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  1. It's always interesting to see how proper marketing alters the perceived value of a product in the eyes of people. The first Modernist Cuisine set started as a jump in the dark, it was a risky adventure for sure. Can we still say that they are doing this for the good of mankind, loosing their own money? Let's see. Last time they gave some figures for the print runs of the first MC they went over 50.000 copies, it was quite some years ago so it's safe to suppose the actual numbers are sensibly bigger. But let's be cautious and say 50k. Currently it's sold for $562.50 on Amazon USA, but at the beginning the discount was much bigger. I remember pre-ordering the first edition on Amazon Canada for $420 (Canadian dollars). Let's be cautious and say an average of $400 (US dollars). Let's say half of this goes to Amazon or other retailers, I'm cautious here too, Myhrvold is not mister nobody for Bezos, so he should get a better contract than every other small publisher. Especially because to sell $400 in books usually you need 10-20 books, so the minion working at expediting needs to locate those 10-20 books, build the box, put the books in the box, close the box, attach the order sheet. With MC the minion just needs to attach the order sheet, the box is already prepared. Let's say the publisher gets $200 per set sold. Printing costs from China should be in the $30 zone, let's be cautious and say $50 including shipping. So it makes $150 for the publisher to cover the costs and hopefully make some profit. $150 for 50k sets totals 7.5 million dollars. Is there someone who thinks 7.5 millions are not enough to cover the costs? This is a cautious estimate, which means real numbers should be much higher. I'm not blaming Myhrvold here, he took a shot in the dark, risked his money, it went really well (much above expectations) and he is making very good profits on this project. Kudos to him about this. But saying he is loosing money here for the good of people is like having rainbow glasses that do not show the real world. He made great profits with the first set and launched the other projects to keep profiting. If he was humanitarian he would have kept the same discount as the beginning for those sets, not what happened. Modernist Bread never saw those levels of discount. Then there is the perceived scientific value: "OMG someone who worked with Hawking is studying food, we are saved!". Like there are no other researchers out there working on food topics. No, sorry, there are plenty of university researchers out there studying food matters. There are plenty of articles printed in dedicated magazines. There are books out there. Like this: Handbook on Sourdough Biotechnology (eG-friendly Amazon.com link) or this: The neapolitan pizza. A scientific guide about the artisanal process (eG-friendly Amazon.com link) (first 2 that come to mind) A book that claims to be "scientific" should be totally clear about replicability. It's science basics: if you publish something then you need to give the specs so anyone else can replicate the experiments to see if the results are the same. First thing you need to do if you talk about bread is to give the specs of the flours for the various recipes. There are standards out there about this, mainly the W and P/L values, those are the 2 most important descriptors for flours around the world, it's what you find in all the other publications, it's what you need when talking with mill technicians. But on Modernist Bread you don't find this, you find suggestions for US producers. Which first of all is not that useful for the US readers, because producers can change the values of their flours without notifying anyone, or they can close the business and bye-bye. Second, it's useless for the readers outside the USA. This fact alone is enough to say that, on a scientific level, Modernist Bread is far from being scientifically correct. After release date there were some discussions here, where I pointed out some awful errors. I still remember the one about pizza in a jar, the book claimed it was "under vacuum inside the jar" (no, sorry, it isn't), so "when you open the jar it expands" (no, sorry, admitting it was under vacuum then it should compress when opening the lid, just the opposite). Reading such things would have made me cringe when I was in high school, let alone after going to university. Let alone someone who worked with Hawking. This makes me question if Myhrvold ever read the full set before it went to print. I borrowed Modernist Bread from a friend and read some pages here and there, I haven't found much scientific rigor on the pages I read, the style was akin to Discovery Channel, not to Scientific American. There's an abyss between the two. So much that I gave back the set after few pages, not much sense to keep reading, even less for buying it. I asked around to some professionals. No bread bakers found it interesting/useful, which is weird since they should be the primary target. A couple restaurant chefs said it was really interesting, I asked what they learnt from it, they gave some answers, I pointed out the scientific discrepancies, they answered "ah, ok, who knows" (they attendend cooking high school, their scientific background is poor). I asked if they used some of the recipes, answer was "no", asked why, answer was "well, if I want to make a creative bread then I want to make my own bread, not to copy some from a book". The ones who found Modernist Bread useful are mainly the advanced amateurs, not the professionals. The value is on giving them the tools to make a long list of creative breads at home. I suppose it's easy to know the demographic infos of your customers when you are friend with the tech giants. I'm not surprised that Modernist Bread had those scientific holes. There are many differences between Chris Young and Francisco Migoya. Young has a scientific degree, Migoya not. Not to bash Migoya here, he is one of the best pastry chefs in the world. He knows tons of explanations about food, since he worked hard to learn them. But it's clear he lacks the necessary scientific basics. Migoya has a much more personal style in cooking than Young, but Young outclasses Migoya on a scientific level. Differences are evident between Modernist Cuisine and Modernist Bread. Now there is Modernist Pizza. There was a big section on Modernist Bread about all kinds of pizza. That set was marketed as "here is the definitive knowledge about everything bread, including pizza". Immediately after its release they said "ok, now we are going out with Modernist Pizza". So this can mean 2 things: - the stuff in MB needed to be corrected, so it puts MB on the low quality level; - the stuff in MB was correct, so it will be repeated in MP. It's like putting a neon sign on their foreheads saying "we are not that sure about what we are doing, but we are making money so we go on". We will find tons of pages on how to improve pizza in your home oven, when, like others pointed out, the simple solution is buying the correct oven instead of MP. I wonder if they will include "pizza al formaggio" from Marche/Umbria, after all it pre-dates Neapolitan pizza. I'm curious to see what will be the next project. Modernist Patisserie would be too huge, if you want to cover all the sides of pastry then it would come out much much bigger than Modernist Cuisine. I suppose it will be something sectorial, like Modernist Chocolate. It should be definetely something pastry related. After all, if you hire one of the best pastry chefs in the world, what job do you assign him? Something on bread, where he has limited experience? Something on pizza, where he has even more limited experience? Or something pastry? If you think I'm sour for buying the first edition of Modernist Cuisine and finding that crazy amount of errors ("we failed 8954895489 temperature conversions, but understand us, you need a cyclotron to make those conversions and it's difficult to use that machine"), then you are totally right. Teo
  2. I was in this one (well, what remains of the castle) just this morning. It's the nearest to where I live, about 5 km. There was a castle even in the small village where I live, but it was destroyed by the friendly guys who owned that other castle; you know how it works, if you live 5 km away you are too different and become a mortal enemy. There were ducks too, but they were the ones haunting me. A group of wild ducks decided to take the fancy life and become the owners of the moat around that castle. It's forbidden to hunt/touch any animal living there, so they learned they can do whatever they want and no humans will harm them. If you go there without stale bread to offer to the new place owners, then they will quack at you till you are deaf. A male one was quacking vehemently at me, I told him "quack as much as you want, as soon as you put your nose out of this area you end up in my oven", he turned around, shook his tail at me, turned again and resumed quacking. I guess he learnt the local dialect. Teo
  3. Time ago, on another thread, we were discussing on the amount of "not that great" e-books that are being sold, this is a perfect example: Disney Cooking: Recipes to Make at Home: Disney Dishes Homemade (eG-friendly Amazon.com link) I have just a little little little doubt that they paid for the rights on the Disney name. With 61 pages, it must be a really informative book, no? If you open the author's page by clicking on his name, then you'll find that he is an expert on many many different subjects. Must be reliable! Teo
  4. On the amazon.com page (eG-friendly Amazon.com link) it has 8 ratings (all 5 stars) and 2 reviews (nothing useful unfortunately, the longest one is 10 words). If you are interested in chili peppers history and culture then there are these books too: Heather Arndt Anderson - "Chillies A Global History" (eG-friendly Amazon.com link) Foster + Cordell - "Chilies to Chocolate: Food the Americas Gave the World" (eG-friendly Amazon.com link) Jenny Linford - "The Seven Culinary Wonders of the World: A History of Honey, Salt, Chile, Pork, Rice, Cacao, and Tomato" (eG-friendly Amazon.com link) I haven't seen anyone of them so I can't comment. Usually the "A Global History" series is well done, those books are written by university professors / researchers. Teo
  5. Let's say that professional kitchens became a rough world because for centuries they were mostly the realm of outcasts. The average behaviour is really raw, kitchen humour is for hard stomachs, go figure the rest. There are lots of sexual jokes, not alone from male to female, but mostly from male to male. First days in a professional kitchen were a bit of a shock for me, with people touching my ass / balls (can I write this on eGullet?) and making gay jokes. Never found something similar in any other work field. That kitchen had only male workers. I adapted quickly and stopped paying attention to that stuff. Here in Italy the "tradition" is getting really upset if someone says you are gay and doubts your masculinity, it's an "honor" thing that still ends up in blood here and there. After that, it was just a matter of jokes. So much that we said something like "if 5 minutes passes without anyone reminding you are gay, then a disaster is going on in the kitchen". Sexual stuff is not the only hard thing. Simple example: one time we spent the whole day discussing how to cut one leg from one cook and make prosciutto, so on with every member of the staff and every part of the body. Not a good environment for sensible souls. For the most part it's just made in good will, meaning no one is trying to have gay sex, eating some part of your body and so on. So, personally, I just laugh about it. If I had to sue every single person who touched my ass in a kitchen then I would spend the rest of my life with attorneys. But this is from a male point of view. For a female it's totally different if someone touches you and so on. Even if it's just a joke, it's much more difficult for a female to not get upset. Unfortunately, in some cases it's much worse than a joke. Having said that, there is also the opposite side of the coin. In my experience, the people with less human respect that I met in kitchens were females. Only a small part of the group, so it would be dumb to make a generalization, but the worst were females. Calling them b17ç#3s would be an understatement. So there's not only the male to female harassment. There's also the female to male. The worst one is female to female. Teo
  6. Being pure cocoa butter means that the amount of cocoa butter per volume unit is much higher than for dark chocolate or other chocolates (so says mister obvious). Which means you get much more latent heat per volume unit developed during crystallization. Heat tends to go up, not down, so that's why the bottom of your pieces are ok. The possible solutions are the usual ones for similar cases: put them immediately in the fridge; put them in a colder room with good aeration (a fan pointing at the molds); so on. Teo
  7. The bigger circle method is slower and gives more troubles in your conditions. If you are forced to work in a hot room, then try this workflow: - roll the dough (I hope you have a sheeter), trying to make a rectangle that covers a full pan (if you have a sheeter roll it as long as it comes out, then cut at pan lengths) and place the dough rectangle on a pan with a parchment sheet; - cut the small circles using the tart rings, leaving each tart ring where it is on the pan, so place them where you want them to be when you will put the pan in the oven (meaning giving some distance from ring to ring); - raise the leftover dough (the cuttings outside the rings, if you start from a corner then it should come up in a single piece); - put the pan (pan + parchment sheet + rings with small dough circles inside) in the fridge; - compact the leftover dough, give it a rectangle shape, put it in the refrigerator; - roll again the leftover dough, cut it in small strips of the desired measures (the strips that are going inside the rings to form the sides), put them in the refrigerator; - when the strips got cold enough (not hard not soft, they need to pliable) take a pan with the rings and the bases, take enough strips (as many as the rings), place them; - put the pan in the refrigerator, repeat with another one; - when all the pans are completed and the dough is at fridge temperature (hard) then bake them. If you use this workflow then it should be pretty quick and you should be able to work one pan at a time. You will have some dead zones here and there (waiting for the dough to chill), so organize yourself to have something else to make in the meantime (something that does not give timing troubles, like scaling ingredients for other recipes). Teo
  8. Seems like you are using a dough with high butter and your room temperature is too high. If your room is at 20°C then you have plenty of time to form shells. Teo
  9. I have experience with one of their depositors and it worked really well. Once I had to contact the customer service for a small trouble and they were efficient. But a depositor is not a tempering machine, and the customer service for Italy is different than the one for the USA. Teo
  10. You wrote many times that you can use chopsticks with both your hands simultaneously, and this proves it. But how did you take the photo??? Teo
  11. Seems standard. If you are cooking it in a water bath at 144.0 F, then the time it takes the center to reach final temperature in the last stages is really long (almost asymptotic). Teo
  12. The eclairs are underbaked. The color on the collapsed side is too light. If they puffed up regularly then you were on the right track, but you had to keep baking them for longer. After puffing they need the consolidating of their structure (starch gelification), so if you stop baking them before they reach that stage then they are going to collapse. The cake seems a mix of troubles. It's really pale, too few browning. You are using a recipe with citrus juice, acids tend to prevent maillard reactions, but it's still too pale. The crumb is really dense, which means it was over mixed. I would not call it "over creamed". The creaming stage is when you beat/whip the butter with sugar, to get it light and fluffy. When you add eggs you are not creaming it anymore, it's already creamed. When you add flour you are mixing it, not creaming. It's better to add flour by hand, not in the mixer. If you run it in the mixer then it's really easy to over mix it, develop too much gluten and collapsing the air bubbles you created during the creaming stage. After you added the eggs (doing it carefully to not break the emulsion) it's better to stop the machine and add the flour (sifted few minutes before) by hand, mixing slowlyand carefully with a rubber spatula: you add about 1/3 sifted flour, mix gently until it starts dissolving but before getting a homogeneous batter, add the second 1/3/, mix again lightly not reaching the homogeneous stage, add the last third and mix until homogeneous. I would add some chemical leavener (baking soda or similar) to the recipe, just to be sure. About your oven, it's better to buy an oven thermometer and leave it inside, so you always have under your eyes the real temperature. They cost around $10, not a big expense and they help a lot (just avoiding a single ruined recipe will pay for the expense). Having said that, all ovens are different. The temperature in a single spot is just one of many features. Temperature will vary from one zone to another, there's no hope with home ovens. Temperature will fluctuate widely. Plus there are all the other factors, mainly the radiating heat. There's no general rule for using an oven, you need to adapt to each one of them. Which means that most probably you need to change temperatures and times from the recipes you want to use. Teo
  13. I'm sure there are many vegans in the rich classes too. Some of them are of the "good type" (as I call them), people who really care and believe in that way of being. Some others are of the "bad type", people who go vegan just to feel "morally superior". People with an annual salary in the 6 figures or above don't care that much if they spend $50 or $500 for a meal. It's like asking me if I care spending 15 euro for a gorgonzola+speck pizza with a bottle of beer, instead of 2 euro for a frozen margherita and a bottle of water. Just think about the guys who offered their "sustainable" yacht to Greta Thunberg to reach the New York conference, to avoid the carbon emissions of a trans-oceanic flight. I'm sure that yacht costs a bit more than a gondola. Are those guys thinking "I'll get a $20 meal from Superiority Burger and send the remaining $300 to Africans", or are they thinking "cool now we can have top class vegan"? There are loads of rich people in New York, a good chunk of them are vegan. They will be happy to spend their big money in a restaurant that satisfies their needs. And they will happily buy expensive bottles, just think about Jacques Selosse or the other big names of biodynamic wines. Besdes this, the market for the restaurants with big names is much different from the others. You don't need a strong base of regular customers to succeed, you can get your room full with once-in-whenever customers, Alinea proved this. A good portion of those customers are other people in the restaurant business who want to experience what the top class restaurants are doing. Lots of cooks spend their hard earned cash to visit top restaurants. Their favourite choices are the restaurants that make something different than others. This is the main reason of the success of elBulli, Noma and so on: word spread fast in the business when someone is doing things differently, people are curious and want to experience that. Is it a problem if it's vegan? Not at all. The "michelin gourmets" (aficionados who want to visit 3 star restaurants) have a similar way ofthinking: they give priority to the "different" stuff. Making this choice for EMP is not bold at all. They are in New York, home of tons of rich people. A city with loads of turists (ok, not in this peculiar period). When a customer is willing to spend $300 for the food, then he/she is not going to be cheap on beverage. Risks are almost null for them. They made a well calculated move. It's the perfect time for going vegan, in this period people are more concerned than ever about health troubles and sustainability. Making this move will put them as the "good guys" in the eyes of causal Joes, putting EMP as the front runners of the restaurants that care about environment. Which they are not. Causal Joe does not know about Moosewood, neither he heard about Passard in Paris or Leemann in Milan (first full vegetarian restaurant to get a michelin star, always been mostly vegan). Making this transition is giving them a huge mediatic resonance, of the positive type. We can argue how much sustainable this choice is. As was written, a $300 meal is the exact opposite of sustainable. The restaurant needs an employee for each customer. It's not sustainable to have 1 person to prepare the meal for 1 person, simple math. Besides that, how are those employees living? Do they earn enough money to afford an apartment near their job place? Highly doubt that. Or do they need to make a pretty long commute to reach their job? How much carbon emission for this? Vegetables grown for the restaurant will be really sustainable? How far from the restaurant will they be grown? Which lengths will the farmers take to grow top class produce? Simple example: almost all top class wines are made cutting aways lots of unripe grapes, leaving few on the plant, so the few ones that will mature will have more flavour. This means their field is missing a big chunk of productions. Not a sustainable choice, when lots of human beings don't have enough food to survive. When I read "The Third Plate" by Dan Barber there were many examples about this. They were growing the carrots for the final dishes in their farm, but were buying the carrots for the other uses (stocks and so on) from an organic farm in California. What's the carbon footprint of shipping carrots from California to New York? He wrote he switched to a Spanish producer of foie gras, because it was ethical and respectful of ducks and geese. What's the carbon footprint of air shipping foie gras from Spain to New York? Talking about sustainability with these choices has really no sense, it's just smoke in the eyes for marketing reasons. The positive thing we need to expect from them is to find ways to create delicious foods from stuff that would go to waste. If they find ways to make banana peels good to eat, then great. Same with lots of other stuff that ends up in bins. It already happens for ingredients that we know how to turn into delicious food (way too many people waste citrus peels, while they could candy them, and it's a really easy process). And is happening to lots of stuff we currently don't know how to use. We need to expect the top class players like EMP to find ways to transform those bits into delicious food. Claiming this research process is sustainable, well, it's just a marketing fad. Teo
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