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Your Kitchen Is a Chem Lab and This Is Your Textbook

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Maybe you cook, maybe not, but I bet you eat from time to time. If you’re reading articles on Scientific American, I also bet you are at least partially interested in science, and whether you eat gazpacho or goulash, KFC or cronuts, you have to concede this point: cooking is essentially applied chemistry. The beauty of it, though, is that the chemistry education part kind of sneaks up on you unless you make a point of seeking it out.

That’s something Microsoft-CTO-turned-chef Nathan Myhrvold has set out to change. Through a series of books and now a traveling photography exhibit, Myhrvold and his team at The Cooking Lab in Bellevue, Washington, are giving the art and science of cooking its long-awaited and much-deserved moment in the sun. Chefs, home cooks, and dedicated fast foodies, here’s your textbook on the chemistry of cooking. And it’s anything but dry.

Salad Cutaway by Chris Hoover

Salad Cutaway by Chris Hoover/Modernist Cuisine, LLC from The Photography of Modernist Cuisine

Soup Dumplings from Modernist Cuisine

Soup Dumplings from Modernist Cuisine © Ryan Matthew Smith/Modernist Cuisine, LLC

Traditional Pot Roasting by Ryan Matthew Smith

Traditional Pot Roasting by Ryan Matthew Smith/Modernist Cuisine, LLC from Modernist Cuisine

The Hidden Garden by Ryan Matthew Smith

The Hidden Garden by Ryan Matthew Smith/Modernist Cuisine, LLC from The Photography of Modernist Cuisine



The Modernist Cuisine books, including Modernist Cuisine, Modernist Cuisine at Home, The Photography of Modernist Cuisine

Modernist Cuisine Photography Exhibit

Prints of Modernist Cuisine Photography

*A note in the spirit of transparency: Myhrvold’s other current venture is a company called Intellectual Ventures which has received both good and bad press for its considerable investment in patents. Symbiartic is about covering what’s what in the world of science and art, so regardless of what your position is on IV, Myhrvold’s modernist cuisine venture is worth noting. But it does bring up interesting questions about whether you can separate the artist from the art. We welcome your thoughts in the comments section.

Every day in the month of September, we here at Symbiartic are serving up a different science artist for your viewing pleasure. Can’t get enough? Check out what was featured on this day last year, the hugely popular Rhinoceros 1515 by Kazuhiko Nakamura. It was also our Image of the Week:

Kalliopi Monoyios About the Author: Kalliopi Monoyios is an independent science illustrator. She has illustrated several popular science books including Neil Shubin's Your Inner Fish and The Universe Within, and Jerry Coyne's Why Evolution is True. Find her at Follow on Twitter @symbiartic.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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