Pick up this month’s Restaurant magazine for an exclusive insight into Modernist Cuisine, a weighty gastro-tome that lifts the lid on cutting-edge cooking techniques with recipes from the likes of Heston Blumenthal and Ferran Adria.
Created by former Microsoft chief technology officer Nathan Myhrvold, the five-volume, 2,438-page book is a culmination of three and a half years work and will be essential reading for many chefs, those cooking high-end food in particular.
The first three volumes discuss the basic principles of cooking and give the book context. There’s information on microbiology, food safety, physics and traditional cooking methods - everything from smoking to wok cooking, with some recipes to illustrate key techniques.
Moving through the books, volume four steps it up a notch with in-depth information on the creations that have come to be associated with modernist cuisine and the avant-garde: gels, thickeners, emulsions and foams.
To give an indication of the incredible level of detail, the section on spherificaton gives step by step recipes and formulas for every possible permutation of the technique, from sodium alginate preparations (the method in most kitchens) right through to obscure creations made with pectin and carrageenan.
“The world has developed a lot of really interesting culinary techniques over the past 20 years, and particularly over the past five or 10,” said Myhrvold. “But these techniques are inaccessible to most people - you have to go and work at The Fat Duck for a few years, or El Bulli, and you’d still only learn half of them.”
“Modernist Cuisine is of huge importance; it will open chefs’ eyes to new approaches and is a window into what is happening around the world in terms of cooking techniques,” said Heston Blumenthal, who wrote a foreword for the book and contributed to the editing process.
“There are a handful of books with this sort of information, including my Fat Duck cookbook and Ferran Adria’s books on El Bulli,” he continues. “But Modernist Cuisine has made it more accessible there are more pictures and step by step instructions. It has also linked all these techniques from different restaurants together for the first time.”
The May issue of Restaurant magazine is available to buy from 4 May. Subscribe to the publication to become one of the first to read its latest features, analysis and comment on the restaurant industry.