Modernist Cuisine

In Food, General, video by John2 Comments

Today was my birthday.  I spent it quietly doing the mid-week wash, and answering phone calls from early in the morning to late evening. It was most enjoyable, and great to hear from and chat to so many dear friends. I also had several very welcome emails. One of the things many friends asked me was whether I had treated or indulged myself in any way, and the answer was no.  To be honest, I couldn’t think of anything I really wanted.  Although I did reply to one friend that if I go to Chadstone shopping centre tomorrow I’ll buy a tin of Ortiz tuna ($29.95) as a treat.

So it’s rather strange that tonight I got an email from Amazon advertising several cooking books. I’ve always been a huge fan of cooking books, to read and drool over rather than cook recipes. I always swear that I’ll never buy another cooking book, until I see the next one I can’t resist.

The first book I looked at tonight in the Amazon email was The Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook: 2,000 Recipes from 20 Years of America’s Most Trusted Cooking Magazine [Hardcover]. You can look inside it here.

It’s quite a big book at 928 pages, and weighs 4.6 lbs. I like the look of this book as Cook’s Illustrated recipes work well, and in this book it explains why the recipes work.  I like that type of explanation.  In a quick browse tonight I was interested to read that I cut onions the wrong way for caramelizing. I cut them around the equator, so to speak, but they should be cut from pole to pole.  However, it is an American book with many recipes for foods we just don’t eat here.

The second cookbook I looked at is the reason for this post.  I was gobsmacked when I read about it.  Whereas the Cook’s Illustrated book weighs 4.6 lbs, the ink alone in the second book weighs about 4 lbs.  The whole book (in 6 volumes) weighs 40 lbs.  For me, that’s a nightmare.  I dislike handling big heavy books.  Perhaps it’s an age thing, as I have a bit of arthritis in my hands.

The book is called Modernist Cuisine.   I’m not sure it’s a book I’d really like, or find useful.  It seems to have many sections devoted to cooking with professional equipment and techniques, such as sous vide equipment, not available to home cooks.  As mentioned above, I’m not a fan of big and heavy books,  and with this book, the price alone is enough to eliminate any interest – $625 full price or $451,59 on   However, it is a book with spectacular photography or art work, like the image above, and I thought it worth making a post about it, to bring the book to your attention.

The book has a website at where you can read more about the book, download a PDF file and a 4Mb brochure.   The website also has a blog and lots of links, including to video, etc.  The Reviews page is full of rave reviews.

The following is a Vimeo video promoting the book.

Warning:  In basic terms, sous vide cooking involves cooking slowly at temperatures below the boiling point of water and at the temperature at which you plan to eat the food.  One needs to be aware of the health risks when cooking at temperatures which might not kill all the bacteria.




  1. Happy Birthday John … that’s two years in a row!

    Wow what books they both are BUT have you seen the Errata listing for Modernist Cuisine of amendments on 521 pages … that’s one in every five pages has at least one acknowledged error, with 19 related to temperature which is a pretty important aspect of a cook book I would have thought, especially such as On page 1·174, in the note in the mar­gin, “192.2 °C” should read “192.2 °F.” or On page 1·273, in the first para­graph, “55 °F” should read “55 °C.”.

    Sorry John, I enjoy the scrumptious photos in Cook Books and your samples are spectacular but accuracy of content is something much more appetising to me. I hope you find one of these or another enticing Cook Book soon that you cannot resist at the checkout.

    Cheers, Ralph

    1. Author

      Thanks for the birthday wishes Ralph.

      No, I haven’t seen the Errata listing for Modernist Cuisine with amendments on 512 pages. That’s appalling. As you might remember, we used to produce Annual Reports and other printed documents, and if there was even one error in a document we’d feel disgraced.

      On Friday I went to Jeffreyes Books at Malvern to select my Christmas cards and get the 2012 Italian desk calendar. I asked the manager (proprietor?) if he stocked the above books. He looked up the computer and found two Australian distributors for Modernist Cuisine. One sold the set for about $900 and the other for about $800. No wonder we buy books online, when the Amazon price is $451,59.

      Mind you, this is not a cook book I’d want to buy at any price. Have you seen the list of “must have” and other kitchen equipment at ?

      There must be some $50,000 of kitchen gear most people don’t have. Just look at the hand held homogenizer for $956.

      Then there is the centrifuge. No kitchen should be without one – check it out here – $22,432.50 from Amazon.

      Anyway, Adam at Jeffreys also told me that he could order The Cooks Illustrated Cookbook for me at $48. So I ordered it. I’m familiar with Cooks Illustrated as a reliable source of recipes and information, so I’ll look forward to their new cookbook.

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