Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking
The Cooking Lab
In purely technical terms, Modernist Cuisine
is a comprehensive codification of culinary techniques. In cultural terms, the fact that it spans five volumes, covers topics in meticulous scientific depth, and essentially transforms the fundamental approach to modern cooking, makes it a culinary revolution, printed and bound. Not that Nathan Myrvhold, Chris Young
, and Maxime Bilet are looking to challenge the basics of cuisine; quite the opposite, they’re looking to explore them more deeply, as deeply as they’ve been explored. And with volumes including History and Fundamentals, Techniques and Equipment, Animals and Plants, Ingredients and Preparations, and Plated Dish Recipes—with a Kitchen Manual, because let's face it, you're out of you're league—they're exploring (and explaining) everything from the hows and whys of traditional methods to the science behind the vanguard techniques of the last 30 years. And all this from a project that began as an exposition of sous vide and food safety (which Myhrvold covers in unprecedented depth in Volume One). Bisected photographs give immediate visual logic to explanations of technique and product, making this an indispensable reference guide for any cook, chef, or visionary looking to keep pace with—or even dream beyond—the technical, conceptual, poetic precision of modern cuisine.
The Professional Chef: The Culinary Institute of America
J. Wiley & Sons
“There is always another level of perfection to achieve and another skill to master.” So begins the latest compendium of culinary instruction from the Culinary Institute of America. It’s no Modernist Cuisine (though it does offer a digital iPad app at $49.99), but weighing in at just over 1000 pages, the behemoth book is as comprehensive as it is efficient (just what a working chef needs). And the book doesn’t just elaborate upon the basic instruction of the CIA curriculum, it explores all facets of the culinary profession, from its cultural roots to the fine art of bookkeeping, from the increasingly important vocabulary of nutrition to the ever-relevant strictures of food safety. Explanations of equipment, product, sourcing, and, of course, technique, assume both the skill set and the ambitions of the professional (not to mention the kitchen space). So whether you’re a pastry chef looking for alternative sweeteners (check out piloncillo, page 229) or a chef looking to expand your vegetarian options (check out the “Method in Detail” section on grains and legumes, page 755), The Professional Chef will help you live up to its name.