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Nerdiest Chefs, Cookbooks and Recipes

26 Apr

By Kristy

Nerdiest Chefs:

1. Heston Blumenthal (Fat Duck, UK).

A centrifuge for sauces? An auditory scientist to assist in making the perfect crunch on your fish and chips?  Only Blumenthal would do this.  As a self-taught chef, he furthers the gastronomical education of other nerd-cooks by sponsoring a Ph.D. program in the UK, and by demonstrating his research and recipe-testing procedures through his cooking shows (which to my knowledge are not available in the US – but if you can find his series on Fantastical Feasts, where he recreates historical meals, you’ll thank me).  His cookbooks are also educational, but would require an extensive scientifically-equipped kitchen to carry out the recipes.  The Fat Duck is outside London, in Bray, but the newly opened Dinner is conveniently located in London proper.

2. Ferran Adria (El Bulli, Spain)

Blumenthal and Adria are constantly vying for the Top Restaurant in the World status, but in my mind Blumenthal is #1 (plus, he was the predecessor according to Herve This).  El Bulli is taking a break now until 2014, in part to reformulate their recipes, but there is no doubt that Adria is a culinary God, and a masterful nerd-chef.  His creations extend well beyond the look, feel, and sound of a typical meal, and he constantly strives to recreate the restaurant and culinary experience.  Of note, he took part in Harvard’s science of cooking lecture series this past year, and has created a foundation to serve as a think-tank for gastronomical creativity.

3. Joel Robuchon, the French chef who may have begun the molecular gastronomy movement, and who now condemns it

4.  Grant Achatz of Alinea in Chicago

5. Wylie Dufresne of WD-50 in New York

6. David Chang, Momofuku (and others), New York

7. José Andrés, restaurant group in Washington D.C. area


Nerdiest Cookbooks:

1. From the nerdiest chefs: Fat Duck Cookbook, El Bulli Cookbook

2. Molecular Gastronomy by Herve This (see also his article in the scientific journal EMBO)

3. Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking, by Nathan Myhrvold, Chris Young, Macime Bilet (the exhaustively researched multi-book tome, better viewed at the library)

4. On Food and Cooking: the Science and Lore of the Kitchen, Harold McGee

5. The far less in-depth, Cooking For Geeks, by Jeff Potter

6. The Physiology of Taste: Or Meditations on Transcendental Gastronomy
by Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

Nerdiest Recipes

1. Anything cooked in liquid nitrogen – for flash freezing, shattering, and separating individual cells of a citrus fruit

2. Dry ice – creates ambiance

3. Foams (requires CO2)

4.  Serve the foods with a bag of aromatic air, with a landscape (edible, or inedible), or with headphones to set the auditory scene

5. Sous Vide, for low-temperature cooking of eggs, meats

6. Spherification – or use hydrocolloids from your molecular gastronomy starter kit to create some sort of polymer

7. Useful equipment: food dehydrator, centrifuge, ice cream machine, syringes, torch

The Science of Cooking – web resources:

  1. http://www.exploratorium.edu/cooking/index.html
  2. http://www.scienceofcooking.com/
  3. http://www.seas.harvard.edu/cooking
  4. http://khymos.org/
  5. http://www.moleculargastronomynetwork.com/

Get your own Molecular Gastronomy Starter Kit from Think Geek

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