It’s big (6 volumes, 2,438 pages, ~43 lbs, ~4 lbs of ink), it’s comprehensive, it has absolutely stunning photography, it has recipes for the home cook (with a few new pieces of equipment), and I OWN IT. No, I haven’t read Modernist Cuisine from cover to cover yet, but I have looked at the pictures. I mean amazing photographs. I mean works of art. This set of books takes food photography to the next level using techniques that include cut-away images where pots, a wok, a pressure cooker and even a Weber grill are cut in half so that you can see a cross section of the food while it’s cooking. Not to mention the advanced printing technique and high quality paper that provides incredible quality and depth to each shot, making it hard to tear your eyes from the page.
Photography aside, at its core, Modernist Cuisine is a cookbook, and a detailed one at that. From preparation techniques to the how and why of different cooking methods and of course, recipes, these books are meant to be used and not solely looked at. It may debunk some commonly held beliefs (a steak will cook faster and not have to rest as long if you flip it every 15 seconds instead of just once), but it has the science to prove it.
The authors, Dr. Nathan Mhyrvold, Chris Young and Maxime Bilet, with a team of over 20 chefs, have created an unparalleled resource that will make us think about food in new ways for years to come. Of course there are chefs already using these “modernist” techniques, but Modernist Cuisine makes them accessible to the home cook and helps everyone understand fundamental food science.
Is a set of baking and pastry books next? We can only sit down with a cup of coffee, crack open volume one and keep our fingers crossed (to make your best cup of Joe see vol 4, chapter 18).