless you’re a professional that can expense them like I did for work or just have $500 burning a hole in your pocket I wouldn’t suggest anyone buy them. If you’re having trouble finding PDFs send me a DM.