The six-volume, 2,438-page magnum opus by former Microsoft Chief Technology Officer-turned-chef Nathan Myhrvold is unquestionably a publishing and culinary feat, reflecting the work of a 20-person team at the decked out high-tech Cooking Lab in Seattle, Washington.
The encyclopedic tomes go well beyond what most cookbooks cover; in fact, the only actual “cookbooks” are volumes 5 and 6, which contain recipes with step-by-step instructions. The others offer textbook charts and data on everything from bacteria culture times to health and diet, animal anatomy, the mechanics of sous vide cookery, and dehydrators.
“We’ve got a lot of recipes in the book, but we put a huge emphasis on first, an understanding, and second, on technique. In our view the recipes illustrate the understanding of the technique because we want people to be confident enough to explore things on their own,” said Myhrvold, during a Town Hall event held in Seattle this past January. “In a traditional French kitchen you learn primarily in the apprentice system. That was a good way to learn in the 19th century; these days we expect more.”