Toasting the Stars

Nathan Myhrvold, author of Modernist Cuisine, recently shared some neat tricks for adding barrel-aged flavor to cocktails on Nathan says:

“When you age a liquid in a wood barrel, whether it’s wine or it’s whisky, you wind up leeching some flavor compounds out of the wood, and those wood flavor compounds can be amazing. Until recently, those things have been the purview of the winemaker or the whisky maker, but there’s no reason you can’t do those extractions as a mixologist or cocktail chef or whatever you want to call it.”

Just last week, Star Chefs announced that Modernist Cuisine coauthor Chris Young will make another appearance at the Star Chefs Congress (October 2-4, 2011, at the Park Avenue Armory in New York City) this year. Chris will make his main-stage presentation on the afternoon of October 3. His talk will cover several techniques from Modernist Cuisine.

Ryan Matthew Smith to Teach at SAM

Join Ryan Matthew Smith, lead photographer for Modernist Cuisine, for a hands-on food photography workshop on Sept. 18 at TASTE restaurant at the Seattle Art Museum in downtown Seattle. Ryan will explain the lighting techniques used during the making of Modernist Cuisine, as well as advanced Photoshop editing steps to make your images pop.


    An introduction to Ryan’s food photography

  • Demos of strobe light techniques used in Modernist Cuisine
  • Lunch provided by TASTE restaurant
  • Hands-on action shooting workshop. Attendees will learn to shoot food in motion!
  • Photoshop Lesson 1: Curves–The nearly everything tool
  • Photoshop Lesson 2: Layer masking techniques–How to localize your adjustments
  • Photoshop Lesson 3: Making a single image from multiple captures
  • Q&A session
  • Student portfolio critique (optional)

A digital SLR camera and previous Photoshop experience is recommended but not required. If you have a DSLR, please bring it for the hands-on shooting workshop. If not, a loaner camera will be available. You will have the opportunity to work with high-end Broncolor lighting equipment and also experiment with budget-friendly AlienBees strobes. But the lessons you’ll learn will enhance your food photography skills regardless of the equipment you use at home. Your ticket price includes a lunch provided by TASTE restaurant. Confirmed attendees will be allowed to upload samples of previous work into a Flickr pool for the student portfolio critique at the end of the workshop.

Sunday, September 18
10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
TASTE restaurant at SAM
1300 First Avenue
Seattle, WA 98101
United States

Space is limited to 12 students, so order your ticket soon!

Ticket site: Brown Paper Bag Tickets

How Many Stars Would You Give Us?

{a href=”” title=”Salty Seattle’s Our striped mushroom omelet.” target=”_blank”}Our striped mushroom omelet. Photo courtesy of Salty Seattle.{/a}

Restaurants, and therefore chefs, are usually rated in stars. MC is actually no different. If you have had the chance to plunge into all six volumes, please come tell us on or, and give us your rating.

This Just In: Modernist Cuisine is fully in stock!

Five months and eight days after its release, Modernist Cuisine is fully in stock at Barnes & Noble and Amazon (as well as a growing number of independent bookstores and libraries–find one near you with our store locator).

Back orders, the bulk of the reason booksellers have been out of stock so long, have finally been fulfilled. We are still sending more and more copies from the printer in China each week, and we anticipate that we will continue seeing stores fully stocked through the holidays.

Both and are currently selling the book for less than $500. For the last several weeks, both retailers had listed it at the full price of $625. Many independent bookstores that have the book in stock are selling in the $525 price range.

See Maxime at the Epicurean Classic in Traverse City

Modernist Cuisine coauthor Maxime Bilet will be making an appearance at this year’s Epicurean Classic in Traverse City, Michigan. As is EC’s tradition, Maxime will be cooking up a storm at La Becasse on the evening of Friday, September 9. (For reservations, call 231.334.3944.) Max will also give a talk the following day on Modernist techniques for home cooking.

The Epicurean Classic runs September 8-11, 2011. For tickets, directions, and a complete schedule, visit

Sous Vide Rare Beef Jus: An In-Depth Look

If you have registered with and opted to receive recipes by email, this is already old news to you, but for everyone else, we’d like to announce the latest addition to our recipe library. We’ve taken an in-depth look at the recipe for Sous Vide Rare Beef Jus, including tips, plating ideas, and personal accounts from the Kitchen Team. There’s even a video with a centrifugal twist on the recipe from the book. Give it a try, and let us know how it turns out by posting in the Cooks Forum.

Got Questions? Get Answers in the Cooks Forum

Got a question about vacuum sealers? Wondering about the best ways to brine? Have an insider tip on the best place to find citric acid? Found a way to improve on the Texas Barbecue Sauce recipe in Modernist Cuisine?

If you’d like to get answers to your questions about cooking with Modernist Cusine–or to share what you’ve learned and cooked from the book–please join us in the new Cooks Forum, which opens today on

The forum can be freely browsed and searched by all. To post a question or comment on the forum, you must first register with (no purchase necessary!) and log in.

The culinary team here will be answering your trickiest questions during the week, and will be giving special attention to queries from members who are confirmed MC owners. And you can also draw, 24/7, on the expertise of your fellow readers. Hundreds have signed up in just the past couple weeks, so our community is growing fast.

Nathan’s Naan

On Monday evening, a couple dozen of us in the Seattle area who worked on Modernist Cuisine went out to dinner at Naan-n-Curry in Renton, Washington. It was a reunion of sorts, and great to see everyone who labored over the book.

The restaurant’s owner, Majid Janjua, invited Nathan back to the kitchen to try his hand at making the eponymous naan in a tan door. As always, Nathan was excited by the challenge, and ready to jump into action.

Majid’s son, Shan, demonstrated how to knead the dough and how to use the tan door. Nathan was so thrilled with the process that he said he wants to get a tan door for The Cooking Lab. Two, actually: one to use, and another to cut in half!

A busy restaurant kitchen waits for no man. When some shouted, “Naan for table four!” Nathan smoothly kept kneading his naan with his left hand and grabbed up a piping hot basket of naan with his right, giving it to me through the kitchen window for the server. “Naan for table four!” he echoed, barely even glancing up.

Even though I’ve worked with Nathan for three years, his tenacity continues to surprise me. When the naan was done, he reached right into the tan door without the slightest flinch to get it. Shan warned him that his arm hair would get singed, but something like that would never deter Nathan.

“It reminded me of taking pictures of volcanoes in Hawai’i,” Nathan said. “The tan door is kind of like a skylight, which is a hole in the cooled crust through which you can see a river of molten lava flowing underneath. You can go at it from the side, but you wouldn’t want to look directly down into it from right above.”

The naan was delicious, and the evening was a successful celebration of everyone’s great effort in making Modernist Cuisine. It was only appropriate that cooking and good food were at the heart of it all.

Nathan on the Photography of Modernist Cuisine

Nathan Myhrvold may be a scientist, but even he describes the cutaway photos found in Modernist Cuisine as magical. Take a look at some of the behind-the-scenes action as Nathan describes the thousandth of a second in which the photos were taken, and what ensued after that second had passed!

If you would prefer to watch the video on YouTube, you can view it here.

Find a Copy of Modernist Cuisine Near You

Modernist Cuisine is one of those extraordinary books that is hard to truly appreciate until you have actually laid your hands on a copy. Until recently, that’s been pretty hard to do.

Now we invite you to use our new MC Locator feature to find a physical copy of the book at a bookstore or library near you. Just type in your zip code: a set of the six-volume work is probably closer than you’d think.

If you don’t see a location near you, check back in a month or two. More stores and libraries are receiving their copies every week, and we’ll be updating the list periodically.