TORONTO — There are those who think cooking is an art and there are those who think it’s rooted in scientific method. So, Nathan Myhrvold has written a cookbook series entitled Modernist Cuisine, which shows the relationship between both.The cookbook cum encyclopedia has become the talk of the culinary world since hitting the stands this past spring. Priced at $625, it features 2,248 pages, set in five volumes, on high quality art paper that is waterproof. Between the pages, it provides step-by-step technique, 1,052 recipes and more than 321 visually stunning photos depicting a range of product and dishes, including recipes for the ultimate hamburger, barbecue from the American south and curries from different regions in India.
Sunday, Nov. 20, Myhrvold, who for 13 years led Microsoft as its Chief Technology Officer, gave a passionate talk on his creation, which took him and his team two years to complete.
Speaking to a crowd of foodies, restaurateurs and media, at the Isabel Bader Theatre at the University of Toronto, the engaging author, who earned two Masters and PhD before he was 23 years old, explained what prompted him to write such as prodigious work. “There’s lots of books on cooking techniques and all of these will tell you the step by step of how to do classic techniques,” and there are even some books on the scientific methods and processes such as sous vide, but there’s a lack of books that deal with both. Looking to fill that void, Myhrvold, says “It’s short-hand to show how things are done. It’s hard to cook if you don’t understand how things work.”
While many questioned why a tech guru, who worked at Microsoft, would choose a book format and not a digital version, Myhrvold told the audience, when the idea for the book took hold, the iPad wasn’t yet available. Plus, he said, the book format works best for such a huge project, from a photographic and readability perspective. More importantly, “the people who would want to have this type of information would prefer print,” he concluded.