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"Modernist Cuisine" by Myhrvold, Young & Bilet (Part 1)

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Since we can finally get a peek at what NathanM and his team have been working on thanks to Docsconz and the NYT:

NYT:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/17/science/17prof.html

Docsconz blog

http://docsconz.typepad.com/docsconz_the_blog/2009/11/starchefs-2009-day-one-chris-young-nathan-myhrvold-culinary-engineers.html

The least we could do is have a thread here about it ;)

So enough with the hints about it being published "next year" every year in the Sous Vide thread.

Let's just talk about how this is going to be "kind of a big deal"

A few of my questions: Will it be a single volume or perhaps serialized? Will it change the way we and the US government look at food safety? What percentage of the book will make it to the pro kitchen/home kitchen, and what percentage will just be too pie in the sky for either? Will it change the way we cook? Any chance we can see an early TOC for the book? How about a review copy ;) I'm sure it will take me some time to digest it all...and I'm perfectly willing to weigh in upon its eventual publication. Barring that, NathanM, mind sharing a few more sneak peeks?

Thanks!

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They made it pretty plain at the Starchefs Congress that this was going to be a big mother of a book. Nathan even said, that should it fall on one's foot, one will likely need to "go to the hospital." They are shooting to be pretty comprehensive within 1500 pages. The impression that I had is that the content of the book is largely set, though they may be honing it some more. One of the more important chapters is likely to be the one on food safety. Hopefully, it will give good, practical advice rather than CYA advice. I suspect that it will be backed by excellent science. This is a book to watch for!


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Agreed Doc, I'm counting on it being a game changer...and hope that it does not just become "neat tricks to wow and impress your guests."

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I was lucky enough to attend a talk nathanm gave at the University of Washington on his new cookbook and, by all appearances, it's going to be amazing. We got to sample his pistachio ice cream afterwards (made by emulsifying pistachio oil into a cream so there's no dairy in the ice cream) and was wowed by the technique but kind of underwhelmed with the result. Oh well.


PS: I am a guy.

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Lots of techniques here that are new to me.

What is a water vapor oven, as mentioned in this diagram? Google didn't turn up anything except for a patent application.

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Lots of techniques here that are new to me.

What is a water vapor oven, as mentioned in this diagram? Google didn't turn up anything except for a patent application.

It's a tool for accurate sous vide cooking. It's also known as a convection steam oven.


PS: I am a guy.

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I was lucky enough to attend a talk nathanm gave at the University of Washington on his new cookbook and, by all appearances, it's going to be amazing. We got to sample his pistachio ice cream afterwards (made by emulsifying pistachio oil into a cream so there's no dairy in the ice cream) and was wowed by the technique but kind of underwhelmed with the result. Oh well.

Slightly off topic, but egullet member Nathan Kurz (Scream Sorbet) makes amazing nut sorbets (pistachio included). If you have tasted his as well, I'd be interested to see how it compares to the oil "cream" version.

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Rereading some notes from the Starchefs talk, expect the price to be around the same as what the elBulli or The Fat Duck books cost. They are expecting it to be out around or before Christmas 2010.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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That's a lot of book for a little price.

NathanM & Ideas in Food both publishing, 2010 is already shaping up. :rolleyes:


“Do you not find that bacon, sausage, egg, chips, black pudding, beans, mushrooms, tomatoes, fried bread and a cup of tea; is a meal in itself really?” Hovis Presley.

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@nathanm was very kind to share with me some of his thoughts on sous vide cooking, modernist cuisine, and the upcoming book (now 2200+ pages in 4 volumes; expected release date December 2010). If you're interested, you can read the interview here.


SCOTT HEIMENDINGER
Co-Founder, CMO

Sansaire

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Amazon is listing NathanM's book at $625 for preorder. is this going to be the price now? this is definitely top of my list on books to buy, but i dont know if i can budget this much for it. given the extensive nature of the book i thought the number that was discussed in this thread of $300 or so was high but doable. $625 knocks it out of the range of most of the home market i would think.

NathanM i hope this is just the marker price that amazon have put in, but can you give us some feedback on what to expect?

thanks

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Amazon is listing NathanM's book at $625 for preorder. is this going to be the price now? this is definitely top of my list on books to buy, but i dont know if i can budget this much for it. given the extensive nature of the book i thought the number that was discussed in this thread of $300 or so was high but doable. $625 knocks it out of the range of most of the home market i would think.

NathanM i hope this is just the marker price that amazon have put in, but can you give us some feedback on what to expect?

thanks

The list price of the book will be $625, because the total project has grown to about 2300 pages in 5 volumes. The list price is not the same as the street price, because there usually is some discounting. My guess is that street price will be about $500, but that is just a guess - the discounted price depends on the retailers (Amazon and others) and it is not up to me.

Pre-orders on Amazon will get the benefit of the discounted price charged at the time of release. We are working for a release date in late 2010.

The book will be expensive, no doubt about it. People have an expectation that books should be cheap, and most cookbooks are very cheap. As a result, most cookbooks make lots of compromises to hit a price point. We made fewer compromises - for this many pages, with tons of color photos, and huge page size, and nice weight paper .... well, it is hard to make it really cheap.

So it a bit like dinner at a top restaurant - Per Se, or L'Arpege or similar restaurants have a top quality product, with a price to match. The book will cost less than dinner for two at Per Se (before wine, tax, tip).

Eventually we will look at doing a cost reduced version, but the focus right now is getting the full edition finished.


Nathan

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Amazon is listing NathanM's book at $625 for preorder. is this going to be the price now? this is definitely top of my list on books to buy, but i dont know if i can budget this much for it. given the extensive nature of the book i thought the number that was discussed in this thread of $300 or so was high but doable. $625 knocks it out of the range of most of the home market i would think.

NathanM i hope this is just the marker price that amazon have put in, but can you give us some feedback on what to expect?

thanks

The list price of the book will be $625, because the total project has grown to about 2300 pages in 5 volumes. The list price is not the same as the street price, because there usually is some discounting. My guess is that street price will be about $500, but that is just a guess - the discounted price depends on the retailers (Amazon and others) and it is not up to me.

Pre-orders on Amazon will get the benefit of the discounted price charged at the time of release. We are working for a release date in late 2010.

The book will be expensive, no doubt about it. People have an expectation that books should be cheap, and most cookbooks are very cheap. As a result, most cookbooks make lots of compromises to hit a price point. We made fewer compromises - for this many pages, with tons of color photos, and huge page size, and nice weight paper .... well, it is hard to make it really cheap.

So it a bit like dinner at a top restaurant - Per Se, or L'Arpege or similar restaurants have a top quality product, with a price to match. The book will cost less than dinner for two at Per Se (before wine, tax, tip).

Eventually we will look at doing a cost reduced version, but the focus right now is getting the full edition finished.

With five heavy volumes, the postage to Australia will add significantly to the price of the books.

Are you thinking of an e-book version?


Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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I'd buy it at $250 as an iBooks epub for sure. I might buy it at $500, but not sure I can afford it (it isn't an matter of value). Note I wouldn't buy it as a Kindle book, simply because the Kindle app on iPad (and the Kindle device I think) doesn't have text search, which would be very valuable in a book of this size, even with a good index.

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With five heavy volumes, the postage to Australia will add significantly to the price of the books.

Are you thinking of an e-book version?

We will try to get distribution in Australia so that the books go by boat, then are only shipped within the country by post. This is not arranged yet.

Eventually we will have e-book but right now getting it to exist at all is the challenge!


Nathan

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Also, e-book platforms are evolving quickly. Kindle does not allow pictures. iPad does but it only just came out, and the software platform issues are evolving quickly (i.e. controversy about use of Adobe Flash). So realistically it will take a while to get an e-book format.

Although I love the digital world, the best way to deliver this amount of content, with large high quality photos, is paper...


Edited by nathanm (log)

Nathan

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Nathan,

I am definitely in the market for the book, is there a website with previews anywhere

or is there going to be?

I've seen some video of your lair/kitchen what's the most exotic piece of equipment used?


“Do you not find that bacon, sausage, egg, chips, black pudding, beans, mushrooms, tomatoes, fried bread and a cup of tea; is a meal in itself really?” Hovis Presley.

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Nathan,

I am definitely in the market for the book, is there a website with previews anywhere

or is there going to be?

I've seen some video of your lair/kitchen what's the most exotic piece of equipment used?

There is no website yet, but there will be one up by autumn. We have a lot of exotic equipment - freeze dryers, spray dryers, autoclaves....


Nathan

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I just discovered this thread, or otherwise I would have responded sooner.

The book is marching along, and we expect to ship it in late 2010. The size has grown to about 2300 pages in 5 volumes.

Consequently the price has increased also. The list price has been set at $625. The actual street price will depend on discounting and will evolve once the book comes on the market. If the discount is similar to other books in this price range then it likely will be available from somebody for about $500.

The name is "Modernist Cusiine, The Art and Science of Cooking".


Nathan

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I have pre-ordered "Modernist Cuisine" from amazon.com as its not on the amazon.co.uk site? I really hope that they deliver to Ireland. Would be a great Christmas present to myself!! What is the expected release date, or have details been finalized yet?


Edited by umami5 (log)

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Why use paper at all? You could earn as much or more for your intellectual property if you published it an an eBook, the price would be $325, and we could read it on the crapper without stopping the circulation in our knees.

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I will assume this is directed at me, and my book - apologies if it isn't.

eBooks are great for some things (I love my Kindle), but at this stage of development the best way to communicate a mixture of pictures and text is still a book. Kindle has no photos, and cookbookos that I have bought on Kindle are not very successful in terms of random access and reference.

iPad is obviously much better for display aspects, but iPad is brand new - we had to commit to our launch platform like a year ago and we decided then that a physical book was the best way to go. We plan in the future to address tablets (whether iPad or other) but doing this right takes a lot of work. Like probably a year's worth of work if we want to use the slick features, add some videos and animations etc., do some testing. It's basically like software development. I am sure that we will do this at some point, but not in the short term.

I think it would be unrealistic to think we could have a big impact with the audience of food lovers and chefs that we want to reach if we went eBook only. So we need both versions, and it is pretty easy to come to the conclusion that physical books are higher priority and should be done first.

Also, I will note that Amazon has discounted the book rather substantially to $421.87, which frankly is cheaper than I thought they would go. I don't know if that they will hold that indefinitely, or not.


Nathan

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Off topic but Amazon normally discounts 34% often even briefly hitting 40% before release. I don't know how they do it but I found other online places that consistently beat Amazons prices on books.

Frankly I doubt I will ever see this, maybe if I make it up to specialty stores like Kitchen Arts and Letters.

JK

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      Unfortunately, with every pan I tried, the temperature settings were wildly inaccurate for measuring the temperature of the food. I heated 2 liters of peanut oil in a variety of pots, disk-base, enameled cast iron enameled steel, and copper. I thought it might be useful to see how close to 350F and 375F the settings were for deep frying. The oil in a Le Creuset 5.5Q Dutch oven set to 350F never made it past 285F, and it took 40:00 to get there. I kept bumping up the setting until I found that the setting for 420F will hold the oil at 346F. A disk-based pot didn’t hit 365F until the temperature setting was boosted to 400F. The only pan which came remotely close to being true to the settings was a 2mm silvered copper oven, which heated its oil to 327F when the Panasonic was set for 350F, and 380F when set for 410F.
       
      The temperature function was a lot closer to true when simply preheating an empty pan. With a setting of 350F, all the shiny stainless pans heated to just a few degrees higher (about 353-357F) and held there. This is useful for judging the Leidenfrost Point (which is the heat at which you can oil your SS and have it cook relatively nonstick) and potentially for “seasoning” carbon steel, SS and aluminum, but not much else, since it doesn’t translate to actual food temperature. There’s also the issue of the temperature settings *starting* at 285F, so holding a lower temperature for, e.g., tempering chocolate or a sous vide bath, or even a simmer would be by-guess-by-golly just like any other hob—your only resort is lots of experience with lower *power* settings.
       
      With heat-tarnished copper, a 350F setting resulted in a wide swinging between 353F and 365F, which I attribute to the copper shedding heat far faster than the other constructions, once the circuit stops the power at temperature. Then, when the circuit cycles the power back on, the copper is so responsive that it quickly overshoots the setting. Aluminum, on the other hand, *undershot*, the 350F setting, registering a cycle of 332-340F.

      I conclude that the IR sensor is set for some particular emissivity, probably for that of stainless steel. If true, the Panasonic, even though it automatically switches frequencies, does not compensate for the different emissivities of copper and aluminum. And even if Panasonic added dedicated aluminum and copper IR sensors, there is enough difference between dirty and polished that the added cost would be wasted. Bottom line here: the temperature setting mode is of extremely low utility, and should not be trusted.
       
      B. Power Mode – Pan Material Comparisons
       
      Given the differences in power setting granularity and maximum power between the two frequencies, it is difficult to assess what X watts into the pot means in, say, a copper-versus-clad or –disk showdown. What is clear, however, is that Setting X under disk and clad seems “hotter” than the same setting under copper and aluminum.

      I will need to precisely calibrate the Panasonic for wattage anyway for the hyperconductivity project, so I will obtain a higher-powered watt meter to determine the wattage of every power setting for both frequencies. Until then, however, the only way I can fairly handicap a race is to apply a reduction figure to the ferromagnetic setting (2400W being 69% of 3500W). Given that we know the wattage at the maximum settings, we can infer that Setting 14 (actually 13.8) on the 20-step ferromagnetic range iis approximately the same heat output as the maximum setting (18) for copper/aluminum.

      The boil times for 4 liters of 50F water in 10” diameter pots shocked me. The 10” x 3mm tinned copper pot’s water reached 211F in 36:41. Not an especially fast time at 2400 watts. The 10” disk-based pressure cooker bottom? Well, it didn’t make it—it took an hour to get to 208F and then hung there. So that left me wondering if the Panasonic engineers simply decided that 2400 watts was enough for copper and aluminum. I have a theory why the copper pot boiled and the SS one didn’t under the same power, but getting into that’s for another time.

      C. Evenness Comparisons
       
      The wires which generate the induction field are wound in a circular pattern; when energized, they create a torus-shaped magnetic field. The wound coil is constructed with an empty hole at its center. As matters of physics, the magnetic field’s intensity drops off extremely fast as a function of the distance from the coil; a few millimeters above the Ceran, the field is so weak no meaningful heat will be generated. This means that most induction cooktops heat *only* the very bottom of pans, and in a distinct 2-dimensional “doughnut” shape.

      All of the above can result in a pan having a cooler central spot, a hotter ring directly over the coil, and a cooler periphery outside the coil. It is left to the cookware to try to even out these thermal discontinuities when cooking. Some materials and pan constructions are better at this than others: the successful constructions utilize more highly-conductive metals such as aluminum and copper, but unless the material is very thick, there can be a ring-shaped hotspot that can scorch food.
      Until the Panasonic arrived to market, hotspot comparisons between ferromagnetic and aluminum/copper pans depended largely on comparing induction’s flat, more discrete heat ring with gas’s more diffuse, 3-dimensional one. Dodgeball-style debate ensued, with few clear conclusions. But now, for the first time, equally-powered flat heat rings in two different frequencies allow us to directly compare evenness in ferromagnetic and aluminum/copper cookware.

      The simplest and easiest way to assess cookware evenness is the “scorchprint”, which does not require infrared or other advanced thermal imaging equipment. I’ve posted on how to conduct scorchprinting elsewhere, but basically a pan is evenly dusted with flour; heat is applied to the pan bottom. As the flour is toasted, any hotspots visually emerge, giving the viewer a useful general idea of evenness.
       
      I will later post the photos of scorchprints I made of 4 different pans run using the Panasonic KY-MK3500: (1) a Demeyere 28cm Proline 5* clad frypan; (2) a Fissler Original Profi disk-base 28cm frypan; a 6mm aluminum omelet pan; and (4) a 32cm x 3.2mm Dehillerin sauté. To make it a fair race, I heated all the pans at 2400W until they reached 450F, and then backed off the power setting to maintain 450F. I did this in order not to compromise my saute’s tin lining. As you will see, both the clad Demeyere and the disk-based Fissler did print the typical brown doughnut, with a cooler center and periphery. By far the most even was the thick, all-aluminum pan, which actually was even over its entirety—even including the walls. The copper sauté was also quite even, although its larger size and mass really dissipated heat; once 450F was dialed in, no more browning happened, even after 30 minutes.
       
      I conclude that the straightgauge pans were far more effective at shunting heat to their peripheries and walls (and also to some extent into the air) than the clad and disk-based pans. The latter accumulated their heat with most of it staying in the center of the pans. Eventually, even the “doughnut hole” blended into the scorch ring because the walls were not bleeding sufficient heat away from the floor. This was especially pronounced in the Fissler, the high wall and rim areas of which never exceeded 125F. The aluminum pan, in contrast varied less than 30F everywhere on the pan.

      D. Other Considerations

      The Panasonic’s fan noise at the cook’s position was noticeable at 63 dBA, higher than with the VMP’s 57 dBA. These levels are characterized as “normal conversation” and “quiet street”, respectively. Interestingly, I found two other, potentially more important differences. First, the Panasonic’s fan stays on, even after the unit is powered off, whereas the VMP’s fan shuts off immediately when the hob is turned off. Second, the Panasonic’s fan steps down from the louder speed to a much quieter (47 dBA, characterized as “quiet home”) level until the Ceran is cool to sustained touch, at which point it shuts off completely. I think the Panasonic’s ability to continue to vent and cool itself is a great feature, especially since a cook could leave a large, full, hot pan on the glass.

      The glowing circle is useless for gauging heat setting or intensity. And while it works to indicate a hot surface, it remains lit long after you can hold your hand in place dead center.
       
      VI. Summary and Lessons
       
      The Panasonic KY-MK3500 is a solid unit, well-conceived and rugged. It is extremely easy to use. It works well with both the common 24kHz frequency used with ferromagnetic cookware, and the 90kHz frequency chosen here for copper and aluminum. It effectively and automatically switches between the two.

      In my opinion, it points the way to expanding the worldwide induction appliance market to include dual frequencies. It also obviates the need to: (a) junk otherwise excellent cookware merely to have induction; and (b) retrofit designs to bond on ferromagnetic outer layers. In fact, in my opinion, my tests indicate that, in a dual-frequency world, adding ferromagnetic bottoms may well be a drag on pans’ performance.
       
      I also consider the Panasonic Met-All to be ground-breaking in what it can tell us about *pans*, because all metallic pans are now commensurable on induction. Clearly (to me anyway), watt-for-watt, the copper and aluminum pans performed better than did the clad and disk-based pans on this unit. Boil times were faster, there was less propensity to scorch, and the conductive-sidewall pans definitely added more heat to the pans’ contents. We may ultimately find that 90kHz fields save energy compared to 24kHz fields, much as copper and aluminum require less heat on gas and electric coil.
      In terms of heat transfer, the copper and aluminum pans came close to emulating the same pans on gas. And at 2400W/3500W it has the power of a full size appliance in a relatively small tabletop package.
       
      The Panasonic is far from perfect, however. It can’t really be considered portable. There are far too few temperature settings, and what few it has are not accurate or consistent in terms of judging pan contents and attaining the same temperature in different pans (and even the same pan unless clean). The luminous ring could easily have been made a useful indicator of intensity, but wasn’t. And it lacks things that should be obvious, including a through-the-glass “button” contact thermocouple, more power granularity, an analog-style control knob, and capacity to accept an external thermocouple probe for PID control.
       
      Most importantly for me, the Panasonic KY-MK3500 portends more good things to come. Retail price remains $1,700-$2,400, but I jumped on it at $611, and I’ve seen it elsewhere for as low as $1,200.
       
      The manual can be found here: ftp://ftp.panasonic.com/commercialfoo...
       
      Photo Credit:  Panasonic Corporation

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