Nathan Myhrvold believes that cooking is not just an art, but a science too – meet the man who cooks nitrogen-dipped burgers and ultrasonic French fries.
Author of 2,400-page, 625-dollar self-published book, ‘Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking’, Myhrvold, a former technology chief for Microsoft, combines science and his culinary skills to create food.
He treats French fries with starch and places them in an ultrasonic bath.
And dips the hamburger meat in liquid nitrogen to crunch up the exterior and keep the center a tender medium rare.
“Why not use nitrogen — it”s 78 percent of the air around us?” said Myhrvold.
“It”s not unsafe in any way. It”s cheap, about the same amount as Evian water. ”
After spending 14 years at Microsoft, he founded Intellectual Ventures, a small company that supports his culinary lab and inventions, like cures for malaria and nuclear power.
“I have always been in to food. When I was 9 years old I announced to my mother I was cooking Thanksgiving dinner and I went to the library and got a cookbook. I thought I could do a lot better job. Food has interested me my whole life,” he says.
Myhrvold”s first foray into the professional food business was in 1991, when he was on the “team of the year” at the Memphis World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest. Later, he trained in haute cuisine in France.
Some are wary of his new techniques, though.
“I”m wary of intense manipulation of foods when it involves chemicals, expensive tools and gadgets that only .002 percent of the population has access to,” said Becky Selengut, a Seattle chef who blogs for Chef Reinvented, who tasted pea soup prepared in a centrifuge at a tasting hosted by Myhrvold.
Still, after trying the pea soup, “my mind cracked open,” she confessed.
“It was one of the best pea soups I”d ever had.”
“It is often claimed, for example, that you must cook beef, veal, or lamb to an internal cooking temperature of 63 deg C / 145 deg F to prevent food-borne illness,” writes Myhrvold on his blog.
“This statement is totally false. The FDA requires NO specific internal temperature for steak. Put simply, even the FDA balks at the idea of telling millions of meat-eating Americans that they cannot have their steaks pink and juicy.”
His new book, Myhrvold insists, is for every foodie.
“The book contains a lot of techniques that it would be really difficult to learn any other way. You would have to work at a dozen different restaurants around the world,” he says.
“We believe you can do a much better job of cooking when you understand science,” said Myhrvold.
“In some cases in the book, the science is there to satisfy curiosity. The main goal is to give insights useful in cooking.
“People who love books say this is really an extraordinary object.”
In fact, his researchers joke that the cookbook is not only a coffee table book, “but the table as well,” he said. (ANI)